Entrepreneurship Education: Developing a sense of initiative and entrepreneurial mindsets


The Entrepreneurship and Career Education Programme Edu ja Tegu [Success and Action] was launched by the Ministry of Education and Research in 2016. It aims to give all students an opportunity to experience entrepreneurship and build entrepreneurial competences applicable throughout life in diverse cultural, economic, social and other contexts. This includes having students take a more active role in designing their own career path.


The entrepreneurship programme builds on strong foundations. Several Estonian teachers began in 1992 to learn about and eventually help found what would become the Junior Achievement Estonia Foundation that engages thousands of students a year in entrepreneurship education. The programme also builds on the inclusion of entrepreneurship as a core theme in the national curriculum in 1996 and the addition of entrepreneurial competence as a key curricular competence as of 2011. The programme also draws strength from the European Parliament’s and Council’s 2006 recommendation to support the development of a sense of initiative and entrepreneurship amongst other key lifelong learning competences.

Programme foci

The Success and Action Programme seeks to broaden the scope of meaning that was commonly applied to the term entrepreneurship. The term had widely been viewed primarily through an economic or business lens. The current aim is to take a much broader view that focuses on helping young people to develop a sense of initiative and an entrepreneurial mindset that can be applied in all aspects of their life. The hope is that entrepreneurial competence (i.e. knowledge, skills, attitudes and values) built through education can be applied in making decisions when participating in the labour market, or in cultural, economic, social or other contexts throughout one’s life.21 

The Success and Action programme has five key foci:

  • the development of the entrepreneurial competence model and pedagogical materials
  • the design and implementation of entrepreneurship courses for students
  • support for the launch of business start-ups
  • capturing success stories and rewarding best practices
  • teacher, business mentor and entrepreneur training
  • programme monitoring and research.


In this model (see Figure 4), entrepreneurial competence consists of a holistic set of knowledge, skills and attitudes needed to create new value when implementing ideas, and in order to develop the learner’s own capacity to be entrepreneurial and to cope at work and in daily life in general.

The model includes four categories: self-management; resolving social situations; value-creation thinking and the finding of solutions; and implementation of (business) ideas. These categories are further broken down into a total of 14 more specific competences.

The model is important for several reasons. It is an agreement between stakeholders from diverse sectors of education and business including from the fields of art, music and the world of work. This means the model takes a broad view of entrepreneurship.

In addition, the model is a key reference point for the development of initiatives that support its implementation. Finally, in working with students it can be used to make visible what students know or do not yet know, thereby making it simpler to set and deliver on more realistic and engaging learning targets.

Figure 4. Entrepreneurial competence model

As of 2021, entrepreneurship education is implemented in 381 general education schools, which is 71% of all general education schools in Estonia.

The self-evaluation instruments help students to reflect on their entrepreneurial competence and to assess their own current progress in achieving it. They help students to see their strengths and development needs and can serve as a basis for setting their own learning goals. The guidelines suggest ways teachers can further support students using these instruments and how the results can be used to better plan teaching and learning.

Entrepreneurs are involved in developing curricula. The programme has supported 46 projects where schools and enterprises work together to deliver entrepreneurship education, in particular through practical application activities.

The short in-service courses (maximum of 11 days) are for teachers who wish to teach entrepreneurship. The masterclasses, which always take place in enterprises over a six-month period (6 ECTS3 credits), cover, among other points, entrepreneurial competences, teamwork, project-based learning, as well as self-evaluation and -reflection.

This is now one of the compulsory modules in initial vocational teacher education.

This is an education quality label awarded to kindergartens and schools that support students in building autonomy and entrepreneurial attitudes so as to improve their ability to make decisions and to take action. Entrepreneurial schools are expected to engage students fully in all stages and processes of entrepreneurial learning so motivation can arise from their own engagement and initiative-taking. Currently, 130 schools have obtained the label. This constitutes approximately 25% of all general education schools.

An electronic and hard copy book summarises how Estonian students have created their own enterprises in cooperation with existing businesses.

The next chapter focuses on how Estonia is working to help teachers and students build digital competence. Digital competence is now fundamental to the teaching and learning processes.

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