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In the present economic situation, having knowledge of an academic subject is no longer sufficient for a new graduate. Students are increasingly required to have skills and abilities which will increase their employability, such as: the retrieval and handling of information; communication and presentation; planning and problem solving; and social development and interaction. Entrepreneurial education and training provides individuals with the ability to recognize commercial opportunities, self‐esteem, knowledge and skills to act on them. It includes instruction in opportunity recognition, commercializing a concept, managing resources, and initiating a business venture. It also includes instruction in traditional business disciplines such as management, marketing, information systems and finance. Entrepreneurs or the move towards self‐employment is, and will continue to become, an increasingly important element of economic growth and development. It is essential to have the infrastructure required to facilitate entrepreneurial mind-set and encourage self-employment. Having a culture of the creation of a new enterprise is a critical aspect of this infrastructure, as it will encourage students to take the risk of starting a business. The purpose of this paper is to describe the design and introduction of the entrepreneurial mindset for engineering students.
Content may be subject to copyright.
Benefits of entrepreneurship education and
training for engineering students
Valentin Grecu1,*, and Calin Denes1
1Lucian Blaga University of Sibiu, Department of Industrial Engineering and Management, 550024,
10 Victoriei Bd, Sibiu, Romania
Abstract. In the present economic situation, having knowledge of an
academic subject is no longer sufficient for a new graduate. Students are
increasingly required to have skills and abilities which will increase their
employability, such as: the retrieval and handling of information;
communication and presentation; planning and problem solving; and social
development and interaction. Entrepreneurial education and training
provides individuals
with the ability to recognize commercial
opportunities, self-esteem, knowledge and skills to act on them. It
includes instruction in opportunity recognition, commercializing a concept,
managing resources, and initiating a business venture. It also includes
instruction in traditional business disciplines such as management,
marketing, information systems and finance. Entrepreneurs or the move
towards self-employment is, and will continue to become, an increasingly
important element of economic growth and development. It is essential to
have the infrastructure required to facilitate entrepreneurial mind-set and
encourage self-employment. Having a culture of the creation of a new
enterprise is a critical aspect of this infrastructure, as it will encourage
students to take the risk of starting a business. The purpose of this paper is
to describe the design and introduction of the entrepreneurial mindset for
engineering students.
1 The Challenges of the Global Economy
Discoveries and inventions, revolutions and social movements have been the triggers of
progress throughout history. Mankind has to face new challenges in the 21
st century such as
globalization, the rapid pace of innovation, the fast spread of technology and its high speed
adoption in our lives [1]. These factors and many others are changing not only how
businesses and economies are functioning, but also the job market landscape. The
knowledge and skills required by the present and future jobs are changing and consequently
the education system at all levels has to respond and adapt to the new challenges [1].
Cheaper transportation and communication facilitate greater mobility and digital
technologies support long distance exchange of large amounts of information, thus
transforming the global labour markets. International migration used to be a one-way
process, but especially for the ones with technical skills, it has become a reversible choice.
* Corresponding author: valentin.grecu@ulbsibiu.ro
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© The Authors, published by EDP Sciences. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative
Commons Attribution License 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
Scientists and engineers from developing countries are now able to work on increasingly
complex tasks and collaborate with counterparts located at great distances and therefore
they can contribute to their home economies while having social and professional
connections in more advanced economies, without being forced to choose between settling
abroad and returning home to far less attractive professional opportunities. Some even
becometransnationalas they work, and even maintain residences and citizenship, in more
than one nation
[2].
Given the dynamic economic context marked by profound and rapid changes, higher
education institutions can no longer equip their graduates with all the knowledge and skills
needed to perform in their professional life. Knowledge and skills needed for effectively
functioning in a complex global world may be changing. In the information age, industries
will have dynamic needs. According to Tony Dolphin [3], these drivers for change will
continueto cause dislocations and disruptions in the labour market”, so that there will
continue to befundamental shifts in the types of jobs that will be available and skills
demanded by employers. The new jobs that will be created in the future will require
individuals withentrepreneurial, scientific, creative and emotional skills” [1,3].
2 Understanding Entrepreneurship
The link between economic growth and entrepreneurship has been highlighted by many
studies and facts and this connection can easily be demonstrated also by common sense,
economic observation or just by simple intuition: entrepreneurship is based on activities
that convert ideas into economic opportunities.
As a source of change and innovation,
entrepreneurship boosts economic competitiveness and increases productivity [4].
The increasingly globalized world economy challenges organizations to increase
competitiveness, productivity, flexibility and knowledge, factors that are closely associated
with entrepreneurship. The OECD countries have experienced a shift in the structure of the
industry between the late ‘70s and early ‘90s, moving from concentration towards
decentralization, indicating the development of entrepreneurship and the entrepreneurial
mind-set.
The assumption that supporting entrepreneurship is closely related with fostering
a countrys competitiveness appears today more valid than ever, given the technological
change and the intensified global competition brought about by globalization and economic
liberalization.
The fact that entrepreneurship is not a static phenomenon, but rather a dynamic process
is demonstrated by most economic, psychological and sociological research on this topic
[5]. Entrepreneurship is usually associated with issues related to decision making and
represents more than just a mechanical economic factor.
The functional role of entrepreneurs is often highlighted in the existing definitions of
entrepreneurship [6] and refer to decision making, allocating resources, coordination,
supplying capital, bearing uncertainty and innovation [7-8]. Major schools of thought
frequently associate these functional roles of the entrepreneurs with entrepreneurship:
x The Cantillon or Knightian entrepreneur is associated with risk seeking and is willing to
take the risk associated with uncertainty
x
The Schumpeterian entrepreneur is associated with innovation because he/she
accelerates the generation, dissemination and application of innovative ideas
x The Kiznerian entrepreneur is associated with opportunity seeking, as he perceives end
seizes new profit opportunities [9-10]
Entrepreneurship has undeniably impacted the world of business forever and has taken
hold across the globe [11]. The powerful emergence of entrepreneurial activity in the U.S.
in the past decade is just one example that supports this statement. Hundreds of thousands
of small firms have been established each year.
According to Kuratko [11], millions of new
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jobs have been created and for 94% of these new jobs are responsible 15% of the fastest-
growing new firms (i.e., “gazelles”) and less than one third of these gazelles was involved
in high technology [11]. Sixteen percent of all U.S. firms have been in existence for less
than 1 year. Sixty-seven percent of all new inventions are created by smaller firms [12].
These facts prove that entrepreneurial firms are part of the process that re-defines the
market economies. These small and medium sized enterprises play a crucial role in the
innovations that lead to the growth of productivity and the changes in technology that
redefined the market structure and therefore the competition. The market economies are
always in the process ofbecomingas they are dynamic organic entities, being oriented
towards the future, not focusing on the inheritance of the past [13].
Millions of people, including minorities, women and immigrants enter the economic
mainstream through the entrepreneurial firms that enable them to access the pursuit of
economic success. Entrepreneurship is crucial in this evolutionary process, playing an
indispensable role of providing thesocial gluethat connects “Main Streetactivities and
high-tech innovation [14].
3 The Role of Education
Education is the most effective means available to society to challenge the future [15].
Progress depends increasingly more on the capacities to research, innovate and adapt of the
new generations.
Without education, youth participation in the cultural and socio-economic
life is impossible. Education will obviously not solve all the problems that humanity faces
today, but it is essential in the effort to connect the members of the society, generate new
relationships and respect to environmental needs [16].
School instruction, or formal education is not everything. Education also values the role
of family and community and includes non-formal and informal sides. The immense
community of educators
is not being efficiently used to develop the entrepreneurial mind -
set for the younger generation, as they are a crucial human resource whose contribution can
be useful in all local communities.
Entrepreneurship education has become popular for many reasons [17]. Learning about
developing business plans and creating a company allows students to better understand and
integrate finance, economics, accounting, marketing and other business disciplines, offering
them an integrative and enriching educational experience. Entrepreneurship education
encourages the founding of new businesses by students and alumni and equips them with
critical decision-making skills that enhance the success of graduates in the job market.
Furthermore, the entrepreneurial mind-set increases the transfer of technology to the
market, from the university, through the development of technology-based business plans
and student involvement with technology licensing. Finally, entrepreneurship education
creates links between the academic and business communities. Education for
entrepreneurship is considered a useful, applied approach to the study of business and the
economy.
All these reasons are solid arguments for established entrepreneurs to support and fund
entrepreneurship programs in universities and to get involved in developing the
entrepreneurial eco-system in the community where they activate. Entrepreneurship offers
also the possibility to experiment with pedagogy and curricula, as it is generally outside
traditional discipline boundaries, allowing guest speakers and more practical and applied
tasks. These experiments have also impacted and enhanced other business related courses,
thus improving the experience of students.
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4 The Entrepreneurial University
As argued by Etzkowitz, Webster, Gebhart, and Terra [18], there is an increasing trend
observed in universities around the world that aim to become entrepreneurial universities,
incorporating the role of active contributors to the development of new companies in their
local communities, in addition to their traditional role of scientific knowledge creators and
educators Therefore, through their closer and more intense interaction with private
industries and government institutions, universities become an increasingly important
component of the national innovation system [19].
Interest for entrepreneurship education is more and more present among individuals
outside the fields of business and engineering, although at first entrepreneurship education
was firmly connected with these two fields [20]. Entrepreneurship education should be seen
from a university-wide perspective and the increasing interest for this topic in a broader set
of fields, combined with the enthusiasm of alumni from all fields to introduce a real-world
dimension to their home schools
encourages the implementation of the en
trepreneurial
mind-set throughout the whole campus. The gap between real-life situations and the
classroom theories and concepts can be bridged with the help of entrepreneurship education
for students with different specialization fields. Bringing students from non-business fields
closer to the business school is the approach of some institutions that aim to educate
students in an entrepreneurship classroom characterized by diversity. A different approach
of university-wide entrepreneurship education consis
ts of presenting lessons of
entrepreneurship from within a specific field, thus giving a message relevant to the field
itself.
As Streeter, Jaquette and Hovis [20] describe, there are more approaches of
entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial education in universities. Streeter et al [20]
recommend a radiant model of an entrepreneurial university, based on an extensive
research. Such a model involves all stakeholders, being a more complex body of politics,
academics, and finances. In order to move forward such a complex organism, the program
leaders must coordinate and adjust the self
-interests of individual stakeholders, thus
creating a radiant program is a process that takes time. Even if the effort of each academic
unit is only local, they must perceive that they can lay claim to the larger university-wide
program.
However, the radiant model is rather difficult from an academic perspective. Finding
justification in terms of curriculum and availability of the faculty to have entrepreneurship
classes in non-business fields is challenging. The importance given to the bridge between
the work world and the education and preparation phase is crucial for this justification. Not
all majors accept that business education is useful and challenging for the graduates of
those study fields. Therefore, the magnet model presented by Streeter et al [20] will be
more likely to be maintained in higher education institutions that dont see entrepreneurship
as rigorous outside business and/or engineering majors.
The model proposed in figure 1 focuses on a triple approach of the entrepreneurial
university: an internal approach, an external approach and an operational one. The model
highlights the importance of each of these three dimensions, acknowledging the need of
having the appropriate infrastructure and creating a space for students to meet, interact and
foster creativity and innovation. The external approach recognizes the role of the
community in building an entrepreneurial ecosystem and the symbiotic relationship that the
university should have with the business environment and the local community. The third
approach described in the model, namely the operational one, is itself divided into three
components that summarize the activities of a university: research, formal and informal
teaching and learning.
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Fig. 1. Model of the entrepreneurial university.
The model presents also the steps that need to be followed in order to implement the
entrepreneurial mind-set across the campus for achieving the radiant model of an
entrepreneurial university. It all starts with the commitment of the leadership (university
administrators). The following step is creating a structure that will coordinate and monitor
the implementation of the measures needed to transform the university into an
entrepreneurial one. Raising awareness of the importance of entrepreneurship, both for the
economy and for the future of the university is an ongoing process and it should target
students, alumni, faculty, administrative staff and the whole community and business
environment. Engaging the employees in this process is a difficult task, but it is essential
that everyone understands the short and long-term necessity of commitment towards
entrepreneurship education. The mechanism of execution refers to offering all the
stakeholders the necessary means to implement the plan to move forward towards a
university-wide approach of entrepreneurship.
5 Conclusions
Regardless the approach, it is widely recognized that it is increasingly necessary for
students to have transversal skills which will increase their employability. Entrepreneurial
education equips students with abilities that increase their employment potential and
include: the abilities to solve problems, to develop social interaction, abilities to find
information and to handle it for decision making, planning, communication and
presentation skills, etc. Entrepreneurial education and training provides individuals with the
ability to recognize commercial opportunities, self-
esteem, knowledge and skills to act on
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them. It includes instruction in opportunity recognition, commercializing a concept,
managing resources, and initiating a business venture. Traditional business disciplines such
as marketing, management, finance and information systems are also taught. Thus, the
necessity of entrepreneurship education is undeniable.
Individuals must continuously improve their knowledge and skills as a response to
todays rapid pace of change, otherwise economic stagnation will be in place. Training
organizations, such as universities, find it
difficult if not almost impossible to correlate
their
capacity to adapt the education and curricular offering with the pace of change in labour
market needs. In a global, dynamic world it becomes more important that skills taught in
schools are relevant for the workplace and are maintained and improved during the working
life. Individuals cant afford anymore to stop their formal education once entering the
labour market. Building a solid foundation of skills during school years and providing
lifelong learning is probably the viable solution to reduce the skill gap [1].
A long-term strategy that involves governments, employers and educational institutions
(like universities) is needed in order to reduce skill mismatch effectively. Only bringing
together education and the working world can guarantee success. Individuals have to enter
the job market with an appropriate, balanced mix of knowledge and skills that will allow
over the professional life further education in order to cope with the new demands. There
should be coherent guidance in choosing a career path, for a smooth transition from school
to work and for skill improvement over the working life
, to better exploit the skills of
individuals and meet the needs of employers.
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... Skill and abilities attained from entrepreneurship education programs have enabled millions of youth to engage in different small business startups thereby creating jobs and consequently addressing the problems of high unemployment among young graduates. Grecu and Denes (2017) indicated that developed countries have in the recent decades experienced an upsurge concerning the uptake of entrepreneurship among students and young professionals. This is mostly attributed to the increase in the number of institutions venturing into different entrepreneurship programs or courses. ...
... Several academicians and researchers have had varying descriptions and interpretations of entrepreneurship education (Grecu and Denes 2017;Hernández-Sánchez et al. 2019). A section of researchers has described entrepreneurship as an art and science of finding solutions to socioeconomic problems of the global world. ...
... These sectors may include; the entrepreneurship educators, government institutions, senior entrepreneurs, learners, and different business proprietors, among others. According to Grecu and Denes (2017), entrepreneurship training equips learners with several managerial competencies that are necessary for successful business ventures. Entrepreneurship is associated with several knowledge areas that cut across; management of small business startups, project management skills, and emotional intelligence skills, among others, and these play a key role in the management of business or entrepreneurial ventures (Gwija et al. 2014). ...
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... According to Grecu and Denes (2017), the increasingly globalised world economy forces organisations to improve their competitiveness, productivity, flexibility, and knowledge, all of which are closely related to entrepreneurship. As a result, some institutions take the approach of bringing students from non-business fields closer to the business school in order to educate students in a diverse entrepreneurship classroom. ...
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Existing definitions of entrepreneurship highlight the functional role of entrepreneurs, emphasizing their responsibilities for coordination, allocating resources, making decisions, supplying capital, innovation, and bearing uncertainty. This research analyzes the impact that external funding and supportive soft-skills mechanisms such as mentorship, advice, and networking with experienced entrepreneurs have on transforming the entrepreneurial attitude of new entrepreneurs. In measuring attitudes regarding entrepreneurial success, a series of variables specific to the nature of the analyzed entrepreneurial ecosystem are revealed and adapted, starting from psychological research. This approach is implemented to evaluate the self-perception of efficacy and transformation of entrepreneurs after initiating their companies. The survey of Romanian new entrepreneurs is considered as the database. The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) data set is used to consider entrepreneurial motives and impacts at the macrolevel. The correlation analysis, statistical tests, and ANOVA helped to reveal the differences in attitudes to mentorship and similar indicators in the Romanian business environment. The novelty of the research is seen in the consideration of field cases and a global monitoring data set through the prism of ground mathematical methods. The focus on boosting new entrepreneurs with a mixture of finance and soft skills support simultaneously addresses a research gap that is slightly closed by this research. The study showed that the mentoring program for new entrepreneurs increased their self-confidence, especially for young people, taught them how to run a company without outside interference, and significantly transformed the mentality of the participants in the experiment. Thus, the policy of supporting new entrepreneurs not only financially, but also in skills, has good prospects and needs to be intensified.
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Changing Labour Market Needs and the Challenges for Academic Leadership
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