The role of junior entrepreneurs as a bridge between academia and business world

Bienkowska 2017

Elżbieta Bieńkowska, Member of the EC in charge of Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, will hold a press conference. Date: 19/07/2017 Reference: P-034881/00-08 Location: Brussels – EC/Berlaymont.© European Union , 2017 / Source: EC – Audiovisual Service / Photo: Lukasz Kobus.

This article was exclusively written for the Sting by Mr Anflonso Catone, Vice President of the European Confederation of Junior Enterprises (JADE). The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writer and do not necessarily reflect The European Sting’s one.

Filling the gap between academia and business world: this is one of the main goals of JADE – European Confederation of Junior Enterprises, and of all its network.

Since 1992, the year of the creation of JADE, the business world faced new and different challenges: the internet revolution, new marketing strategies, smartphones, computers, robots and so on. But at the same time, the skills required by the market changed as well, and with the Fourth Industrial Revolution coming, different capabilities are going to be asked to new recruits. The World Economic Forum released in January a new report named “The Future of Jobs” where chief human resources and strategic officers from leading global employers prioritized the skills needed to thrive in Industry 4.0: problem-solving, critical thinking, and creativity will be the top three requirements in 2020.

From the business’ side, JADE, as an umbrella organization, collaborates directly with corporates and together with them, tries to understand their needs in terms of human resources and social responsibility. In fact, apart from the development of capabilities that companies need nowadays, JADE cooperates with the private sector in order to impact in a positive and innovative way the society. As addressed by the European Commission since 2015, CSR is a fundamental tool for enterprises since it provides benefits in risk management, cost savings and HR management.

Thanks to its structure, JADE has the possibility of acting as a bridge between Universities and businesses. The presence of Junior Enterprises in the higher education system allows an agile and autonomous structure that helps colleges to keep dealing with the most recent challenges for their students. This happens because of the link that Junior Enterprises have with the market: they work on a daily basis with start-ups, SMEs and corporates, therefore they need to be updated about the needs of their clients and provide them with the right skills.

During the last JADE Spring Conference –an event where 300 students from 17 different countries gathered in Brussels – MEPs, Commissioners, Microsoft and the EIIL had a panel discussion about “Developing the skills of the future for society”. This is just an example of how JADE acts as a bridge between academia, companies, and Institutions. In fact, the Spring Conference is a 4 days event where enterprises provide workshops to students and have the chance to discuss with colleges and EU Institutions. In 2017, 14 companies took part in the event providing 28 workshops.

The next JADE Spring Conference will take place from the 8th to 11th March, and more than 400 students will attend the event. This meeting is the right opportunity for companies to get in touch with the Junior Enterprise world, and a chance of direct confrontation with students that will become future managers and entrepreneurs.

The European Junior Enterprise network is able to provide 4.000 projects to businesses, 13.7M of cumulated turnover and develop the skills of 26.000 students in 14 countries. These numbers justify the impact that JADE has towards the education system and the business world. Jean Claude Juncker wrote in an endorsement letter to JADE: “You are building a vital partnership between higher education and the world of work, ensuring that teaching and learning adapt to our fast-changing economy”.  As stressed by the President of the European Commission, our economy changes rapidly and both companies and universities need to be up to date about these changes: JADE’s role is to bridge them, make them share information, and be at the same time a solution to their needs.

About the author

Mr. Alfonso Catone is the Vice President of the European Confederation of Junior Enterprises (JADE). In addition to this role, he is personally in charge of the relationship with the private sector and, at the same time, for all of JADE International Events. Alfonso Catone is graduating from University of Florence (Italy) in Business Management, with a major in Internationalization and Quality. Before being elected as member of the Executive Board of JADE, he has been President and founder of JEFlo – Junior Enterprise Florence, leaving a significant legacy in his University. Mr. Catone started to work at the international level of the Junior Enterprise movement even during 2016, being hired as Business Development Manager.

About JADE

JADE is an umbrella organization that represents more than 26.000 students coming from 300 student-run businesses, also known as Junior Enterprises, located in 280 universities from 14 European countries. A cumulative turnover of €16m per year, coming from over 4000 consulting projects, showcases the proactivity of the network that benefits students, universities, SMEs and other stakeholders, thus leaving a significant impact on the local and international business world. Following the motto “learning-by-doing”, our network bridges the gap between academia and the business environment. 

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