Provided that a large part of the European gross income is generated by SME and entrepreneurs, entrepreneurial competences (be it to found start-ups and enterprises, to generate ideas and processes as intrapreneurs or just to contribute to innovation) become increasingly important in European societies and economies.
The acquisition and validation of competences related to entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation has not yet been thoroughly integrated in European HEI, neither in curricula nor traineeship programmes.
If we perceive “Entrepreneurship and Sense of Initiative” as a cross-cutting “key competence” like promoted by the Commission in 2006 and updated in 2018 in the skills agenda, the HEI should introduce them in a cross-cutting modular way and not just related to specific study domains like economics.
It is a challenge for universities to prepare students for changing work processes towards more open project work (Mayer & Solga, 2008). An increasing innovation competition of companies (Antonic & Hisrich, 2003) requires an increasing demand for innovative action (intra- and entrepreneurship) of employees in almost all work contexts (Boon, van der Klink & Janssen, 2013).
The PITCH project offers approaches, learning methods and content with respect to both innovative action and entrepreneurial competence development.
Therefore, the project is focusing on different theoretical and didactical concepts, such as:
- Fostering the “intrapreneurial self-capital” of HE staff and students, i.e. “core of individual intrapreneurial resources used to cope with career and life construction challenges” (di Fabio, 2014).
- Fostering a “work agency mindset” of HE staff and students. Work agency ”is defined as a “subject-centered socio-cultural” concept focusing on “creativity”, “autonomy”, and “self-fulfillment”, as well as “acting as a force for change”. Besides, it is supposed to encompass “suggestions for developing existing work practices”, but also to exercise resistance and reforms within the organization (Wiethe-Körprich et al., 2017).
Both concepts make it clear that innovative action is a 21st century skill (European Commission, 2006). The project develops non-cognitive (i.e. basic needs, self-efficacy), cognitive aspects (i.e. subject-specific knowledge, specification of limitations) and skills (i.e. perception of opportunities, creativity, implementation power) that support this development process and assess the learning outcomes.
PITCH will be grounded on the competence framework set up by the EntreComp initiative founded by the Joint Research Centre.
It will turn the competence framework into an operational planning and validation matrix, using the reference systems of the LEVEL5 validation system which has been developed by a European expert group since 2005 and applied in more than 40 European LLP and ERASMUS+ projects with several thousands of learners.
PITCH will connect competences related to creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship to the European validation systems in order to safeguard a reasonable credit transfer on entrepreneurship learning modules.
Since 2008 the EQF is being put into practice across Europe. It encourages countries to relate their national qualifications systems to the EQF so that all new qualifications issued from 2012 carry a reference to an appropriate EQF level. By connecting LEVEL5 and EQF, the PITCH project delivers its outcomes and approaches directly on the European level by feeding its deliverables into this Europe-wide system, thus responding to the need to develop and test suitable tools for putting these systems into practice.
PITCH contributes to the EQF by establishing concrete sets of reference systems for entrepreneurial competences that can be transferred across other European member states.
However, the EQF only relates to cognitive performances. It does not consider the affective dimension (emotions, attitudes and values) which is not only a key factor (impulse) to learning in general but especially to potentials regarding creativity, innovation and eventually entrepreneurship. This dimension is additionally being tackled in the LEVEL5 validation.
The connection of both approaches (EQF and LEVEL5) also contributes to the bridging of formal and informal learning by blending both learning modalities in an open (IT-supported) learning space.
Furthermore, it will enrich European certification systems (e.g. EUROPASS), since it will detect, visualise and document competences related to creativity and innovation and the competence developments in an evidence-based way for the first time.