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Transport Academy - Practices in Promoting Entrepreneurship

This case study was prepared by Jana Kostolná, Martina Čelková, and Ivan Palúch from Transport Academy, edited by Joseph Tixier from the OECD LEED Programme 

Introduction

Transport Academy is located in the Slovak Republic, in the city of Žilina and is focused on the education in the transport sector in accordance with the structure of automotive industry professions.

Transport Academy is a contributory organization, financed by the Žilina Self-Governing Region, which is also its founder. The school is a legal entity and its statutory body is the headmaster of the school, appointed for a term of office by the Head of the Žilina Self-Governing Region.

Rapid expansion of the automotive industry in Slovakia and Žilina (KIA MOTORS Slovakia) predetermines our school to prepare its students for blue collar as well as technical and economic professions within the industry, as well as for the further university education, e.g. University of Žilina.

Transport Academy was certified BBB, highly erudite and professionally managed institution, by International Education Society, London /IES/ in 2011.

In 2013, Transport Academy was granted the status of the Centre for Vocational Education and Training for the automotive industry. The main objective of the centre is the provision of vocational education and training to pursue the particular professions and professional activities. The school complex consists of one three-floor and one two-floor buildings, two-floor school dormitory and sport centre. In the main building, a language laboratory together with several specialized classrooms for teaching administrative techniques, applied computer science, VET subjects focusing on car repair and electrical engineering, are located. Practical training is carried out at the VET center (school workshops) and contracting firms are also employed. The training ground for a driving school is also a part of the school area.

Transport Academy offers the GCSE courses in the fields of operation and economics of transport, transport equipment and operation, transport academy, traffic control, engineering, GCSE and vocational certificate courses in the field of electrical engineering and vocational certificate courses for auto - mechanics, auto - electricians, bodywork and paintwork professionals.. There are 80 teaching and 20 non-teaching staff employed by and about 780 students attending the school at the moment.

As part of the RSOV project (Development of secondary vocational education) Transport Academy aims to incorporate the model of dual education, in which external partners will be responsible for practical training and theoretical education will be provided by the school.

The wide scope of Transport Academy activities gives its students the opportunities to gain insight in business, orientation on the labor market and use these opportunities to their advantage. 

Our school also participated in the project "New methods in teaching vocational subjects", under the auspices of the EU – CEDEFOP, where the professionals from the field of education from Germany, Malta, Turkey, France, Estonia, Ireland and Romania expressed their views on the new trends in teaching.

Rationale

The aim of our school is to develop natural gifts and strengths such as diligence, creativity and entrepreneurial skills as well as strategic partnership with future employers, non-profit sector, parents and industry partners to promote entrepreneurship and link theoretical education with vocational training so that our graduates are ready to enter the labour market and start their future career with any further difficulties.

Our strategic goal is the quality of vocational secondary education and training. Within the secondary education system, we try hard to ensure conditions and environment suitable for the implementation of main educational trends. The theoretical education and vocational training of our future graduates is focused on the labor market requirements in the global world, while having in mind enhancement of competitiveness in the region and in the integrated Europe.

These are the main objectives set up by our school management. Therefore, the collaboration with a professional non-profit organization Junior Achievement Slovakia (a licensed partner of Junior Achievement – Young Enterprise Europe from Junior Achievement Worldwide) which is a leader in entrepreneurial education in Slovakia as well as a recognized partner for the public sector, professional associations and chambers of commerce has been quite a challenge. Their programs give students opportunity to get engaged in their first real entrepreneurial experience, a student company. The vision of Junior Achievement is: after completing the training programs, young people get to know what they want in life and how to achieve it. The message is to provide young people in Slovakia with superior entrepreneurial, economic and financial education through practical programs that encourage entrepreneurial and economic thinking and offer preventive solutions for the employment of young people. Our school has launched the educational program of Applied Economics, designed for the students from 17 to 19 years of age. Applied Economics uses modern methods of education in interactive, experiential and practical manner, so called "learning-by-doing". It is based on gaining experience and skills that lead to development of educational, communication, personnel and labor competencies of students and its basis are three pillars - theory, students company and consultant.

Theory

Theory is taught by teachers through an interactive online textbook www.vzdelavanie.jasr.sk, which helps students understand the basic principles of economics and values of the free market. Based on the practical examples, it simply and clearly describes the basic characteristics of the free market system with an emphasis on private property, the monetary system and competition.

Voluntary consultant

In order to interlink theory with real economic environment, the experts from the business and managerial practice are invited to be part of the program. They participate in the lessons, share their experiences, assist in the running of Students Company and appropriately complement the theoretical education. For students, a consultant becomes their model and advisor. Gradually, four teachers of economic subjects have been trained to teach this program, motivated by student’s enthusiasm and effort to imitate the real entrepreneurs. Students discover unknown side of their personalities and are seen in different light than during the theoretical teaching. Many of them surprised us and become team leaders. From our perspective, the main idea of this program is: "At the beginning of the school year, we launch the project working with children, at its end you look at young, confident and responsible people who matured in front of our eyes. Applied Economics change students and remind you why you once became and still are a teacher."

Description of the activity/project

To achieve the goals of nurturing an entrepreneurial mind set in our VET students and prepare them to the job market, we implemented a Students Company, Young Leader programme, and Skills for the Future Project.

Students Company

Transport Academy meeting

Every year in June, we approach students interested in participating in the program Applied Economics. Then, at the beginning of new school year we open 2 classes (2 fictitious entrepreneurial entities), which compete one against another. The business period starts with the delivery of charter, after the requirements needed for the establishment and running of applied economics students company were met. Students acquire theoretical knowledge in the practical circumstances. The established companies simulate the functioning of public limited company. The aim is to enable young people to understand the functioning of the company from its establishment to its liquidation. Students set up their own students company for the period of a school year under the guidance of a teacher and a consultant and run the company the same way as those active on the real market. During the operation, they learn the practical aspects of business and management, how to communicate, collaborate, think creatively and solve problems. The setting up of the company is followed by the management elections and shares issuing as to gain initial capital.

Transport Academy group

Based on market research, they prepare a business plan and carry out production and sale of products supported by marketing activities and management accounting agenda. All proposed business activities of students are carried out under the supervision of a teacher. Let us mention several activities undertaken by our students: Easter and Christmas markets, organization of sports tournaments, manufacturing of custom T-shirts on order, students’ cafeteria etc. At the end of the school year they close their activities and exit the books – they prepare a report on the financial means the company - Income Statement and Balance Sheet, they pay income tax, write an annual report, pay out dividends to its shareholders and dissolve the company according to applicable law and regulations. The program does not take place only on a fictional basis, but students work with real money and offer real products and services. Commercial register and the tax office are simulated by Junior Achievement Slovakia. Registration and activity associated with the students society requires symbolic fee charges, which in turn create real environment for future business activities.

Young Leader

Young Leader was one of the national competitions students participated in within the scope of Applied Economics courses. It was a way how to find leaders from among the students with a positive attitude towards the work in students company, a way to find those really interested in their further development. Successful young leader has to be broad-minded, balanced, creative, communicative, responsible, and able to work effectively with other people and lead a team. Students companies presented annual paper on the issue "What is my personal contribution to the effective management of students company". Here students evaluated their activities, achievements and problems of the company. They expressed their opinion in terms of their functions and addressed specific issues and problems encountered during the operation of the company. Every year, we achieved excellent results in the regional rounds of the competition and at the national finals was the Transport Academy awarded one of the first prizes.

Skills for the Future Project

Transport Academy workshop

A leading international automotive company implanted in the region and Junior Achievement - Young Enterprise Europe created a project to promote the education of young people in the fields of science, technology and engineering, particularly the acquisition of business skills for the future employment.

Objectives of the project:

As part of the same project, our school participated in the following activities:

  1. Innovation & Creativity Camp - "Transport-educational project for secondary school students" in Bratislava - the aim was to devise roads safety activities and prevent the loss of the most valuable thing that is human life of young driving license holders.
  2. In order to increase the school’s educational capacity while maintaining costs low, the we participated in the competition organised by the car manufacturer who donates one car each per country each year as a teaching tool for secondary schools students based on the online voting of students, staff, parents and supporters of our school. The vote was held on the web portal hoted by JA-YE. Our school received the third largest number of votes in the international competition and the largest number for Slovakia, thus earning the prize.
  3. The visit of the manufacturer plants in the Czech republic- students attended an excursion to the Czech plant in Nošovice, where equipped by protective goggles, wireless stations and a protective jacket swooped into the company train and took a guided tour of the entire plant.
  4. Transport Academy Skills for the Future
    Students Companies Trade Fair - where we presented our business activity, Workshops Open Day, organized for primary school pupils. The main idea was to give pupils opportunity to obtain the technical skills at seven stations, acquire basic technical habits: work with the saw, work with a screwdriver, tire replacement, disassembly of gearbox, tire slalom race. 13 primary schools took part in the activity that competed in the knowledge test and technical skills. Top three teams were awarded. Due to its success, we are looking forward to organize the competition on annual basis. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0fqLtyM5osE  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yL1tz8DcF44

Anchoring of the activity/project in the school

We have been realizing the above mentioned projects for more than 10 years. The school management has always been supportive regarding implementation of entrepreneurial activities. Younger students are already accustomed to business activities of students companies and always look forward to sale of shares. Our entrepreneurial activities have been published on the school website, social network and the websites of students companies. All students are well-informed about the activities via school radio and advertising posters created by the students themselves as part of the marketing activities and promotion of students company. The business activities include even philanthropy.

Transport Academy reward

In the past, the students participated in the sale of UNICEF Christmas cards and Blue Button fund-raising aimed at the children in developing countries. Another project was the Children's Safety Line, the national program of the Slovak Committee for UNICEF, providing comprehensive services to assist children in Slovakia as well as their parents who find themselves in difficulties. Last school year, the students participated in voluntary charity event "Saint Nicholas Day for Homeless" in the House of Charity of St. Vincent in Zilina. Students company gives opportunity to participate in the humanitarian projects and prepare entrepreneurial activities and activities aimed at helping people in need. Applied Economics course annually incorporates new ideas and inspiration by Junior Achievement Slovakia (closely collaborates with and accepts recommendations by Junior Achievement and).  An example of the new activity is namely the Skills for the Future Project, which we continue to participate in again. Opportunity to obtain the certificate of business skills EntrepreneurialSkillsPass - ESP, recognized by SMEs, as well as international organizations and educational institutions across Europe is the novelty of this school year. The first requirement is a real business experience, supervised by teachers and gained while working in students company. The second one is the students' self-assessment tool that maps the overall progress of the student within the students company and the third one is the final test, aimed at the entrepreneurial, economic and financial knowledge acquired by the students during their work in the students company

The school in the community

Our school holds a firm position in the local community, considering activities that we offer to general public. Since January 1, 2013 we have become the Centre of Vocational Education and Training with accredited programs in Chassis Diagnostics of Motor Vehicles, Parallel Diagnostics of Motor Vehicles Drive Unit and Serial Diagnosis of Motor Vehicles, designed for teachers and trainers in vocational education. We also cooperate with the Union of Pensioners of Slovakia – Žilina and give seniors chance to gain skills in working with computers, online and offline communication. In cooperation with the Children of Slovakia Foundation we prepared a School of Family Finances Project, focused on financial literacy. Both activities have been met with great interest from the elderly, especially due to the possibility of meeting the younger generation and the understanding of financial literacy. The Mobile Skid School Project, organized in  April 1 – 17, 2014 in cooperation with several institutions (KR PZ Žilina, DPMŽ, KIA Motors Slovakia Ltd, Pontis Foundation, Overcome Barriers Civic Associations - School for Europe, Slovak Red Cross) gained a great deal of attraction as well. The aim of the project was to acquire basic knowledge and practical skills in crisis situations.

Achievements and impact

For teachers, success is every little thing taught to students and carried out accordingly. Considering students company, the achievements are: 

Each year, we try hard while launching new students companies to overcome passivity of students and motivate them to better performance, compare their business activities with tangible reality and aid them through the obstacles, not give up and convince them that the initial failure might be the way leading to success. It is not the easiest task to attract the consultants from the business environment, who would share their experience and would be a model for our students. The restriction of business activities by the school can be also seen as a problem, students are disappointed and give up, but outside of the educational process they are not willing to carry out entrepreneurial activities or interested in participating.  The repeated annual victory in the Young Leader competition in the regional rounds and participation at the Conference of Young Leaders - a four-day final competition aimed at personal development and management skills was a big success for our school and its students.  The students gained new friendships, skills and experiences and had the opportunity to meet some of the prominent businessmen and businesswomen. The victory of our students at the Conference of Young Leaders, where they succeeded among the competitors from all over Slovakia was also a great success.

Benefits to students:

Success factors

Obstacles and ways to overcome them

Motivation of students, development of interest in every single activity, promotion of entrepreneurial thinking by local entrepreneurs and organization of activities promoting entrepreneurship are seen as the most efficient ways to overcome above mentioned difficulties.