A practice firm (also known as a practice enterprise, or virtual company) is a simulated company that is run like a real business, simulating a normal company's business procedures, products and services, and resembles a real company in its form, organization and function. Practice firms trade with each other in a virtual market; their actions are however legally void. Practice firms are organised nationally and internationally, and take part in trade fairs for practice firms. There are around 5000 practice firms in Europe, and at least 2500 outside Europe. Practice firms are often supported by government programs, and usually aim to provide vocational training over a period of around six months, without providing certificates of achievement. Virtual capital, as well as virtual government services, taxes and regulatory organisations, are provided by the network to which the practice firm belongs.
Practice firms provide a means for unemployed people to upgrade their skills, widen their network of contacts, and maintain the dignity associated with the appearance of gainful employment. A practice firm is organised and operated by trainees, with a facilitator acting as a coach. Practice firms are also often supported by "mentor companies" who provide guidance and technical information.
Although European students already exchanged business letters as part of their education in 1920, the first complete German practice firm was founded in 1954. The oldest practice firm that is still active today was founded in 1960.
- Business simulation
- Psychological aspects:
- Long-term unemployment and structural unemployment
- "About Practice Enterprises". EUROPEN-PEN International. Retrieved 30 May 2015.
- "What is a practice firm?". Canadian Practice Firms Network. Retrieved 30 May 2015.
- Alderman, Liz (29 May 2015). "In Europe, Fake Jobs Can Have Real Benefits". The New York Times - International Business (The New York Times company). Retrieved 30 May 2015.
- "50th International Practice Enterprise Trade Fair". German practice enterprise network. Retrieved 31 May 2015.
- Discussion Paper No. 07-009, Long-Run Effects of Training Programs for the Unemployed in East Germany, Bernd Fitzenberger and Robert Völter, Centre for European Economic Research.
- "Deutscher Übungsfirmenring Leistungsspektrum" (PDF) (in German). (German practice firm network service brocure)
- "What is a practice enterprise". Europe-PEN-International. Retrieved 30 May 2015.
- "Was ist eine Übungsfirma?". Deutscher Übungsfirmenring (in German). Retrieved 31 May 2015.