This week it was announced that some of Europe's largest multinationals – including Shell, Siemens Astra Zeneca and Total – are returning to school to teach children in an effort to boost entrepreneurial skills as part of a Commission-endorsed initiative.
During the three-year initiative, 40,000 European schoolchildren between the ages of 15 and 18 across the nine countries will have the opportunity to create and manage a real enterprise, discuss globalisation and develop ventures with peers in other countries.
Volunteer businessmen-teachers to hit the classrooms
They will be taught by more than 2,000 employees from companies that are members of the European Round Table of Industrialists who will volunteer to teach the children.
The Round Table has gathered eighteen of Europe's best-known multinationals, covering a range of sectors from electronics giants such as Philips to energy companies such as GDF Suez, to provide the volunteers.
It is being run in partnership with Junior Achievement-Young Enterprise Europe, a group which promotes entrepreneurship, and European Schoolnet, a network of education ministries.
The project is designed to increase support from other businesses to get more engaged with schoolchildren, and to reinforce partnerships with education ministries across the EU to integrate similar activities within their education systems.
More business in the universities, say students
But the European Students Union today called for such voluntary involvement by business to be extended to the university sector.
Allan Päll, the ESU's secretariat co-ordinator, welcomed the move by business into schools, saying: "So long as it is done in a way that does not interfere with the authority of the teaching establishment, then this kind of thing should be promoted more often."
He added that business should also be more focused on university education, however, saying that they are also missing competencies which voluntary input from the business community could assist with.
Päll said that such voluntary teaching by business within universities could also be included within the ambit of the Erasmus scheme, the Commission's renowned student-exchange programme.
He insisted that business involvement both in schools and universities should not aim to fill holes in jobs and skills deficits in the shorter term, but should focus instead on the longer-term educational needs of the students.