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FRIESLAND COLLEGE ROC - PRACTICES IN PROMOTING ENTREPRENEURSHIP

Introduction

Friesland College is a Regional Training Centre (ROC) for secondary vocational education (VET) and adult education. Every year about 12,000 students follow a study or a course: 9,000 follow a VET study which lasts three to four years, and 3,000 follow short-term courses which can last from a few days to six months.

Friesland College is an open educational institution with respect for all religions and cultures in society.

friesland college

Friesland College is situated in the Province of Friesland (or Fryslân in Frisian), in the north-west of The Netherlands, including four islands along the North Sea coast.  Friesland has 600,000 inhabitants. The region, originally known best as an area for cattle farming, dairy farming and dairy processing, has many businesses related to this industry but has also many other small and medium sized firms in every possible industrial sector, as well as a well-developed services sector. (Multi) national companies are located in Leeuwarden, Heerenveen and Drachten. With its numerous lakes and interesting ancient towns, the province of Friesland has a lot to attract visitors from all over the world making tourism an important factor in the Frisian economy. The Frisians even have their own language, which dates back to the 8th century and is still spoken by a sizable part of the population. Dutch is the national language of The Netherlands. Frisian is the official language in Fryslan, however, English is spoken by almost everyone. In addition, many Dutch people speak German. The city of Leeuwarden has been awarded the title of European Capital of Culture in 2018 which gives an enormous boost to the entrepreneurial initiatives within the creative industry, culture, nature, city, and countryside

Entrepreneurship is related to the areas of sustainable energy, Healthy Ageing and water technology.   As a matter of fact, Friesland College takes part in the Centre of Excellence in Water technology, cooperation between the industry, the local and provincial government, VET educational institutes, the Van Hall Institute for higher education and the University of Wageningen.

Educational philosophy

At Friesland College education begins in practice.  We try to provide more exciting, contemporary and challenging education to students and adults. This invites students’ initiative, curiosity, reflection and practical application of knowledge. Friesland College wants to promote new professionalism in education and training by using a student-centered approach, coaching students to realize their career ambitions. The College aims to offer students practical learning experience in real life settings, and opportunities to develop professional skills and reflective powers, thus encouraging them to take the initiative and become effective learners.

Learning is a constructive process at Friesland College. Students work on their assignments independently or in a group. This can be done in a classroom, a Learning Resource Centre, a small study room or through practical work experience outside the college. Students learn in a way that suits their individual styles of learning and are responsible for their own learning process. Results are determined by the activities the individual student has participated in and are assessed on the basis of the student’s demonstration of having mastered the required skills (competencies). Both staff and students should be aware of their responsibilities and remember that we need to concentrate as much on HOW we learn as on WHAT we are learning together. Sharing knowledge with the industry and other educational institutions, regionally, nationally and internationally, is also very important.

The FC-Sprint 2 concept

FC-Sprint² is an educational approach that has been developed at Friesland College. The approach is meant to increase the efficiency of the education. The approach focuses on a fundamental different attitude of teachers towards students and the building of sources. These sources create more possibilities for learning and discovering.  It appeals to the students’ curiosity and eagerness to learn. These sources are not created as a blueprint. They are developed on demand. Teachers and students can indicate which sources they require and then they are put together. That also means that this collection of sources is never completed but a continuous process.  As for the attitude aspect, teachers stand back in their role as “knowledge” provider and encourage students to search for the information within the sources and materials themselves, before they ask questions or come for advice to their teacher.

Rationale

People of the 21st century must be enterprising.  The world is changing rapidly and gets more and more complicated. People must actively take direction of their own life and careers.  Theoretical and abstract knowledge is not enough anymore.  Most important is the personal attitude towards enterprising which we call ‘intrapreneurship’!   In order to develop this attitude we create challenging circumstances in which they have to find their own way.

Being an entrepreneur is one way to earn money.  We can teach students all the aspects of how to start a business but that is not enough.  The competences needed are:  an active attitude, taking initiatives and responsibilities, working together and being flexible.  Another aspect is developing skills for reflection on own behavior and its effects.  We create a situation for the students for being entrepreneur and developing the intrapreneurial skills mentioned above. If you do nothing, nothing will happen and if you make a mistake you will have to fix it yourself in the company. And feedback from your fellow students mostly works better than feedback from a teacher.  

The entire student has to work in their own Company, even those who have no ambitions for being an entrepreneur in the future.  It is important the students explore en develop their talents in the right setting.  That’s why we are working with heterogeneous groups from different educational programs and courses.

Stakeholders from the World of Work

We work together with an organization called Stichting Jong Ondernemen; a non-profit organization established in 1990 on the initiative of ABN AMRO (a bank), VNO-NCW Netherlands (employer’s organization) and SME’S (an organization for small business companies) in close cooperation with NBA, Chamber of Commerce and the Ministry of Economic Affairs.  Further, we work with local network organizations and entrepreneurs who are open to the development of entrepreneurship among students as The Incubator, a local organization for starting entrepreneurs. To develop their products and services the students  need  to contact  other companies.

Mentors and teachers.

Teachers with intrapreneurial skills are crucial for a successful Company.  A teacher must be flexible, being able to challenge the students to find solutions to common problems themselves, having knowledge of sources   and preferably having a network of entrepreneurs. An important asset is a “growing mindset “. That also goes for other mentors such as former entrepreneurs and accountants.   On the one hand they have to act business-like but on the other hand they have to realize that students are still in a learning phase and must be permitted to make mistakes. It is a matter of attitude

Description of the activity/project

The basics.

‘You have to create the circumstances to invite students to make their ideas (dreams) come true!’

Entrepreneurship is an ongoing process that never stops.

We use as a basics The Entrepreneur-wheel © for a clear definition of entrepreneurship!  

We distinguish 4 phases (stages) during the process of entrepreneurship within College Company. Every phase starts with a verb and ends with a noun.

Phase 1 To observe, perceive the world around you and also look at yourself! -Look, see and hear around you what the developments in the world are: demagogic, economic, social-cultural, technological, ecological and political (DESTEP analyses) what are the trends and changes? (Make it concrete and comprehensive for the students.)

These are the important verbs in order to come to different ideas. The results are ideas (nouns!)

Phase 2. These ideas are abstract; they only exist inside the head and now they have to be transferred into reality. The students can draw, construct, and make a proto-type or a model.  To be of service the ideas will have to be described exactly from the customer’s point of view: what will I get from you when I buy it?  The result of this phase is a concept-product!

This is the really creative phase:  a lot of decisions about the form, materials, size, color, extras and so on have to be made. This phase can take a long time. It also depends on the idea and how technical it is.

Phase 3. The third phase is to research and to investigate. Go to some people with your concept-product and ask them what they think about it.  Choose not only your friends but people who want to tell you their true opinion. You have to ask and to listen.  Train the students not to say ‘oh yes but…’ ask them more about the answer and let them tell you why they have that opinion and what they want to change in your product or service. So you get a lot of feedback for free.  With all that information you can optimize your product. The result of this phase is your product or service which is ready for the market!

Phase 4.  During the fourth phase you organize the business. This is a concrete matter and  a lot of things can be taught. But everything you teach must be connected to the product and the ambition of the entrepreneur.  Do not give them an overload of information which might not be relevant for their company. This can make them uncertain. So let them build their own business with the things they really need. The result of this phase is their own company!

Finally: you need to observe your business and the developments in the world! So you can innovate and develop new products.

Preparing

The objectives (aims) are:

  1. To create circumstances so that students have the opportunity to develop   entrepreneurial skills and a right mindset (intrapreneurship).
  2. To introduce students in a practical way to entrepreneurship in a way they are invited to take their own responsibility and that they are enabled to experience entrepreneurship pure sang.

Creating circumstances:

We prepare a location outside the school, because it helps students to change their focus from student to an active entrepreneur.  At school their experiences are familiar and within their comfort zone; they are used to find information, sources and instructions in a well-organized environment.  Outside the school they have to make their own decisions , to find information in a different way, to be active in building up their company and to solve business  related problems. That is a big challenge!   

  1. A location outside the school with space for max. 10 companies, offices and banners.  Coffee and Thea services, multi-functional printer, etc.
  2. We work either 40 weeks two days every week or one day in 80 weeks or 20 weeks two days and 20 weeks one day.
  3. The summative components of each educational program have to include in the program of the College Company.  
  4. Part of the educational part of the program is preparing a planning with workshops, events, test and exams. Most important is that the Companies do have enough time for their own activities.
  5. Two basic mentors are present every day.   
  6. Every Company has an experienced entrepreneur as their mentor and an accountant.
  7. Professional -specialists are appointed for vocational lessons and workshops which  are partly planned in the year program. The other part comes on demand of the students.
  8. Every Company has its own bank account.
  9. The shareholders amount is max. € 2.250,- Shareholders may have max. two shares.
  10. Transactions over  € 200,- need to be approved by the mentor.
  11. The students  are obliged to work for a pay of € 0, 16 from the moment the shareholders give their green light to the business plan.
  12. The students  also have to pay (a small) amount to rent the space and other services.

 

Starting

A Group of 5 or 6 students with various qualities and from different educational programmes will start up their own business with real products and services, real customers and real money DURING for two days in 40 weeks.

Friesland starting plenary

We start the program with activities like introducing yourself, your qualities and getting acquainted with the others. Presenting themselves and their talents and traps is important to set up the business as they can choose their companions by their talents.  They also get an introduction of the whole program and we let them make a zero-test.  We also introduce them to the Scrum-method.  

Friesland starting workshop1 Friesland starting workshop2

Scrum is a term from the rugby sport. At a scrum a team tries to reach a goal together and win the game. It is a flexible way to reach concrete results. Every morning the students consult SCRUM together; who does which task and at the end of the (short) period (a sprint!) they show the results to each other. It helps the student to plan and to communicate better.

The benefits of Scrum:

Developing

Friesland developing

We train the students in product-development based on the Entrepreneurial wheel©. The 5 or 6 students of a College Company look, together with their entrepreneur-mentor, which product can be brought into the market.  They think about a name for their Company and they divide the job positions and tasks. They compose a management team broad enough to cover all the most important positions in a company,  a director, a HR-manager, a financial manager, a marketing manager and an account manager. They present their Company to each other, the teachers, the mentors and other people who are involved in the process. It is important that the students often have presentation moments. They develop their product and service.  It is important to make it concrete, because then they know exactly what it is, if it is possible for them and what the costs are.  With the concept they hold a little field research.  They have to listen very well what the people say

About their products: That knowledge is important to make their product ready for the market. After that they can compose their business plan, supported by workshops using the Sprint2-method.  The entrepreneur-mentor is also very important in this period, as well as the assistance of the accountant.

Selling

Friesland selling1 Friesland selling2

When the accountant approves the business plan they have to get money to sell shares. If they have their seed capital they organize a shareholders meeting to present their plan to the shareholders. Every Company has an own bank account.  They have to make real costs: they pay themselves 0,16 € per hour, the coffee, the account  etc. All real costs. So they have to sell their products and services in order to make money. They have to run their marketing- and sales plan. The entrepreneur-mentors are there to give them advises and to help them to solve problems. They compose a half-yearly report which gives a nice insight in the results on the development of shares and the functioning of stakeholders. Sometimes they need to change their plans and ambitions.  Every member of the Company has 3 performance appraisals with the HR Manager and two other employees about their behavior, their task and work and their personal entrepreneurial skills.

Rounding off

The students make an annual report which has to be approved by the accountant. They present it to the shareholder, together with their evaluation of the process and their main learning outcomes.  Then they inform the shareholders about their profit percentage. That is their success moment! They celebrate it with their shareholders and the whole group of stakeholders. If they failed, it is important that they are aware of the causes of the failure.  We all make mistakes, that is part of the deal but learn from it. It is always possible that one of the students can make a restart of his own! 

Closing down the business is the final action the students have to complete.

When the entire test are sufficient and the student has all the necessary testimonials for his portfolio he can register for his final exam. Every student has a performance appraisal with a forum of two persons, one teacher and one entrepreneur . He has to show how his company performed based on the Canvass Business Model and he has to make a reflection and review on his personal skills involved in his business.

Friesland groupwork

 

Anchoring of the activity/project in the school

As the students run a real business with real products, services, customers and money the relationship with external world is quite extensive.  Depending on the development from their product they have to contact a lot of other companies, organizations and entrepreneurs.  As a consequence they are presenting themselves and their business on the Open Days of the Friesland College, (4000 visitors), on a Christmas-market, a shopping Centre, and festivals and so on.  Besides that they develop a network of entrepreneurs. They have contacts with the bank, the Chamber of Commerce and an accountant.

Friesland fair Friesland class
Friesland prize

The school in the community

The Friesland College has 6 Schools.

-            School for sports & Move

-            School for creative industries & pedagogical work

-            School of Commerce & services

-            School of Engineering & Technology

-            School for Wellbeing, Care & Service

-            School for Adult Education & AVO

Every School offers various vocational trainings.

Between 50 and 60% of the working population in the North consists of Secondary educated workers. That is a substantial share of the total population. The Friesland College serves about half that market.

Since the beginning of the crisis in 2008, the labour market has shrunk. Especially the regional rural market shrunk. The Friesland College tries to educate people for the local and regional market in order to improve the employability of its students. Therefore Friesland College works closely together with local businesses and entreprises within the region. Setting up an own business and being an  enterpreneur is sometimes a better alternative for earning a living. Apart from the business alliances and strategic partnerships Friesland College also works together with municipalities and the province of Friesland.  Besides that Friesland College is also focused on European developments and keeps track with the Interregional funds such as Interreg, ESF and EFRO.

Relevant regional, national and international developments, business and political input form the basic for the strategic choices of Friesland College.

The Rate plan 2015 is entitled ' from the outside to the inside’ which indicates that the external regional and local situations give direction to the line of action of  the Friesland College.

Achievements and impact

This way of learning has a great impact on the students.  Their self-confidence grows and they get a better insight in their talents. They gather theoretical and practical knowledge of entrepreneurship and they know the way to find the sources for other knowledge.

Because working with functions, meetings and holding function conversations, they also get theoretical and practical knowledge about the functions and the tasks of a director, a marketing manager, a financial manager, hr.-manager and an account manager. They discovered the importation of their own experiences with meetings, planning and presentations and to communicate and working together. And we hope at last that they n make better chooses in their own lives and be responsible for the world and other people.

During the whole process the student get several tests about a lot of aspects; in writing as well as verbal. The standard can be different for different educational programs. So the individual standard is determinable.

Success factors

A clear definition of entrepreneurship.

A clear vision of education and teaching about intra- and entrepreneurship!

Using the ‘SCRUM’ method for a clear communication and structure for working together towards results.

The Canvas Business Mode for insight of how a business works.

Working with the ‘Sprint-method’ which is based on using sources.

Flexible enterprising teachers.

A location outside the school strengthens the intrapreneurial attitude .

Groups with various qualities and educational directions.

Working with shareholders and stakeholders such as the ‘Chamber of Commerce’, ’The Young Entrepreneurs Foundation’, accountants and entrepreneurs.

The summative components of each educational program are included in the College Company program  and will be completed within the College Company.

Several presentations internally and externally on markets and competitions.

Students build a bridge between education and business by their own.

Students are called to account by fellow students which increases their  social awareness.  Reflection on own actions and feedback by peers works very well.

Important skills as leadership, communication and cooperation are trained in real life situations.

Due to various competitions they enter into the public and into the media, allowing their self-confidence and knowledge of the world to grow.

The scope of their studies and their profession is expanded and broadened.

Obstacles and ways to overcome them

Organisational obstacle:  to plan two full days a week throughout the year is difficult to realize because of the different periods of internships or work placement within the educational institutes. Therefore it is important to start in time talking about the project so that a realistic planning is feasible. That is also why we started with other possibilities for timing. For example  80 weeks one day a week  instead of 40 weeks two days or a combination of 20 weeks one day and 20 weeks two days.

Location obstacle: it is hard to find an affordable not-in-school- location with the appropriate facilities in order to create their own “work “environment.  We work with 50 students max, on one location. But in cooperation with the municipality or entrepreneurs we usually find good locations.

Communication obstacle:   Additional communication is needed in order to be able to provide the various educational programmes with information on the College Company programme. That’s why we developed a SCRUM training for teachers and coaches within the different educational programmes of Friesland College.  Besides that we ensure that the responsibilities of the participants are well defined and described and clear to everyone.