EYES (Enlarging Youth Entrepreneurial Spirits) is an international project co-financed by the European Commission under the Erasmus+ Programme; the project is implemented and developed by six organisations from six countries (Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Spain, and Sweden) sharing the ultimate aim to support professionals in vocational training and integration in changing their teaching practices, to promote the development of a collective entrepreneurial culture and democratic values among young people.
At the end of March, Partners spent three very intense days together, in which they had the opportunity to exchange views, feedback and recommendations on the training modules developed during the first half of project implementation. The event was originally planned in Sweden, but it has been rescheduled online during the obvious and unfortunately well-known COVID-19 restrictions.
Nevertheless, partners have been able to organise and implement from remote a very fruitful occasion for debate. The focus of the discussion was on two main topics: the training models as designed by partners (so as to engage learners in operative role-playing scenarios that empathise with the very essentials of business, entrepreneurship and management); guidelines and recommendations sustaining educators in the delivery of the training.
The design of the learning outcomes and the overall pedagogical framework to operationalise the training and enhance its educational impact relied on the EntreComp Framework – the official model promoted by the European Commission as a reference paradigm for teaching, coaching and educating on entrepreneurial competences. To date, the EntreComp Framework is still the most valuable reference for entrepreneurial education, and it is conceived to be feasible and “exploitable” for all potential targets (Adult Learners as well as High School students). Partners went through the Framework and made use of the 59 learning outcomes that are described on the intermediate / lower level of the model itself – in compliance with Level 3 of the EQF, the most appropriate to address EYES’ target group.
All contents are translated into the languages represented in the Consortium and are available for free at: https://eyesmodules.eu/
During the first day (Monday, 29th of March), after a brief welcome and introduction by Elderberry, partners deep dived into the first three modules:
- Pop Up exhibitions & Spaces (by Elderberry) – the Swedish partner shared with colleagues the main highlight of its training module in term of background references (i.e., what is a Pop-Up space?) and why it is potentially relevant for aspiring young entrepreneurs. An in-depth description of tasks and processes expected by learners followed immediately after. Finally, all partners discussed together about the envisioned learning outcomes and “hints and tips” for educators.
- Sustainable Tourism Initiatives (by ESSEI) – the Belgian partner arranged its presentation in three clusters of topics strategically relevant for (sustainable) tourism education: a) defining the basics of a Business Idea: mission, vision, actual service related to Sustainable Tourism (ST); b) getting familiar with “pills” of accounting and communication in their very essentials, i.e. budgeting, basics of accounting (R-C=π), stakeholder mapping; c) drafting of a simplified business plan (limited to objective(s), market of reference, service provided) and exercising the elevator pitch.
- eCommerce (by RCCI) – the Bulgarian partner concluded the first day with a very comprehensive presentation on how to thrive in digital markets. Partners have been guided through five key topics conceived as formal sub-units of the module: “Understanding eCommerce”, “Finding a niche”, “Choosing the right outline solution”, “Legal Aspects”, “Attracting Customers”. Each unit has its own learning framework elaborated in further theoretical and operative knowledge.
The second day (Tuesday, 30th of March) has been dedicated to the presentation of three other modules:
- The Grocery Basket (by CIJ) – the French partner presented to the consortium the entrepreneurial fundamentals of this module. The Grocery Basket concept is aimed to promote a more sustainable agriculture by sustaining and supporting short circuits between producers and consumers. In the context of this training, learners are invited to get familiar with the essentials of circular and green economy, two new paradigms that worldwide economists identified as key drivers for innovation, competitiveness, and long-term financial sustainability.
- The Social Media Marketer (by INFODEF) – the Spanish partner made colleagues part of a very interesting presentation about Social Media Marketing in general and the profession of the Social Media Marketer. The participants showed great interest in the topic and on how the contents have been arranged and displayed. The modules deep dive into the multiple dimensions of Social Media Marketing (i.e., aesthetic product and establishment photographs, regular publications on social media and marketing campaigns aimed at targeted audiences) and provides learners and educators with a great number of external resources to master the subject even further.
- Starting a Café (by VHS CHAM) – the German partner discussed with colleagues the content pertaining starting and managing a small Café. Partners remained impressed by the level of detail that the VHS staff has been able to provide during development. Leaners and educators have at their disposal a considerable amount of supporting material to organise, open and run a Café from the very basics: from designing a menu, to calculating their break even point; from dividing tasks among staff, to budgeting, etc.
In the very last day (Wednesday, 31st of March), partners wrapped up the training session by going through:
- The last training module Clean un the beach & preserve the Costal Environment (by ELDERBERRY). The project “clean up the beach and preserve the coastal environment” is a summer activity that initiates its beneficiaries into the democratic functioning of a business. It is a project in which young people are mobilized to clean and preserve their environment and inform the population using the beaches of their city. This module is also a sort of framework for the “sustainable” spirit that characterises each unit produced by partners. Regardless of the underlining content, all training materials make of the topic of sustainability their lowest common denominator as a sort of red line that connects partners’ efforts and the same as EYES’ social commitment.
- The Implementation and Validation plan produced by IO leader ELDERBERRY. EYES’ implementation plan is a simple, straightforward, and easily accessible set of recommendations dedicated to support collaborative dynamics between young (aspiring) entrepreneurs and representatives from the business community / local business support systems, local VET networks in general.
The implementation phase will represent in fact the bulk of the very next cycle of EYES’ development. This is a pilot phase that will allow partners to test and validate the EYES training paths (online and face-to-face) according to the specific training needs and skills gaps identified during the preparation and benchmarking phase. Each partner will design a local project on its own territory in order to implement specific actions and schemes to combat social and urban exclusion in sensitive neighbourhoods. Partners agreed on general timeline, ways and means on delivery, plus the content that each organisation will test beside the one for which it has been responsible.
- The feedback system, meaning: the way in which partners will assess the reliability of EYES’ training and the overall level of satisfaction with its deliverables. RCCI, formal lead organisation of this activity, shared with partners two modules of evaluation forms, in compliance with the two-part assessment:
- Part 1 is the questionnaire in order to “interview” the trainees and get to know more about their experience and satisfaction level. It is a very short and simple survey and will cause no trouble for participants to fill it in as it takes no more than 5 minutes. This is just a template.
- Part 2 is the template for a national report that each partner should fill in after the piloting phase in order to analyse the effectiveness of the training – this should be done by an analysis of the received answers from the survey (Part 1) and according to the organisations’ own view and impressions of the training.
Before leaving the session, partners discussed very briefly about the second Training Event scheduled for September 2021 in Germany and hosted by VHS CHAM. Each organisation will participate along with three young aspiring entrepreneurs that took part in the summer training organised by the same sending partner. Such experience will represent for them a unique opportunity to get involved not only with the consortium but also, and most importantly, with their international peers and to engage cross-national and cross-cultural realities.
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