Practice Enterprises reinforce academic skills and achievements, reignite interest in education, and raise student desire for self-development and the pursuit of lifelong learning. Students are actively involved in the learning process and decision-making activities, increasing student motivation, initiative, creativity and responsibility. Learning is experienced as a natural process, primarily through interaction. Students can try out different jobs and tasks and see where their career could take them. In addition to its academic benefits, a Practice Enterprise also serves to enhance quality of life and increase student mobility by promoting intercultural learning and the respect of diversity. Through their interactions with secondary students in other countries, they are much better equipped to adapt and cope to today’s fast-changing world and learn to effectively handle new situations.
The majority of Practice Enterprises worldwide are located in VET schools and institutions. When the acquisition of knowledge and skills is complemented by the acquisition of experience, then a change in behaviour occurs. This change in behaviour forms the essence of the learning process and is vital when work begins in a real company. Trainees gain real-world work experience. This includes experience of the practical aspects of work and of working together in a group. Learning in a simulated situation gives trainees the opportunity to experience real events while allowing them to make mistakes and to learn from these mistakes. In Practice Enterprises, trainees are encouraged to take on leadership roles in their businesses. Empowering in this way and facilitating access to relevant and transferable training provides access to better jobs, as well as real-world experience that can be applied to a CV.
The Practice Enterprise prepares students for their eventual entry into the real world of work. It puts the theory they’ve learned in the lecture hall to practice in a work-based environment and is often a first work experience for University students. It makes the connection to the real world of work, which can be very different from the academic environment of a University. Through developing and managing student-run enterprises, they learn professionalism, business acumen, corporate knowledge, presentation skills, and teamwork. Through their business and trade across industries, borders, and cultures, University students develop hands-on knowledge of the expectations of the workplace and the economy, thereby improving their employability and spirit of entrepreneurship.
Practice Enterprises work by complementing actual employment experience and providing enhanced employment prospects by helping participants to learn, develop and increase their range of professional skills and to update their real-world working knowledge. It is the ideal forum to improve soft, professional and technical skills in job seekers. Practice Enterprises also provide a real-world environment that can train commerce and business skills far more clearly and intensively than is the case in most companies nowadays. The placement rates for job seekers completing a Practice Enterprise programme can be as high as 85% in countries using the concept to reintegrate job seekers into the labour market, due to its real-world skills acquisition and methodology that matches the real business world.
DISABLED AND DISADVANTAGED
The Practice Enterprise provides an ideal learning environment, where participants can work at their own pace and progress at the rate they are capable of. Learning in a simulated situation gives participants the opportunity to experience real events while allowing them to make mistakes and to learn from these mistakes without prejudice. The Practice Enterprise empowers participants and gives access to training that may not be available via conventional methods. The concept enhances the quality of life for disabled and disadvantaged groups by affording them an opportunity for real-world skills acquisition and increased access to the labour market through the Practice Enterprise network of mentor companies and real-world business partners. There is also the possibility of distance learning, opening up avenues for education not available in conventional learning environments.
The Practice Enterprise is the ideal forum for entrepreneurship training. Trainees can put their business knowledge to the test, try out new concepts, develop and implement their business plan, experience the different departments and roles in a business and get a first-hand chance to create a budget and manage finances, in an environment with limited risks. Practice Enterprises destined for entrepreneurs can be in an incubator format, or combined with other target groups such as unemployed or university students. The Practice Enterprise learning-by-doing concept aims at simulating the entrepreneurial spirit and contributes to business skills development and entrepreneurial self-confidence and competence.
The real-world environment of the Practice Enterprise can be easily adapted to a number of target groups. These groups can also be blended to create a common learning environment, thanks to its standardised methodology. Disadvantaged groups such as migrants or disabled persons can easily be matched in a Practice Enterprise with job seekers or aspiring entrepreneurs. As the concept is tailored to the requirements of the real-world business environment, matching different target groups actually mimics the real-world labour market and provides a forum for complementary skills acquisition.