Entrepreneurship education improves young people’s school performance in Finland

6.3.2018 2018News

Young people who participated in the JA Company Programme (in Finnish: NY Vuosi yrittäjänä) for one year felt that their working life skills and school motivation improved.

Improved transversal skills and working life skills increased their motivation, which in turn was reflected in their school performance. These results are based on a major international research project (ICEE 2018).

– Long-term entrepreneurship education improves the skills young people will need in their working life and supports other types of learning. This study clearly shows that skills are gained by doing new things, says JA Finland’s CEO, Virpi Utriainen.

The ICEE research project took two years and included 12,000 respondents from five countries (Belgium, Italy, Latvia, Finland and Estonia). JA Europe’s study was carried out together with the participant countries’ ministries of education and it received funding from the European Commission’s Erasmus+ programme.

2 400 Finns took part in the study. In Finland, the differences in the entrepreneurship education participant group’s and the control group’s transversal skills, working life skills and school performance were much clearer than in other European countries. 

Summary of key findings and full report

Transversal skills are born from practical experience

The study’s results also show that the participants of the JA Company Programme generally have a better grasp of what the benefits of learning various subjects and topics are than those young people who did not participate. Applying the things they learn at school to everyday situations helps them understand the meaning of the things they learn, which is reflected as better school performance.

– The JA Company Programme gives students a chance to practice the skills they learn during lessons. This means they get a good grasp of how the things they learn can be applied to real life, Virpi Utriainen explains.

Even though the development of key competences (e.g. oral communication, mathematical skills, decision-making skills) is not the main goal of the JA Company Programme, in Finland the effects were clear. For instance, decision-making skills were improved considerably through transversal learning.

Teachers are excited about entrepreneurship education

Entrepreneurship education is based on modern and practical teaching methods. It can easily be integrated into several subjects.

These two points were highlighted in the answers of the Finnish teachers who participated in the study.

A majority of the teachers stressed that it is important to focus on practical methods, such as the JA Company Programme.  Some teachers focused on the pedagogical advantages: they gained a better understanding of their students, which changes the relationship between the teachers and the students.

The ICEE study looked at the JA Company Programme’s effects on 15 to 20-year-old people studying in upper secondary schools and vocational schools. The Finnish schools that participated in the study were the Kainuu Vocational College, the Etu-Töölö Upper Secondary School, Helsinki Business College, Helsinki Upper Secondary School of Languages and Raseko Raisio Regional Education and Training Consortium.

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