The project "Promoting innovative approaches and developing entrepreneurial skills among university students by creating favourable conditions for graduate employability in Central Asia (TRIGGER)" aims to support higher education in three Central Asian countries, namely Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Although these countries have undergone major positive socio-economic changes in recent years, they still face a number of serious challenges.
A total of 125 projects were submitted under the European Commission's call for projects (CBHE-Capacity Building of Universities), of which only 15 projects from the Central Asia region received funding, representing a 12% success rate. The project is also the only project coordinated by a Slovak university, namely the Technical University of Košice - Faculty of Economics, within the CBHE 2020 call. The project will run from 2021 -2024 and has received EC support of €999,573.
The TRIGGER project focuses on the field of tertiary education in cooperation with enterprises in different fields of activity. It aims to improve conditions at universities so that they can apply the necessary changes and educate young people in new, innovative ways. The result should be a generation of students whose entrepreneurial skills and thinking will open up new horizons and enable them to get a job.
In the first phase of the project, 11 Central Asian universities will gain insight into the current readiness of their institutions to face future challenges and implement the required changes. The universities will use the HEInnovative tool, an initiative of the European Commission, for a self-assessment. The second stage output will be an entrepreneurship education scheme for each of the participating HEIs. This will support the vision of entrepreneurship education and will prepare selected subjects that will be enriched with entrepreneurial competencies. The aim of the last stage is to promote the employability of graduates in cooperation with employers. The intention is to create a structure of internships where not only specific skills related to the field of study are promoted, but also entrepreneurial thinking, which will increase their chances on the labour market. New services will be introduced to support students both during and after their studies, ensuring continuity of continuous improvement of these services.
The TRIGGER project - "Triggering innovative approaches, entrepreneurial skills and attitudes in HEI learners through creating the favourable conditions for graduate's employability in Central Asia" (617309-EPP-1-2020-1-EN-EPPKA2-CBHE-JP) is implemented in the framework of the European-Asian partnership, a collaboration of eleven universities from Central Asia and partners from Austria (UAS BFI, Vienna), France (Université Côte d'Azur, Nice), Greece (IDEC, Athens) and Slovakia (TU Košice and ASTRA).
In January 2021, the first online project meetings were held with the participation of all project partners as well as representatives of the Erasmus+ National Offices in Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Tajikistan.
A major outcome of the EnterMode project is a Virtual Community of Practice that allows to widen views on entrepreneurship education, share good practice and build a common stock of knowledge based on practical experience with entrepreneurship education.
According to Wenger “communities of practice are groups of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly“ (Wenger 2010). They build a common stock of knowledge, accumulate expertise in their domain, and develop their shared practice by interacting around problems, solutions, and insights. A Community of Practice (CoP) is a learning partnership among people who have learned to do something over time and have developed a shared practice, whereas practice is a historically developed way to do something (Wenger 2019).
Since 2008, Europe has been suffering from the effects of the economic crisis. Most effected by the crisis, are SMEs that have not yet been able to return to their pre-crisis level (Entrepreneurship 2020 Action Plan). At the same time, “Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) are the backbone of Europe’s economy” (Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission). They represent 99% of all businesses in the EU. Thus, in order to ensure economic prosperity, innovation, job creation and social integrations, it is essential to ensure SMEs growth and to enhance entrepreneurship mindset and competences.
The Enter.Mode project aims to take European entrepreneurship education a big step further by developing and testing a state-of-the-art model to entrepreneurship education, that invites different levels of learning. It will stimulate entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial skills of higher education teaching staff and company staff and develop an entrepreneurial mind-set and related skills to higher education students.