On the 12th of October of 2022, within the European Week of Regions and Cities, EfVET organised an online workshop on “Raising empowerment and inclusion among youth at regional and local level” together with the European Association of Regional & Local Authorities for Lifelong Learning (EARLALL).
The workshop, moderated by Iñigo Araiztegui (TKNIKA), started with a presentation given by Jasna Maric Krajacic (European Commission, DG-EAC), focused on “Empowering young people in times of COVID-19”. First, she referred to youth participation from two dimensions: 1) as youth voice and involvement decision making, and 2) as civic action and youth activism. She also highlighted the EU Youth Dialogue initiative, which consists of a mechanism to develop dialogue between young people and decision makers, that aims at ensuring the opinion, views and needs of young people and youth organisations are considered when making EU policies on youth. Since 2010, 9 work cycles (of 18 months each) have been organised, covering diverse themes, such as youth employment, sustainability and inclusion, or youth autonomy.
Following this first intervention, Irene Psifidou and Ralph Hippe (CEDEFOP) explained “Cedefop’s contribution to supporting young people through inclusive and quality VET”. The intervention started by describing how Cedefop contributed to support the four objectives of the European Year of Youth 2022. She addressed the importance of working for the younger generations and presented some examples of their work. Moreover, they highlighted some guidelines to be considered when creating policies and tools for young people in Europe.
The last presentation was by Audrey Frith (Eurodesk), who spoke about “Overcoming new barriers to mobility, the role of youth information”. One of the aims of Eurodesk is to raise awareness among young people on mobility opportunities to encourage them to become active citizens. As she explained, learning mobility has a huge impact but access to these programmes is unequal. Therefore, Eurodesk has a crucial role in providing information to all young people. For that purpose, different tools and activities carried out by Eurodesk were presented.
The second part of the workshop consisted of sharing three good practices. The first example was presented by Bernard Dika (Regional Government of Tuscany), who showcased an initiative called “Giovanisì”. This is a project promoted by the region of Tuscany (Italy), to help young people become independent. The Giovanisì project has more than 440.000 beneficiaries, and it was highlighted that it was born to give everyone a chance, without judging. He highlighted some crucial ideas, such as the need to let young people participate in society and policymaking. In fact, one of the the project’s purpose is that “we don’t have to listen to young people but get them sit by our side and write policies that affect them, with them”.
The second best practice was “NEETs for NEETs: how to improve inclusive methos to empower young adults” by Jonas Abrahamsoon (Region Västra Götaland), who presented this project aimed at improving inclusive methods to empower young adults and, overall, the conditions of NEETs. The NEETs for NEETs project will gather adult educators together to co-create and design trainings with and for the NEETs.
The last participation of the workshop was for Kornel Döri, a student of Psychology and Neuroscience at Maastricht University, who showcased the results of a study carried out regarding the changes in young people’s mental health after COVID-19. This study, conducted at his university, came up after the several challenges that the lockdown of the pandemic brought to our lives. Kornel explained the initial expectations for the study, as well as the methodology, and the results of it, which were compared to a study done in 2021 during lockdown. Some of the suggestions explained based on the results were the need to reduce stigmas around mental health, the importance of universities and educational centres providing the necessary services for students in need, and how teachers should be able to identify mental health issues on their students.
It was a very successful workshop with over 25 participants, were very enriching and insightful ideas and examples were shared, all of them focusing on the same objective: raising empowerment and inclusion among the youth. Our present, and future.