Country: example exists in many European countries (e.g.) Austria, Germany, France, Romania, Slovakia, Unites Kingdom
Economic Sectors: no specific sector
Theme: Delivery of WBL
Educational field and level: Vocational and educational training
Target groups: Management (Education and Training), Teachers and Trainers (Education and Training)
The concept of practice firms is widely accepted as a best practice example for simulation of workplace settings. A growth in the number of established practice firms is expected as well as a strengthening of cooperation with real businesses.
The basic concept of practice firms is to subject learners to the processes and activities carried out in real business, and provide them with a simulated experience of a variety of aspects of working in real economic settings. Practice firms are, in most cases, set up and organised as school-based workshops attended by the learners during specified periods at school. Facsimiles of business working environments are often established in schools, and equipped with elementary office facilities such as ICT appliances, separate phone lines, firm identity items (logos, headed paper), business files and repositories, employee folders, etc. Firms are run by students in a hierarchical structure usually based on seniority, and supervised by teachers, business professionals from real partner enterprises, or both.
Success factors for WBL
WBL in practice firms allows students to acquire elementary business skills and competences via creativity, initiative, and freedom of decision combined with responsibility and a result-oriented approach. Students engage in all stages of the business cycle and gain first-hand experience of the business environment as well as key entrepreneurial competences. This is appreciated by both, educators and future employers. In many countries, SMEs and enterprises cooperate with training firms actively as mentors or by providing materials. Regional, national and international networks were established, meeting at national fairs and participating in international competitions for best performing practice firms.
EUROPEN: International network of practice firms in 33 countries: http://www.europen.info
Country specific information
United Kingdom: http://www.young-enterprise.org.uk