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Martín-Gutiérrez, �.; Montoro-Fernández, E.; Dominguez-Quintero, A. Entrepreneurship Education, Self-Efficacy and The “PElEO” Program. Encyclopedia. Available online: (accessed on 23 June 2024).
Martín-Gutiérrez �, Montoro-Fernández E, Dominguez-Quintero A. Entrepreneurship Education, Self-Efficacy and The “PElEO” Program. Encyclopedia. Available at: Accessed June 23, 2024.
Martín-Gutiérrez, Ángela, Elisabet Montoro-Fernández, Ana Dominguez-Quintero. "Entrepreneurship Education, Self-Efficacy and The “PElEO” Program" Encyclopedia, (accessed June 23, 2024).
Martín-Gutiérrez, �., Montoro-Fernández, E., & Dominguez-Quintero, A. (2024, January 15). Entrepreneurship Education, Self-Efficacy and The “PElEO” Program. In Encyclopedia.
Martín-Gutiérrez, Ángela, et al. "Entrepreneurship Education, Self-Efficacy and The “PElEO” Program." Encyclopedia. Web. 15 January, 2024.
Entrepreneurship Education, Self-Efficacy and The “PElEO” Program

Youth unemployment has been the focus of attention of international and community bodies in the area of social rights. Specifically, there is a need to promote attitudes and skills to access employment, decent work, and entrepreneurship. The measures implemented have not been effective. In 2023, Spain had the highest youth unemployment rate in the European Union (29.6%). An improvement in the level and quality of education and training of young people would reduce their level of unemployment. Entrepreneurship education is, therefore, a necessary value in the society of the 21st century since it is a tool for the development and growth of the younger population.

entrepreneurship education program self-efficacy personal initiative adolescents social rights youth unemployment

1. Need for Entrepreneurship Education

In the last decades, youth unemployment has drawn the attention of international and community organizations (Dasho 2022; Pennoni and Bal-Domańska 2022). Job insecurity, low social protection levels, and the increase in poverty and social exclusion are deeply embedded in well-being models, hindering the decent social integration of younger generations and their expectations of personal and professional development (Hernández-Bejarano 2022). Thus, in the year 2022, the Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights of the European Union (EU) stated that: “it is our priority to help young people to integrate in the job market, especially those with greater difficulties, since they also have many strengths” (European Commission 2022). To attain this goal, initiatives are being developed with the support of important economic funds. However, the data published by Eurostat (2023) confirm two verified facts in current reality: on the one hand, the measures proposed by the EU have not produced the expected results in terms of effectiveness, and on the other hand, there are important inequalities regarding youth unemployment among member states. For example, Germany has a remarkably low youth unemployment rate (5.4%), which is the lowest in the EU. On the contrary, Spain has the highest youth unemployment rate in the EU. In the year 2023, approximately 29.6% of employable people under 25 years of age will not have the option of integrating into the job market. Thus, Spain is even above other Mediterranean countries like Greece and Italy, where the percentage of unemployed youths is around 27% and 23%, respectively. These values are almost twice as high as those reported in the countries of the Eurozone and the European Union (Fernández 2023).
Youth unemployment casts, for this population, a harsh reality dominated by precariousness, the lack of opportunities and decent work, discouragement, early education dropout, and an alarming increase of two subgroups of young people at considerable risk of social exclusion (Gómez-Torres and López-Martínez 2019): the so-called NEETs (young people who are Not in Education, Employment, or Training) (Pennoni and Bal-Domańska 2022), representing an average of 13.7% of the EU-28 population aged 15–29 years (Eurostat 2022; Liotti 2022); and “poor workers”, thus called for the characteristics of their labor relationships, which are dominated by their temporary nature and low salaries. This certainly worrying problem is evidenced by the data reported in different studies. According to the International Labor Organization (ILO 2023), over 68 million youths (women and men) worldwide are looking for jobs, and more than 123 million are working but live in poverty. In the EU, as of December 2022, almost 3 million young people were unemployed. These numbers reflect the degree of effectiveness of the measures implemented to stop this situation (Liotti 2022).
The United Nations (UN 2023), now more than ever, insists on the urgent need to comply with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) to “ensure the well-being of people, economies, societies and our planet”. In this line, the studies conducted by the ILO (2023), which address the efficacy of the active employment policies and national programs focused on youth employment, underline the need to help young people find decent jobs in order to attain the SDGs.
At the international level, the 2030 Agenda addresses the situation that youths are going through in terms of employment (Sierra-Zamora et al. 2021). Specifically, this agenda establishes 17 global objectives, which are interconnected and designed to “attain a better and more sustainable future for everyone”. Specifically, SDG 4 aims “to guarantee an inclusive and equitable quality education and promote learning opportunities for everyone”. Its Goal 4.4 establishes for the year 2030 the aim of considerably increasing the number of youths and adults with the necessary technical and professional competencies to access the world of working, decent employment, and entrepreneurship (UN 2015). In turn, SDG 8 aims to “promote inclusive and sustained economic growth, full and productive employment, and decent work for everyone”. Its goal 8.3 demands the promotion of development-oriented policies that support productive capacities, the creation of decent jobs, entrepreneurship, creativity, and innovation, as well as the formalization and development of small and medium companies through access to services (UN 2015).
One of the main objectives of the European Pillar of Social Rights Action (European Commission 2017) is to increase the employment rate of the active population (18 to 64 years of age) to 78% by the year 2030. Moreover, it establishes the goal of reducing the rate of NEET youths aged 15–29 years to 9% by improving their job expectations. In this context, it encourages the member states to apply the reinforced Youth Guarantee, with a particular focus on quality offers that support a stable integration in the job market, making use of the financial support of the EU.

2. Spanish Context

In Spain, the Youth Guarantee Plus Plan 2021–2027, among its different objectives, aims to improve the qualification of young people to find a job, approach the search for new employment opportunities, reduce school dropout, promote youth entrepreneurship, and make use of opportunities derived from digital and ecological transition (Ministerio de Trabajo y Economía Social 2020, 2023). This plan consists of the same six axes as the Spanish Strategy for Employment Activation: counseling, training, employment opportunities, equal opportunities in access to employment, entrepreneurship, and improvement of the institutional framework. This plan grants continuity to the already developed Action Plan for Youth Employment 2019–2021 (Servicio Público de Empleo Estatal 2018) and the Strategy for Youth Entrepreneurship and Employment 2013–2016 (Instituto de la Juventud de España 2013). In 2022, the Spanish Government implemented measures gathered in (Royal Decree-Law 32/2021 2021), of December 28th on urgent measures for labor reform, guarantee of employment stability, and the transformation of the job market, whose aim was to fight temporality, especially among the groups that were most affected by the latter, such as young people. Moreover, the labor reform aimed to increase the labor rights of workers and productivity, as well as to promote training and safety in the workplace.
To sum up, the different organizations recommend interventions that promote employment growth, the development of skills, self-employment, the improvement of labor conditions, social protection, and dialogue (ILO 2020). With these goals, the policies that should be worked on must be aimed at supporting employment and the maintenance of income via financial support and fiscal reductions for companies, as well as measures of employment preservation for workers through agreements for the reduction of working hours, partial unemployment benefits and expansion of social protection, and social-care and public-employment programs. However, this should be done from a differentiating approach, i.e., focusing on the people, their entrepreneurial attitudes and initiative, and the quality education they receive (Schmiedeknecht 2020).
The training of youths as an essential element for labor insertion is among the aspects of special interest. In this scope, there is a generalized consensus in the scientific community establishing that an improvement in the education level and quality of young people would reduce their unemployment rate (Moreno-Mínguez 2015). Therefore, entrepreneurship education is a necessary value in 21st-century society, as it constitutes a tool for the development and growth of the younger population (Bernal-Guerrero 2021).
This is a new theoretical approach to education proposed from a humanistic perspective. Thus, this view also contemplates the development of a series of personal and social values oriented toward the construction of life projects, enabling the construction of a true entrepreneurial identity. The aim is to bring the entrepreneurial culture and the world of business to the school and educational practice through the creation of joint learning communities, where certain personal capacities are developed among the students: self-confidence, leadership, resistance to failure, creativity, innovation, optimism, initiative, autonomy, responsibility, and personal maturity (Bernal-Guerrero and Cárdenas-Gutiérrez 2021). These capacities indicate a clear concern for entrepreneurship education understood as a project of humanizing education.
For this reason, this research addresses self-efficacy, as it positively influences the capacities of creativity, leadership, personal control, and achievement orientation. The greater the self-efficacy, the greater the creativity, the greater the leadership, and so on. Personal initiative is what is needed to set in motion the practical implication of the development of these capacities. For example, a person may be creative but may not take creative actions. To put it into practice and develop that capacity requires personal initiative.

3. Self-Efficacy and Personal Initiative

Some research associated with entrepreneurial attitudes is based on intention models and/or the theory of planned action (Krueger and Carsrud 1993; Steinmetz et al. 2016). Framed in this theory (TPB, Ajzen 1991), self-efficacy and personal initiative are antecedents of entrepreneurial intention, and in turn, self-efficacy is an antecedent of personal initiative. In this sense, self-efficacy constitutes a fundamental piece to achieving the goals, effort, and actions of an individual. If the person believes in him/herself to perform the action, he/she will persist in taking on any challenge that is presented to him/her (Newman et al. 2019). It is at this point that the initiative begins since the individual trusts himself, and this leads him to transform his ideas into something new or improve something that already exists. Thus, he adopts a proactive approach with self-initiated behaviors that help him to overcome obstacles and barriers.
Self-efficacy is a psychological construct that was defined by Bandura (1986) as the perceived capacity to face specific situations. It includes the trust in one’s own skills to organize and execute different actions that lead to reaching certain outcomes.
In the scope of education, the scientific literature asserts that self-efficacy is one of the psychological variables that best predict academic performance and success (González-Tejerina and Vieira 2021). In this way, the belief in self-efficacy represents a decisive element that exerts great influence on the perception of students toward their capacities to carry out the necessary tasks and actions that lead to the attainment of a set goal (Marshall et al. 2020; Murimbika and Urban 2020). Therefore, they influence the effort and perseverance of students to achieve their goals, fostering appropriate thought patterns and emotional reactions (Bandura 2000; Rodríguez 2023).
To evaluate their self-efficacy, students weigh the perceptions they have toward their capacities, the degree of difficulty of the task, the effort required, the external support that they may obtain, and the frequency and characteristics of previous successful or unsuccessful experiences (Schunk and DiBenedetto 2021). Students feel more competent if they have had previous experiences in which they felt capable and efficient. This repeated success causes an increase in positive evaluations about their self-efficacy. On the contrary, if students felt incapable and incompetent in previous experiences, with an accumulation of failures, their evaluations of their self-efficacy will be negative, especially if said failures cannot be attributed to external factors (Rossi and Rossi 2022).
Thus, researchers can assert that having a poor perception of self-efficacy is related to negative outcomes, which, in turn, causes an emotional response of anxiety due to the perceived inability to face different academic situations. However, students with a high perception of self-efficacy obtain better results, are capable of self-regulating their learning, and present greater motivation for learning (León et al. 2019).
It is worth mentioning that adolescence is a delicate and complex stage in which certain personal and social skills are developed and consolidated to guarantee, in some way, a healthy adaptation to the adult period (Hernández-Cano et al. 2022). If adolescents see their level of self-efficacy diminished, their capacity for action will be diminished, and they may foresee a bleak future full of threats.
Therefore, it is safe to state that self-efficacy constitutes a fundamental piece not only to reinforce the success level but also to provide greater personal well-being.
Personal initiative is considered the capacity of an individual to manage her/his life through a set of personal resources with the aim of creating satisfactory projects that improve her/his personal well-being (Herrera and Gutiérrez 2014; Montoro 2021).
According to Lisbona and Frese (2012, p. 23), personal initiative is “the behavior at work characterized by being self-initiated and proactive, as opposed to those conducts based solely on what the individual is asked to do, being persistent in the overcoming of barriers or difficulties that appear along the attainment of the objective”.
Along the same lines, Gorostiaga et al. (2018) defined the three dimensions of personal initiative: (1) Proactivity (ability to identify problems and opportunities in advance to benefit oneself and others), (2) Self-initiation (ability to initiate a certain behavior at one’s own discretion, without any other person encouraging him/her to do so) and (3) Persistence (willingness to move forward despite barriers and difficulties). These dimensions are also recognized by other authors, such as Lisbona et al. (2018). In this sense, personal initiative implies the implementation of cognitive, emotional, and volitional elements of humans (Aziz and Petrovich 2019).
In the last years, personal initiative has acquired great relevance in the organizational and educational scopes. In the labor scope, numerous studies assert that personal initiative has a positive influence on individuals, improving their employability, and on organizations, optimizing their profitability, among other variables (Brav et al. 2009; Gorostiaga et al. 2018; Mensmann and Frese 2018). In the educational scope, it becomes especially important, as it is established as a key competence for permanent learning within the European context. This competence allows students to become active agents for the improvement of their personal situation in a hostile and changing world (Ilhamsyah-Putra et al. 2020). However, despite the recent political and educational interest in developing personal initiative, the truth is that it seems that the school system does not sufficiently encourage the development of this competence in adolescent students, which hinders, to a large extent, the action of entrepreneurship (Bernal-Guerrero 2014; Ulacia et al. 2017).
Thus, the personal initiative of students can be a protective tool in the job market since it allows them to find a job or generate it on their own, which makes it essential to educate them in its development.

4. Effect of Entrepreneurship Education Programs—The “PElEO” Program

There is a direct relationship between the concern for promoting entrepreneurship in schools and the need to generate a new economic model capable of creating businesses. Moreover, entrepreneurship is fundamentally linked to the capacity to create self-employment, and it is not limited to the economic scope, but it has progressively expanded to the personal and social scopes (Azqueta 2019), extending its effect to the training of people with initiative and the capacity to cooperate. In the face of this demanding complexity, the aim is not only to promote entrepreneurship in education but also to evaluate its impact, the level of achievement attained, and the degree of reduction reached between theory and practice. However, this is not an easy task. There is a considerable distance between the political propositions of entrepreneurship education and their real impact on non-university education levels (Lackeus and Savetun 2019), although the political discourse also presents weaknesses that must be amended (Dinning 2019). This will determine the set of measures that researchers can adopt, in the different levels and scopes involved, for the most convenient promotion of the entrepreneurial culture in schools.
Recent research indicates that the development of entrepreneurial competence requires a predisposition to entrepreneurship and a favorable environment (Valdiviezo and Uttermann 2020). This predisposition, known as “entrepreneurial potential”, enables the development of skills that shape the entrepreneurial identity of the individual, considering the influence of her/his environment (Bernal-Guerrero 2022). These skills allude to the personal dimension and the attitudes of the individual (Athayde 2012; Bernal-Guerrero and Cárdenas-Gutiérrez 2017). The success of entrepreneurship education lies in the interaction of these personal and contextual factors, shaping the entrepreneurial potential.
In the Spanish context, few studies have been carried out on entrepreneurship education at the lower levels of the education system (Diego and Vega 2015), as is the case of the international situation (Fayolle 2018). Some of the research conducted reveals that secondary school students are not sufficiently trained to survive in the real economic world and perform work activities (Krpalek et al. 2018). On the other hand, there is little research about the influence of entrepreneurship education programs on students’ self-efficacy and personal initiative. In previous works, teachers recognized the difficulty of the evaluation processes in this type of program (Delpozzo and Szpunar 2022; Morselli 2019). A recent systematic review (González-Tejerina and Vieira 2021) about entrepreneurship education in primary and secondary education pointed out that the educational practices carried out in Spain remain in an incipient phase and have not been consolidated. Evidence of this can be found in the studies by Bernal-Guerrero (2014), Bernal-Guerrero and Cárdenas-Gutiérrez (2014, 2017) and Cárdenas-Gutiérrez and Montoro-Fernández (2014), which evaluate the impact on the entrepreneurial potential of the entrepreneurship programs EME (a Company in My School), EJE (Young European Enterprise) and ÍCARO. The results indicated that there was no clear effect on the entrepreneurial potential of students, so it was concluded that these programs were insufficient to adequately influence the personal indicators that help build entrepreneurial identity.
Therefore, the program “Entrepreneurial Potential Formation. Generation of an Educational Model of Entrepreneurial Identity” (PEIEO), which consists of generating and developing an educational model that contributes to configuring the entrepreneurial potential of the personal identity of students belonging to the educational stages of Compulsory Secondary Education.
The aim of this program is to develop the entrepreneurial potential of students, setting up their entrepreneurial identity. Said potential consists of four main indicators: creativity, leadership, personal control, and goal orientation. Creativity implies the ability to conceive novel ideas that allow overcoming challenges. Leadership is related to the aptitude to direct and guide others towards a common objective. Personal control encompasses the capacity to manage and regulate one’s own emotions and thoughts. Lastly, goal orientation refers to the level of motivation and dedication of a person to attain a specific objective.
The program established four general objectives and a total of 137 specific objectives distributed among the indicators. A total of 40 activities make up the program (10 per indicator), which are aimed at promoting entrepreneurial potential by developing the personal indicators of entrepreneurship. These activities are carried out through active methodologies (specifically cooperative learning, problem-based learning, project-based learning, and service learning) that guarantee student participation, which contributes to transforming ideas into practice and favors the construction of basic knowledge (knowledge, skills, and attitudes). In this way, the set of activities is intended to produce a deeper and more permanent effect on the entrepreneurial identity, promoting the development of the students’ entrepreneurial competence.
It is necessary to analyze the impact of entrepreneurship education experiences on adolescents (secondary education), with the aim of determining whether this type of entrepreneurship education program is having a positive influence on the development of self-efficacy and initiative in students.


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