It is difficult for young people without formal education that is not in employment and education to find a job. However, even without formal training or labor market experience, young people can gather competences. Globalization, demographic change, technological advances and the financial crisis have crated major challenges for today’s societies. Individuals have to confront rapidly changing data and to learn how to keep up with these changes.
So-VET (Social Entrepreneurship as an Alternative for Young Unemployed) is an Erasmus+ Project which aims to address NEETs and youth unemployment through the development of social entrepreneurship, making it an alternative for unemployed youth.
“Guideline for the Integration of the Curriculum in Existing National VET Programmes” is developed within the scope of So-VET Project to examine all factors that are crucial for the successful implementation of the learning tools which are created in the framework of the project. Moreover, this guide describes the training program, its contents, educational materials and tools, as well as the training methodology.
The training program of the So-VET project is prepared in collaboration with all project partners and aims to contribute to the development of the social entrepreneurial skills of the youth in vocational education and training. It aims to introduce the theory and practice of social entrepreneurship to the learners. General objectives are to:
- Foster their entrepreneurial motivation, skills and mindset.
- Raise the learners’ awareness of the various aspects of starting up and running a successful business and social enterprise- legal, financial, managerial, leadership, marketing, etc.
- Provide a comprehensive online learning environment combining theory, practice, online coaching from experienced trainers and mentors, active networking with peers and opportunity to attract potential investors;
- The inspiring experiential learning journey will be based around tasks, missions and challenges, through which – enabled by the game elements of the platform– the users will acquire the basic knowledge, skills and mindset, required to become social entrepreneurs.
The content of the training consists of 9 modules and the section of “Success Stories of Social Enterprises.” The entire training content is uploaded to the project website as an open online course freely available for anyone. Please click here to see the course.
- Module 1 – Introduction to Social Entrepreneurship
- Module 2 – How to Start a Social Enterprise
- Module 3 – Legal Framework
- Module 4 – Creating a Business Model for Social Enterprises
- Module 5 – Marketing
- Module 6 – Fundraising and Attracting Investors
- Module 7 – Business Management
- Module 8 – Business Finance and Economics
- Module 9 – The Business Plan
The course’s center of gravity is a strong base of theory exploring all the aspects of actual economy and business sector. Social entrepreneurship is a process and can’t be improvised. If potential entrepreneurs don’t want to be short term active players and unsustainable workers, they need to start from the general overview of macro and micro-economy.
The course is geared towards adult learning and uses participatory approaches as much as possible. A variety of methodologies are used, including lectures, presentations, discussions, debates, group work, video discussions, questions and answers, demonstrations, practical sessions (hands-on practice), small and large group exercises, role plays and simulations.
Students are expected to learn the concept of social entrepreneurship, appreciate the role of measurement to quantify social impact and how social entrepreneurs mobilize scarce resources to affect social change at the end of this course.
Feedbacks from Pilot Implementations
Pilot online courses were held in each country to evaluate the content’s effectiveness and usefulness in achieving the course’s training objectives. Piloting the content helped to identify which sections of the content worked and which sections need strengthening. From this process, some kind of feedback like the opinions on the content, its strength and weaknesses and whether it meets the needs of target group have been collected.
In general, feedbacks from the testers are very positive for all modules. Feedbacks show that the prepared content is less clearly written than expected but it is well-structured. Considering that the modules will be available in national languages and English, it is expected that the language clarity will inherently improve. Participant’s opinion on “practically oriented and provides relevant examples and practical tasks” question is one of the least successful criteria for the project. However, considering the broad and conceptual nature of the course itself, this is neither surprising nor deemed to be a negative feature. As recommendations for the successful implementation of content in real training environments, some participants indicated that training should be followed and mentored by experts and trainers so that beneficiaries can receive feedbacks. It is also suggested that there should be more examples and practical tips in the content. Although there are some points to be revised, results have shown that the “content for young social entrepreneurs” is helpful for the participants.
Analysis of the Current Situation in Partner Countries
The current situation of the existing VET programmes about social entrepreneurship in Greece, Italy, Macedonia, Sweden, United Kingdom and Turkey is analyzed in this part of the guide. Primarily, this analysis has taken the form of a desk research and a primary research through questionnaires and interviews with key stakeholders, so as to assess the current situation that exists in the participating countries, and whether a national curriculum for social entrepreneurship for VET is in existence in the participating countries. According to the researches, the concept of social entrepreneurship in vocational education and training has not been developed. In other words, there are no such courses or specific curriculum in participating countries except from the United Kingdom. The only course found in the research is in the U.K. with a similar context to the one developed for So-VET project. On the other hand, social entrepreneurship courses do exist in education systems in partner countries either as an elective course or a certificate program. In Macedonia and Greece, there are entrepreneurship courses and teachers have the freedom to involve related concepts such as social entrepreneurship in VET schools. Courses in partner countries last between 3 months to 2 years according to the content. Although most courses offer similar training content to So-VET, some courses focus more on the soft skills related with entrepreneurship and some courses offer case studies in their training programs. In general, researchers, teachers or people with the experiences in the related fields are the trainers in these courses. The situation in these countries has shown that the project So-VET is very innovative and necessary for the vocational education and training system in partner countries, and the project will fill the void in its area.
Following the analysis, recommendations were made for integration of So-VET Programme into existing VET Programmes.
The training content of So-VET Project is prepared to be used in vocational education and training. As the country reports on current situation of social entrepreneurship in existing VET curriculum indicate, there are no courses in VET regarding social entrepreneurship in the partner countries except for the UK. This situation raises the importance of this work which is planned to prepare a guideline in order to find the most convenient ways of injecting the prepared training content into national VET programmes in partner countries. Series of strategic seminars were held by the partners of So-VET in order to identify the steps needed to be followed, from the inception of a curriculum to its final integration into national VET curriculum as well as the most effective methods and procedures for the integration of the curriculum in the existing national VET programmes. In each country, the steps differ from each other since the structure of education systems and VET system is different in partner countries.
Key experts and directors from VET centers, academics from universities and experts from NGOs were invited to these seminars. Most of the participants find the content well-prepared and suitable for various ages and levels of education. On the other hand, some of them have doubts if some definitions and explanations are suitable for youth. There is no common answer on how to integrate the content of So-VET into existing VET curriculum. Moreover, seminars have shown that it is a very difficult process to change national VET curriculum in most of the partner countries due bureaucratic difficulties.
In some partner countries, it was suggested to integrate the content via VET teachers of entrepreneurship or economy courses since they have the freedom and flexibility to modify their lessons by adding extra topics such as social entrepreneurship. This is the easiest and fastest way of integrating the content into national VET curricula in partner countries. It is also suggested that partner institutions can become certified training centers in order to offer social entrepreneurship courses. Other suggestions provided by partners require long time and the following of complicated procedures but the result of these suggestions is very useful since they can allow the content to be used nationwide.
Country-specific information and recommendations about the existing VET Programmes are provided within the guide. Please click here to display the guide.