Entrepreneurship education for the elderly – does experience replace education?


What is entrepreneurship education and to whom should it be directed at? Does work and life experience replace the need for entrepreneurship education for older entrepreneurs?

The 13th Entrepreneurship Education Days were held in Helsinki from 2nd to 3rd of October 2019 at the Haaga-Helia campus in Pasila. The event was organized in cooperation with Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences and the Department of Economics of the University of Helsinki.
The Entrepreneurship Education Days are intended for researchers, teachers, business developers and for all those working in and interested in entrepreneurship education and entrepreneurship.
In addition to keynote presentations, the program included 44 research or case presentations and three workshops.

This year, the main theme of the Entrepreneurship Education Days was the arc of entrepreneurship education – from childhood to future work and becoming an entrepreneur. The theme also created interest about the starting points of the EntreFox project; the goal of the project is lifelong learning and empowerment of entrepreneurs over the age of 55 or intending to become entrepreneurs.

The presentations of the days were very interesting and brought perspectives on entrepreneurship education for people of different ages. In the Small Entrepreneurs workshop, we got to listen to how primary school children can participate in entrepreneurship education in a program that introduces them to entrepreneurship and develops skills in a small business implemented in a group. Many of the presentations on the human life cycle focused on youth – vocational or university studies. Entrepreneurship education at this stage is perceived as very important, because even if students do not yet start a business at that stage, perhaps a seed of interest in entrepreneurship will be sown at this stage.

On the other hand, we did not see any performances on entrepreneurship education for the elderly. My and Sara Lindström’s presentation on the EntreFox project Lifelong Learning and Entrepreneurs: Findings from the early days of the Entrefox: +55 Entrepreneurs and Working Life project also brought lifelong learning and active aging to the discussion. Older people have a vast amount of experience and skills – how can entrepreneurship education be targeted more at them? Perhaps this target group does not need the same training in entrepreneurship as the younger generation. The themes of work ability and well-being, digital literacy, peer support and support for entrepreneurship with a foreign background, which have been the themes of EntreFox workshops, have proved to be at least useful approaches for entrepreneurs involved in the project.


Hopefully, at the 14th Entrepreneurship Education Days, entrepreneurship education for the elderly would also be more widely included in the program. At least we in the EntreFox project are working on it.


Reetta Raitoharju


Originally posted on the 15th of November, 2019