European Youth Event 2016 #1

Emil Wojtaluk

GROUP_IN_PARLIAMENT_EDITED

On 20-21 of May 2016 representatives of the European Studies Student’s Scientific Association of the John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin, including representatives of EUROpens BLOG visited European Parliament in Strasbourg on the occasion of the European Youth Event 2016. The theme of the second edition was the exchange of experiences and proposals with European decision-makers using the motto „Together we can make a change”. Young people from Europe had an occasion to write their proposals for solving crucial problems of the European Union, or electronically – through an online application. Moreover, during numerous sessions and workshops in the EP building there was a chance to comment and propose our own solutions, which were then discussed by experts and politicians. An official EYE report containing all gathered opinions will be distributed to Members of the European Parliament and discussed in parliamentary committees this autumn. European Youth Event was accompanied by many cultural events (concerts, games etc.). The interest in EYE this year was huge, the number of all registered participants reached over 7,500 people.

All activities concerned five main themes:

  • War and Peace: Perspectives for a Peaceful Planet;
  • Apathy or Participation: Agenda for a Vibrant Democracy;
  • Exclusion or Access: Crackdown on Youth Unemployment;
  • Stagnation or Innovation: Tomorrow’s World of Work;
  • Collapse or Success: New Ways for Sustainable Europe.

IMG_6966Due to the huge interest each participant could participate in chosen activities – our group participated in those activities connected with youth unemployment and innovation. The first panel, in which we took part was entitled „Skills gap: Bridge over troubled water” and concerned a gap which exists between job qualifications of young people and the expectations of today’s labor market. The meeting had an interactive form, during which participants could have their voice on important issues. Asked „Do you think you learned sufficient skills at school or third level to prepare you for the labor market?” –  most answered, that they learned some skills but most of them was acquired in practice, by having internships or regular jobs. Special role of increasing awareness of young people towards internships and volunteering projects was also stressed, even if unpaid, they build our CV and increase our chances on the labor market – not all of us seem to be aware of that. Although, in some EU countries employers still do not understand the value of volunteering experience, but this conviction disappears very quickly and can be barely seen on the Union level. One is clear, we need to provide more information in this area, both for young people and the employers – to make students aware, that studies just for studies are the waste of time, and employers, that being a volunteer is equal the regular job experience. Among other speakers Mrs. Marianne Thyssen, European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility was present there.

In the Plenary Chamber of the European Parliament in Strasbourg (Photo: Vako Karchava)

In the Plenary Chamber of the European Parliament in Strasbourg (Photo: Vako Karchava)

Another and the most important session for us also concerned youth unemployment. It was the most important not only because of the topic but also the venue, in which all activity took place – we had an unique opportunity to sit in the plenary chamber of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, exactly on the same seats, on which Members of the European Parliament sits! The meeting was titled „Youth Unemployment: Down to zero?” – it was designed to find the solution for youth unemployment, the leading question was „how can we reduce youth unemployment to close to zero within 10 years?”. Young activists were present among experts, EU institutions were represented by Marianne Thyssen (mentioned above) and Andrey Novakov, Member of the European Parliament. We’ve started with the presentations of ideas delivered by all speakers, followed by proposals from the audience, which were later commented by the experts. However,  before the meeting started for good we were trained how the voting mechanism in the European Parliament works, having great occasion to take part in a voting simulation. The question put on voting was very clear: „whether or not European Union should give more support to young people entering the labor market?” – only a few voted “no”, pushing the red button.

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Photo: Vako Karchava

The last activity, in which we took part was named „Science or fiction: Will robots rise to power?” and was about the discussion on the future of robotics and super-computers. One of the most crucial questions raised at the very beginning was: „will robots threaten the future of humanity?”. The experts indicated, that we will always have everything under control, because it is up to people to first program those robots to work. Another interesting discussion arose on the question if robots as super-intelligent computers will take away our jobs. If we talk about workplaces implementing new technologies will certainly have an impact on disappearing of certain professions. However, as speakers indicated, technological change always entails such consequences. It doesn’t mean a catastrophe on the market. Well-known professions will be replaced by new ones, which cannot be described at the moment. The Meeting was attended by representatives of robotics companies, and among others Gianfranco Visentin, Head of Automation and Robotics Section from the European Space Agency.  

To sum up, taking part in European Youth Event 2016 was an unusual experience for us. We could observe how the European Parliament works from within, but among other things meet people from all over Europe and listen to their point of view. Surely, we learnt many new things. Coming to Strasburg made us even more aware, that working in EU institutions is not a fantasy, as some of you may imagine. It is certainly worth studying European Studies for acquiring such precious experiences!

We would like to thank Vice Rectors of the John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin: Professor Urszula Paprocka-Piotrowska and Professor Krzysztof Narecki, without whom it wouldn’t be possible to achieve.

This coverage is also available in Polish on the website of our Scientific Association: http://www.kul.pl/european-youth-event-2016-relacja,art_68086.html

See the full photo gallery HERE – photos by Vako Karchava.

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European Youth Guarantee – a solution to counter youth unemployment?

Emil Wojtaluk

The European Youth Guarantee has been launched in April 2013. EU member states committed themselves to ensure the implementation of the program by facilitating young people’s successful transition into work. Is it working? Let’s find out…

 

Source: newslettereuropean.eu

Source: newslettereuropean.eu

How does it work…

The idea behind launching this program was to ensure that ALL young people under the age of 25 would get an appropriate offer within 4 months from ending formal education or becoming unemployed (no matter if registered with employment services or not). An offer, mentioned above should be for a job, apprenticeship, traineeship or for continued education, taking into account individual needs.

It all started with creating Youth Guarantee Implementation Plans, made by each EU country in 2014. Then the pilot programs were launched from December 2014 to June 2015 in Finland, Latvia, Portugal and Romania – which aimed to disseminate information about the Youth Guarantee, first by properly addressing the target group. One of the main principles is to create strong cooperation between all stakeholders, which are inter alia: public authorities, career guidance providers, education and training institutions, employers etc. To improve the number of quality offers the European Alliance for Apprenticeship (EAfA) helps to facilitate the implementation of the program by bringing together EU institutions, countries and regions, companies etc. EU member states are able to check each other how the program is implemented in their countries by using Mutual Learning Programme of the European Commission. Other pilot programs were also created in the early stage in 2013, with the participation of Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Spain and the United Kingdom running for one year in each country – aimed at developing partnership, support the labor market integration and promoting the scope of actions.

Registration process for the Youth Guarantee in 3 steps:

  • Registration
  • Meeting your own advisor
  • Getting quality offer (of job, apprenticeship, traineeship or education)

First successes

Source: emprendedorescreativos.com

Source: emprendedorescreativos.com

Number of countries enacted specific laws to improve quality of education and learning. Here are some of them: France created a new law on lifelong learning and VET (vocational education and training); in Portugal VET centers started to function for basic (age 14) and secondary (age 15-17) students etc. As for “school-to-work transitions” Poland has focused on the outreach to unregistered young people, providing vocational counseling and among other things activation tools like vouchers and start-up loans (for those who wish to set up their own economic activity).

 

Funding

The Youth Guarantee is funded from the well-known European Social Fund with the support of Youth Employment Initiative (which amounts to 6 bln euro). €12.7 billion is directed to labor market integration of young people, €11 billion from ESF to modernize employment services and promoting self-employment. Finally, €26 billion is planned to be spent on education measures (lifelong learning).

To conclude…

From the perspective of Polish citizen I have to admit that I was not familiar with Youth Guarantee before I did my research at the official websites of the European Union. Dissemination of the project seems to lack a lot, at least in my own country. Neither public authorities at local level nor the government have implemented appropriate measures to raise the awareness of the project among young people. More specific measures should be used – like meetings with high school or university students and also launching a country-wide media campaign. I am afraid that if it is not done, chances for most of our young citizens to benefit from Youth Guarantee will be low since many of them simply have not heard about it!

To find more information on Youth Guarantee please visit the official website of the program (including directions to national coordinators available in each EU member state):

http://ec.europa.eu/social/main.jsp?catId=1079&langId=en