Entrepreneurship is a vital component of economic growth and development. The creation of new business entities not only generates added value, fiscal revenues, employment and innovation, but is an essential ingredient for the development of a vibrant small- and medium-sized business sector—the core of most competitive economies.
Hild Marit Olsen, an Executive of Education from the region of Nordland, talked to the Summer Academy participants about how they integrate entrepreneurship in regional development strategies. Entrepreneurship in a regional perspective has the potential to contribute to specific sustainable development objectives, such as the employment of women, young people or disadvantaged groups, Ms Olsen underlined. Taken into account the increased need of integrating refugees and asylum seekers, a possibility to start up their own businesses might be an important key to success. Social entrepreneurship is a tool for creating arenas for social interactions such as music festivals etc.
Growth-oriented entrepreneurs can also contribute to structural transformation and building new industries, including the development of eco-friendly economic activities, or the green change. We need to focus on how we as a region can increase entrepreneurship, not only about the single entrepreneur.
We have concentrated our work on some policy areas that have a direct impact on entrepreneurial activity. These are:
- formulating regional entrepreneurship strategy;
- enhancing entrepreneurship education and skills;
- facilitating technology exchange and innovation;
- improving access to finance;
- promoting awareness and networking
As an executive for education, Ms Olsen highlighted the role of education and skills for advancing entrepreneurship in regional development, creating a reciprocity. Regional development can benefit from our work on using education for advancing entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial skills in more than one way, and education can benefit and learn from entrepreneurship:
“Our mission is to prepare the students for life and work, and in my view integrating entrepreneurship into education and training we strengthen our mission with regard to aligning education with the needs of the outside world”.
Integrating entrepreneurship into our curriculum addresses the relevance of education and the development of the skills set of future workers and professionals. Future professionals need a broad set of skills, and the development of entrepreneurial skills are well aligned with recent reports on the future of education.
Entrepreneurship in education also has a pedagogical mission. The quality of teaching and learning can benefit from integrating the world of industry, public service and health into the classroom, thereby creating relevant and motivating learning processes for our students.
Based on our experience we want to continue to strengthen the cooperation between elementary schools and the rest of the educational system and private businesses. In collaboration we may provide new ways of learning science, preparing the next generation for studies at university level and the working life. Experience and positive feedback gives motivated and creative students; In our view the best way of decreasing drop-outs.
We have to create more workplaces and businesses. Even more important, the future generation has to create more workplaces and businesses. The wealth of Norway and Nordland lies in the oil, energy and fish, but the most important of them all is knowledge. And we cannot keep on exporting too many of our brilliant youths to other parts of the country or to the rest of the world. We need them here.
Article contributed by Inga-Lill Sundset from Nordland (NO)