JA Finland and Sitra issue an entrepreneurship challenge to college students

17.2.2015 2015

JA Finland has launched a two-year development project with Sitra. The project aims to enhance college students’ entrepreneurship skills and increase recent graduates’ employability. Seven piloting universities and universities of applied sciences have decided to enroll in the project to develop JA Finland’s Start Up program. The program intends to reduce the number of 45,000 Finnish unemployed college graduates by giving the tools of employment into the students’ own hands.

Students in the JA Start Up program learn entrepreneurship through practical exercises. They will found a company for the duration of one academic year, and will receive a more realistic idea of entrepreneurship than through traditional lecture-based education. Colleges have provided entrepreneurship education for a long time, but still people with an academic degree have founded only a fraction of the companies in Finland.

[su_quote]In the JA Start Up companies students get to put the skills they’ve acquired into practice instead of nodding off at lectures. At the same time they gain study credits, says the development project’s leader Petri Katajarinne.[/su_quote]

JA Start Up program has a low learning curve, which makes it possible for all interested students to participate. Whether the program inspires them to turn their company to the next big Finnish success or they give up entrepreneurship after the trial year, the concrete working life skills acquired during the program will enhance their employability.

[su_quote]These kinds of concrete actions can help increase the employment rate and enthusiasm for entrepreneurship among university graduates. As a result, we will gain more companies and jobs for Finland, believes JA Finland’s CEO Virpi Utriainen.[/su_quote]

Laurea, Haaga-Helia, and Savonia universities of applied sciences, Turku University of Applied Sciences, HUMAK University of Applied Sciences’ Turku department, University of Turku, and the Turku School of Economics have joined JA Finland in developing the program. JA Start Up program has been used successfully at the University of Turku for eight years. The project’s goal is to use the model developed in Turku to create a nationally functioning framework.

[su_quote]In a rapidly changing economy, as in entrepreneurship, young people need more practical working life skills. Young adults with advanced degrees are an extremely important group in our society. We can’t afford to let their potential sit aside, away from the places of work. Sitra decided to fund the development of the Start Up program, as practicality and a real need come together in a great way in this project, says Sitra’s leading expert Timo Lindholm.[/su_quote]

JA Finland’s CEO Virpi Utriainen (left) with Sitra’s leading expert Timo Lindholm on her right side and a group of representatives from the universities joining the development of JA Start Up program. Petri Katajarinne stands farthest back in the picture.


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