Born 50 years ago in France, the Junior Enterprise concept aimed to bridge the gap between the theoretical knowledge that you acquire during classes and the job market where you need actual skills to succeed. There was and still is a clear gap between universities and companies and a strong lack of practical experience for the young people of Europe, resulting in the current and alarming youth unemployment rate of near 19% in the European Union.
Indeed, universities teach knowledge to students by lectures and demonstrations, whereas skills and competencies can only and truly be acquired by concrete and practical experience. The best way to learn is by practicing and teaching something, both activities that are embedded in the JE concept. As you enter the JE, you start working on real projects for clients and managing the organization by yourself; and as you hand over to the next team, you teach them what you have learned over the year, thus making sure that you review and understand what you have achieved and learned. Thus, a Junior Entrepreneur learns by doing and maybe even more importantly, learns how to learn.
In addition to this very important lesson, Junior Entrepreneurs have the unique opportunity to develop a broad set of soft skills throughout the experience, experimenting and learning about leadership, team and project management, teamwork, negotiation and sales, etc. All these skills are crucial, as an entrepreneur or as an employee and the impact of the JE experience has been demonstrated by a research conducted by the European Commission with the support of JADE: “Effect and Impact of Entrepreneurship Education on Higher Education”. The outcomes of this research strongly support and recognize the efficiency of the JE concept. Junior Entrepreneurs show more developed entrepreneurial skills, as well as more successful companies created.
Finally, Junior Entrepreneurs develop their hard skills as they realize real projects for real clients. By supporting an entrepreneur with his new website or realizing a market study for a SME or a big company willing to create a new product, you have the opportunity to actually do things instead of only studying them. And this is applicable in different fields as we see that the JE concept, born in a business school, has now spread to engineering, translation, architecture, legal and even arts over Europe and the world.
It has been 50 years that this incredible concept has impacted society and you have been impacted by it. Now the question is: How are you going to give back to the JE movement and to society?
Written by Yann Camus for JADE May Conference hosted by Lisbon PH