Commissioner Vassiliou: We need more entrepreneurs

European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth Androulla Vassiliou spoke at the final awards ceremony of the European GEP Challenge in Paris.

On March 22nd, in Paris, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth Androulla Vassilou spoke about the power of entrepreneurship education to help combat the pressing problem of youth unemployment.

"New companies are the lifeblood of rising productivity and consequently of higher living standards," explained Commissioner Vassiliou. "When it comes to promoting prosperity through job and wealth creation, the role of new entrepreneurs can hardly be overstated."

Speaking at the final awards ceremony of the European Global Enterprise Project Challenge, she proposed to support more partnerships between education and business in order to better equip students with the skills they need to enter the workforce.

"I am promosing to support financially the partnerships between businesses and education systems," stated the Commissioner. "And I am confident that the companies represented here today will be interested in these initiatives."

The GEP Challenge brought together the best 60 students from the 11 European countries: Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Spain and Sweden. The Challenge tested students’ ability to compete in the global economy by responding to a real-world business challenge. Students were supported by business coaches from Europe’s top industrial companies.

Student teams were tasked with brainstorming and working together to create a resource efficient product or service which would improve the quality of life in big cities in Europe and in the developing world.

And the winner is…
Students coming from France, Ireland, the Netherlands, Romania, Slovakia and Spain, calling themselves Mobile Step, captured the top prize. The team came up with a concept for powering public transport, such as subways and train stations, in big cities. Using kinetic energy generated by passengers walking across specially designed platforms, Magic Step designed a concept that will help promote the use of public transport and will help big cities manage energy, transportation and pollution problems.

“We’ve realised how important teamwork and cooperation is, and how to deal with actual global programmes. We loved the programme, it was a great experience!” exclaimed Magic Step.

Team GlobalAwareness placed second with their concept to improve recycling systems. Students from France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain developed the idea of using kinetic energy from vehicle and foot traffic to power a smart recycling system that will produce by-products from the recycled waste.

A concept to use traffic to power and turn on street lights was developed by the third place team: Highway to Heaven. This innovative solution was developed by students from France, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, Sweden and Spain.

Public-private partnerships in education
GEP was launched by the European Roundtable of Industrialists, Junior Achievement-Young Enterprise Europe, and European Schoolnet in partnership with 18 leading European industrial companies to prepare students to compete in today’s global economy. It is a one-of-a-kind programme that teaches business and entrepreneurship in the context of international business to students between the ages of 15 and 18 in 11 European countries. It uses EU recognised ‘Best Practice in Entrepreneurship Education’ methodologies combined with real-world business perspectives.

“I would recommend this project to all the teachers and student,” said Sylvie Brault-Morean, a secondary school teacher from France. “It is a real opportunity for students to ‘learn by doing’ to train themselves on topical issues in English, to learn to be more autonomous, share their points of view, be creative and more self-assured.”

Preparing to compete in the global economy
The GEP programme is critical to student development by fostering those personal attributes and cross-cutting skills that form the base of the core employability skills, and develops an entrepreneurial mindset. GEP is distinguished from other programmes by offering students a global business perspective, which is necessary in today’s economy.

"We need events like today's and initiatives such as the Global Entreprise Project," said Commissioner Vassiliou.

These programmes help secure future European economic growth and development as recipients of entrepreneurship education are 4 to 5 times more likely to start their own businesses; and they are on average more employable, earn higher incomes, and are more satisfied in their careers.

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