From the entreTime European Training Programme
in Entrepreneurship for Educators
(Service Contract EASME/COSME/2018/020)
Entrepreneurial training is becoming increasingly important in academia and business. Adding EU governments that push innovation regions from the West to the East, the triple helix is complete. In terms of research, the field of entrepreneurship and entrepreneurship trainer is a de facto interdisciplinary area that has drawn significant attention over the years (both academic and otherwise) with a lot of major changes taking place in the last decade. In this context, a lot of different frameworks that help quantify and support entrepreneurship have risen over the years, some of which are very useful in pinpointing entrepreneurial competencies and are consequently useful for the analysis presented in this document.
Cultivating an entrepreneurial mind-set is both highly personal and difficult. In this process the first step is to have trained and personally motivated trainers that have the tools and expertise required in order to pass the new competences to their trainees.
entreTime1 addresses this need by creating and testing a training framework for trainers.
At this initial phase, Ent retime performed a comparative analysis of existing train the trainer’s programmes. To achieve this, a four-step process was adopted:
literature review into the field,
collection and classification of relevant programmes on entrepreneurship education,
focusing on selected train-the-trainer programmes and conducting interviews with people involved, and
analysis and synthesis of the collected information in order to learn from the experience that already exists in the field and derive recommendations for the design of the Ent retime programme.
The EntreComp2 framework is used as the main underlying foundation for the collection of information and analysis of work presented in this document. The Intercom framework aims to become a reference for any initiative aiming to improve the entrepreneurial capacity trainees. The framework is composed of three interrelated competence areas: Ideas and opportunities, Resources, and Into action (each of them contained an additional of five sub-competences.
Through this research, a set of fifty-four entrepreneurship training programmes in Europe and North America are identified, thirty-one of which are specifically addressed to trainers. These programmes present various approaches to teaching and use different tools to do so. Tapping into the aforementioned research and the consortium’s experience and network, nine of these programmes were analysed in detail in order to identify good practices and recommendations.
This analysis is further facilitated by the use of the EntreComp framework and European Training Foundation (ETF) good practices for interviews that enabled further data collection (for the nine selected programmes). The competencies highlighted by EntreComp are matched to the skills cultivated by the researched programmes, in order to identify how and to what extent entrepreneurial competencies are cultivated. While most of the EntreComp competencies are addressed to some extent in all programmes, it becomes evident that some focus more on specific areas than others. This verifies the intuitive assessment that, depending on the context, audience, geography, and trainer background of each programme, the audience is guided towards different directions.
3. Results of the Comparative Analysis
3.1 From an EntreComp framework perspective
The three competence areas of the conceptual model of EntreComp are highly interconnected and in some cases seen as specific “steps” that need to be followed, having in mind that entrepreneurship as a competence stands above all three of them. The overall perception is for one to be able to transform his/her ideas and opportunities, into action through the mobilization of resources. The figures below showcase the outcomes of the analysis.
3.2 From an ETF framework perspective
Training Design and Delivery
All of the programmes focused more on entrepreneurial training and soft-skills development and in specific: personal development, entrepreneurial thinking/change-shift of mind-set towards entrepreneurship, employability and venture creation. The programmes varied on the duration from five days to a whole semester period as well as on the intensity, some implementing everyday multiple hours training and someone or few hours extended training.
Learning Environment and Infrastructure
Almost all of the programmes did not include an e-learning version but incorporated both digital and physical resources for the training. The ability to gather all participants in a safe, non-judgemental, inspiring environment was highlighted in every case. The programmes were in all cases run by both academics and professionals, in most cases start uppers, external lecturers, and partners, and in fewer cases extra help was provided for the training from consultants and business incubators.
Monitoring, Evaluation and Improvements
Success factors indicated in every case were different. Most common factors of success were: approaches on change/shift of mind-set towards entrepreneurship, active involvement with workshops and challenges, coaching and mentoring throughout the programme and involvement of actual entrepreneurs in running the programme and implement the training/lecture/challenge.
Programme Dissemination and Promotion
Most programmes were disseminated and known through the network created, or the existent one, of the collaborating Universities – and the high-grade members of them – organisations and businesses of the programme. Mainly the “word-of-mouth” or “viva voce” technique was used to make the programme known. Emails, newsletters, and social media post were common means of disseminating the existence of the programme and/or the applying period as well as its results. Most successful dissemination channels in most programmes are considered: the newsletter, the email approach, and the “word-of-mouth” technique.
3.3 Discussion from a trainers’ needs perspective
Firstly, the analysis focused on TTT programmes that are centred around entrepreneurship. In these formats, training modules are more reliant on new venture creation theory. Coming out of such a programme, we expect attendees to be able to help new entrepreneurs start their own business. On the other hand, we have the courses that focus more on developing a personal growth mind-set and empowering trainers to include outside-of-the-box thinking into their course structure but do not necessarily include new venture creation theory. In both cases workshops and experiential real learning plays an important role but the content and the context in which these take place differ.
Trainers also need to know more about issues such as the lean start-up, the formation of spinoffs, financing opportunities, how venture capital works etc. Workshops tend to focus more on team building exercises to promote brainstorming and business model innovation. These are essential since these trainers will then go on to train entrepreneurs. Especially in the context of universities, in many cases these trainers will have to guide and direct researchers and students in their own entrepreneurial ventures. Essentially, trainers in this category require a toolkit that will allow them to enhance their teaching of the theoretical part of entrepreneurship and help and inspire students to consider entrepreneurship as a viable employment alternative.
Secondly, the analysis looked into programmes aimed at cultivating entrepreneurial thinking rather than entrepreneurship per se, need to be able to change the mind-set of trainers and cultivate a more agile approach to teaching. These programmes need more focus on how to use entrepreneurial competences in various courses and, as a consequence, are heavily reliant on pedagogy and theory. In this case, educators need a set of tools and the training that will render them able to adapt said tools in the context of different courses. A challenging part is to provide educators with knowledge that can help them engage students who are otherwise indifferent to entrepreneurship.
It is important to note that in both cases a lot of similar principles and tools are used which are, however, adapted to the specific audiences’ needs. Minor differences in needs can also be found between academic and business instructors (e.g. people who teach entrepreneurship in a university versus those who are responsible for a business incubator). It seems that business-oriented trainers require less of a theoretical background and more experiential tools than academics. This is, however, something that should be further investigated as the project progress and receives more input from external stakeholders3.
The results of this study show that Europe’s train-the-trainer programmes have the roots in similar methodologies but vary depending on their context.
Using Intercom as a guide we can see how different programmes cover all the relevant competences.
However, there is no clear guide on how to correctly build such a programme (duration, digital/in-person interaction, learning through entrepreneurship) and how to target specific competences.
Most train-the-trainer programmes have in mind their target audience, but do not build their curriculum to specifically fortify unique competences. Furthermore, this research has shown the importance of having a variety of different tools that can be mixed to address different audiences. The importance of making potential trainers think out-of-the-box, come out of their comfort zone, and cultivate entrepreneurial competences through experiential training cannot be understated. In this context, the entreTime consortium aims to develop an entrepreneurial train-the-trainer programme that caters for trainer without prior entrepreneurship experience – by involving more experienced trainers as coaches – at a higher education level by leveraging the best practices of EntreComp.
Are you interested in being involved in this research by attending our pilot of blended learning “stop and go” training programme or joining our entreTime community of ENT-educators or validating our open faculty platform with a dedicated multilingual toolkit (tools, library, materials and course building tools for tailored entrepreneurship student courses) and online co-creation services for networking?
Please follow us on LinkedIn “entreTime Community” and on Twitter: #entreTime
1 For major information on entreTime and its consortium, please visit https://entretime.sce.de/
2European Entrepreneurship Competence Framework published by the European Commission in 2016, as a reference framework to explain what is meant by an entrepreneurial mind-set. Major info at https://ec.europa.eu/social/main.jsp?catId=1317&langId=en
Figure 1: Ethical and sustainable thinking in entrepreneurship education, coping with uncertainty and risk and motivation and perseverance are competences that future training has to address more intensively.
Legal disclaimer: The views expressed in this publication are the sole responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Commission
Published by the Triple Helix Association – ISSN 2281-4515
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