Over the last years, strengthening the quality of key competences in VET was selected by the European Commission as SECTORAL PRIORITY. This project will focus on PROMOTING ENTREPRENEURSHIP AMONG YOUNG PEOPLE who are preparing or starting future careers in the construction sector. In line with this focus, the European Builders Confederation (EBC) writes in their 2017 Annual report: “The increasing attention of public policies for the development of job specific skills is good news. However, proper consideration for entrepreneurship is still very much lacking. Entrepreneurial spirit is crucial to undertaking new or innovative activities, but it is also fundamental to the generational transfer of thousands of businesses over the coming years. The development of entrepreneurship has important benefits, both from the economic and social point of view. Entrepreneurship is not only a driving force for job creation, competitiveness and growth; it also contributes to personal fulfilment and the achievement of social objectives. It is therefore important to integrate relevant subjects to become entrepreneurs in VET centres, so that pupils have both the expertise and the stimulation to go down this path.” The European Commission is committed to promote vocational entrepreneurship education and stress its importance at all levels from primary school to university and beyond (e.g., “EntreComp: The Entrepreneurship Competence Framework”, 2016; “Entrepreneurship 2020 Action Plan, 2013). This project will tackle these priorities by developing the TYCOONSTRUCTOR tool currently lacking in VET training for construction workers.
A better consideration of / more effective support for acquiring entrepreneurial competence in VET training would significantly improve the flexibility and mobility of graduates for future construction professions, and further contribute to economic growth. Working as a self-employed entrepreneur in construction requires more than just possessing good technical skills, as often assumed by mistake. Existing VET materials for construction workers do not well integrate entrepreneurial skills in the skills set of their graduates. New possibilities of “INNOVATIVE PRACTICE IN A DIGITAL AREA”, the use of more advanced TEL (Technology-Enhanced Learning), as HORIZONTAL PRIORITY is expected to hold potential for providing more effective support for acquiring entrepreneurial awareness and competence. However, the quality of TEL materials developed to this end so far (there already exist some games on this topic) appears to fall behind, also noted by the European Commission (e.g., Joint Research Centre (2016). The future of the EU collaborative economy: Using scenarios to explore future implications for employment; EUR 28051 EN; doi: 10.2760/354417). A major problem with existing VET training materials is that they fail to relate learning experience to the reality of the working environment. Therefore, this project argues how an apprenticeship-type of VET training, by a providing a series of professional mini-games that offer work-based practice, would be able to promote and monitor the quality of entrepreneurial competence. In this proposal we will elaborate how instructionally well-designed serious games offer powerful and innovative didactical means for achieving such work-based learning, e.g., when they provide broad access to entrepreneurial endeavours, experiences, methods and cases in the context of an ever changing and more complex construction sector.
The choice of these priorities has to be considered in the following context on the market. There’s a rapidly growing target group of enterpreneurs that are aiming or already trying to set up new endeavours in the construction sector, that could benefit from the outcomes of this project. For instance in Slovenia, about 16% of the construction companies are just starting, and the number of companies grows with around 12% each year. Flexibilisation in the construction labour market has taken off strongly in recent years. The flexibility in the construction sector is mainly explained by the spectacular growth in the number and share of self-employed persons (entrepreneurs). The proportion of self-employed workers in the construction sector among construction site staff, in particular, increased dramatically. On average, almost one in two workers on the construction site is a self-employed entrepreneur. Furthermore, this trend is fuelled by a recognition that entrepreneurship is critical for economic growth and employment (e.g., Shane & Ventkataraman, 2000; Kuratko, 2005), and plays a vital role in developing more and/or more able entrepreneurs.