During the Junior Enterprise Global Forum 2018, the global strategy was co-created in order to define the efforts of the Junior Enterprise Network until 2021. We were conscious that different realities require different solutions, but we felt that we needed something to fight for and share responsibilities.
In 2015, during a conference of the United Nations, global leaders defined a universal call for governments, organisations and civil society in order to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people will enjoy peace and prosperity by 2030: the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). These 17 goals have lots of targets and indicator so that it can be easily measured and many times they are connected to each other.
During the Global Forum, three of these goals were defined as the main focus of our movement in the next strategic planning, since they are measurable, universal and aligned to the impact we want to generate. Today we are going to talk about the relation between the JEs and the SDG 4: Quality Education.
Many targets were established in order to achieve the quality education goal, and as it was said before they are closely related to each other, but in this article the focus will be those that are directly under the light of the junior enterprises’ impact.
By 2030, substantially increase the number of youth and adults who have relevant skills, including technical and vocational skills, for employment, decent jobs and entrepreneurship.
Nowadays, the Fourth Industrial Revolution is bringing advancements in many fields such as robotics, machine learning and biotechnology. These technologies are reshaping the way we live and work. By 2030 many traditional jobs will have disappeared and many of us will be working in jobs that still do not exist and we must be ready for that.
According to The Future of Jobs Report, published by the World Economic Forum, a great amount of the core-work related skills are linked to cognitive and social skills such as negotiation, creativity, problem solving, and emotional intelligence. The JE experience of leading a business can not only improve the knowledge the participants acquire in classes, but also facilitate the development of many of these abilities; the students will be able to learn by doing. Besides that, the collaboration of JEs from different areas can also promote the interdisciplinary and expand the horizons of junior entrepreneurs.
By 2030, ensure that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, including, among others, through education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship and appreciation of cultural diversity and of culture’s contribution to sustainable development
Promoting entrepreneurship is one of the ways the junior enterprises are working in order to achieve this goal. The close contact with the market during the graduation or post-graduation can also give the students a pragmatic and idealistic mindset. Thus, they will impact real lives and in a further stage, be able to innovate in their own services so that their technical skills will be in accordance to their reality. By innovating today, the junior entrepreneurs are not only solving current problems, they are getting ready to face challenges that still do not exist.
The junior enterprises have already recognised the need to be integrated at a global level, but to be global, we need to be empathetic too, understanding, respecting and celebrating our diversity. It is quite evident that local problem require specific and local solutions, but the background of a global network promotes the spread of knowledge and, consequently, the impact we create. Great part of innovation is born by the sharing of ideas and this is one of the great benefits of participating in a diverse global group working together for the same purpose.
By 2030, substantially expand globally the number of scholarships available to developing countries, in particular least developed countries, small island developing States and African countries, for enrollment in higher education, including vocational training and information and communications technology, technical, engineering and scientific programmes, in developed countries and other developing countries.
Even though this topic is more focused in youth before their enrollment in tertiary education and even though we do not create scholarships directly, we still can work with those that already are in higher education to improve their skills and make them able to compete for post-graduation scholarships opportunities and other programs. We truly need to consider the impact that the Junior Enterprise Movement generates everywhere, mainly in the least developed regions of the world. Our global and entrepreneurial culture are forming global leaders with entrepreneurial mindset that will be able to shape their communities, and many of them are already doing it.
Skilled junior entrepreneurs, ready to lead the necessary changes, fighting for a better education, a multicultural and diverse network in more places than ever. Our impact in education is made by promoting an entrepreneurial culture for higher education students and the way we found to expand it mainly by creating new JEs, but we are also trying to do it via events, trainings, fomenting public policies, and so on.
Thus, our strategy contemplates the importance of creating new JEs. Our network has never been as big as it is today: we are already more than 50 000 students in more than 1 000 Junior Enterprises and more than 1 500 Junior Initiatives in 40 countries, what represents more than 20% of the countries in the world. Among them, 17 already have their national confederations of JEs at this moment.
We are happy with our outcomes but not satisfied yet. We still want more junior enterprises to be created in order to be present in 70 countries by 2021, counting with 27 national confederations. It means that we want to increase in 75% our presence around the world and we want more 10 confederations to be created, representing JEs in accordance to the International Standards in order to consolidate our network in these countries. This growth will allow more and more higher education students to feel the benefits of the JE experience.
This is just a glimpse of our purpose for 2021, we are also involved with two other SDG, and if we consider that many of those goals are closely related to each other, maybe our impact in next years will be even greater than we can expect. By now, we simply cannot answer this question, but we will keep working, step by step, with the certainty that we are going further than ever and that we are more global than ever. We are still very far from where we want to go, but at the same time we are pragmatic, we can also feel free to be idealists and dream about the day that every young student in the world will have the chance of participating in a junior enterprise.
Photo credits: CNJE & JEToP