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Towards a European approach to micro-credentials

JA Europe and its network of 41 national JA organisations strongly support working towards “A European approach to micro-credentials”.  

Micro-credentials are increasingly relevant for the assessment and recognition of acquired competences, including the entrepreneurship competence which is recognized as one of EU’s eight key competences for lifelong learning. These transversal competences (incl. knowledge, skills, attitudes) that are in high demand and essential for future job creation can be acquired through Entrepreneurship Education. It is therefore crucial to ensure more opportunities for entrepreneurial experiences for all young Europeans, as well as the further uptake of micro-credentials assessing and certifying the skills and competences acquired through entrepreneurship education.

With the support of the European Commission, JA Europe has developed a tool in the form of a unique micro-credential, the Entrepreneurial Skills Pass (ESP). The ESP is an international qualification that certifies that students (15-19 years old) have had a real entrepreneurship experience and have gained the necessary knowledge, competences and skills to start a venture of their own or be successfully employed. While students assess their skills and competences and participating in the exam, the online micro-credential gives a great overview for teachers as well to keep track of progress students, improve the programme and support the learning path better. The Entrepreneurial Skills Pass (ESP) includes a full-year in-school mini-company experience; an assessment tool where students reflect on their competences as they progress through the year; an examination of business, economics and financial knowledge.

In 2013, 9 countries implemented the Entrepreneurial Skills Pass in Europe. Since then it has expanded to more than 40 countries in 5 different regions (Europe, Middle-East, Africa, South-America, USA) and has further potential to expand to over 60 countries globally. It is a success story of European-funded initiatives that are taken up at national level across Europe and beyond. The adoption of the Entrepreneurial Skills Pass is encouraged through pan-European entrepreneurship education programmes, student competitions, extra-curricular activities and awareness raising more generally. However, it is critical that both national education authorities, as well as higher education institutions formally recognise micro-credentials such as the Entrepreneurial Skills Pass (ESP) to ensure an even wider adoption for the end-beneficiaries, youth. European Universities are in an ideal position to endorse the Entrepreneurial Skills Pass (ESP) and become the ambassadors of this unique international micro-credential. Through their collaboration on the Entrepreneurial Skills Pass (ESP), we can secure increased focus on teacher training and improved orientation for school leaders (head teachers) around the entrepreneurship competence. The benefits of micro-credentials are especially important for students in Vocational Education and Training (VET), and we therefore believe that all VET providers should offer the ESP micro-credential to their students in order to strengthen their position in the labour market with an additional formal qualification. In this context, the JA network will continue enhancing the quality and quantity of partnerships between businesses, entrepreneurship education networks and schools for a wider impact at national level and internationally. 




1. Enable broad adoption of micro-credentials at all levels and types of education and training 

  • Ensure possibility for any training provider to develop and issue micro-credentials 

Beyond the Universities and Vocational Centers as providers of micro-credentials, any training provider should be able to develop and issue micro-credentials to assess and certify the skills acquired (under certain conditions). NGOs play a crucial role at national level in the further development of the education systems as well as reflecting in a more flexible way the need of youth and the labour market. Unlike academic degrees, micro-credentials are closely linked to recognition by employers that provide concrete further professional opportunities to holders of the micro-credential. This link between education and the world of work should be widely showcased and encouraged. 

  • All Vocational Education and Training providers to offer micro-credentials to their students

Starting with the Centers of Vocational Excellence in European countries, all VET providers should offer micro-credentials such as the ESP to their students. The ESP offers schools a full package to support entrepreneurial learning outcomes including the mini-company programme, teacher training and assessment/evaluation. 

  • All Universities in Europe to recognise micro-credentials including the Entrepreneurial Skills Pass (ESP)

We call on all Universities to endorse and formally recognise the Entrepreneurial Skills Pass (ESP) micro-credential, a pan-European certification of a broad range of transversal skills. Specifically, the network of EU’s 41 European Universities can become the ambassadors of the micro-credential by endorsing the ESP and encouraging other Universities to follow.


2. Develop European Quality Assurance for micro-credentials

  • Consider the creation of an independent body to certify micro-credentials in order to ensure alignment of the criteria and assessment of all micro-credentials.
  • Formal recognition of Entrepreneurial Skills Pass micro-credential in Qualifications Frameworks.

In a global labour market there is a strong need for a European-level recognition of learning experiences through micro-credentials. Although entrepreneurship is recognized as one of the eight key competences for lifelong learning, education systems do not comprehensively measure and assess the entrepreneurship competence. In order to bridge this gap, we call on both the European Union and the national Ministries of Education to formally recognise the Entrepreneurial Skills Pass (ESP):

- Formal recognition of the Entrepreneurial Skills Pass and its learning outcomes within the European Qualifications Framework

- Formal recognition of competences certified by the Entrepreneurial Skills Pass at national level within the National Qualifications Frameworks. As an example, the Ministry of Education in the Czech Republic has formally endorsed the Entrepreneurial Skills Pass and the European Commission can play a role to encourage all European countries to follow their example.

About JA Europe

JA Europe is the largest non-profit in Europe dedicated to preparing young people for employment and entrepreneurship. JA Europe is a member of JA Worldwide® which for 100 years has delivered hands on, experiential learning in entrepreneurship, work readiness and financial literacy. JA creates pathways for employability, job creation and financial success. Last school year, the JA network in Europe reached almost 4 million young people across 40 countries with the support of nearly 100,000 business volunteers and over 140,000 teachers/educators.

For more information, please contact minna@jaeurope.org

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