Entrepreneurial Thinking and Acting in Swiss Vocational Colleges

Switzerland has one of the best ecosystems for entrepreneurship. However, in vocational colleges a systematic integration of the topic is currently missing. In the pilot project we test the implementation within basic vocational training.


  • Lead school Business School
  • Institute Institute for Innovation and Strategic Entrepreneurship
  • Research unit Strategic Entrepreneurship
  • Funding organisation Others
  • Duration (planned) 01.08.2018 - 31.07.2022
  • Project management Prof. Dr. Sebastian Gurtner
  • Head of project Prof. Dr. Susan Müller
  • Project staff Josh Levent
  • Partner Berufsbildungszentrum Olten
    Pädagogische Hochschule Zürich
    Universität Freiburg
    Solothurner Handelskammer
  • Keywords Entrepreneurial thinking and acting, Entrepreneurship, Vocational colleges, Entrepreneurship education


Switzerland has an excellent entrepreneurship ecosystem. This includes, for example, government policies, R&D transfer conditions, programs supporting new ventures, and a highly educated workforce. In addition, the topic of "entrepreneurship" is very well anchored at most universities in Switzerland. Students can participate in entrepreneurship courses to get first insights on the topic. Students working on own entrepreneurial ideas have access to various means of support. However, there is a blind spot. While several excellent extracurricular initiatives exist, there is no systematic entrepreneurship education in vocational education and training (VET). In the last few years, politicians in many European countries have identified entrepreneurship as a relevant, professional competence and foster the topic through national strategies. Yet, Switzerland has so far failed to implement a coherent concept for strengthening entrepreneurial skills in VET. This is of particular concern considering the importance of VET for Switzerland: Every year, more than two thirds of secondary school graduates – around 75,000 adolescents – commence vocational training.

Course of action

A consortium of representatives from the Vocational College Olten, the University of Applied Sciences in Bern, the University of Fribourg, the Zurich University of Teacher Education and the Chamber of Commerce in Solothurn joined forces and launched the initiative “Entrepreneurial Thinking and Acting in Swiss Vocational Colleges – Economic, Social and Ethical Dimensions”. The initiative aims to systematically integrate a validated entrepreneurship program called “myidea.ch” within the Swiss VET system. A pilot project to introduce the entrepreneurship program in four cantons (Bern, Solothurn, Ticino and Valais) in three language regions is supported by the Swiss State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation SERI. The key elements of the initiative can be described as follows: • The pedagogical approach of the myidea.ch program is characterized by working on one’s own idea, linking knowledge input and application, increasing learners’ awareness of social and ecological aspects of their business idea, and the transmission of “negative knowledge”, i.e. understanding how something is not working. • A comprehensive evaluation of the teacher training and the implementation of myidea.ch ensures a continuous development of both driven by empirical data. • The program is disseminated through educated multipliers.

This project contributes to the following SDGs

  • 4: Quality education