Orléans, Centre (F), 19th April 2011
The overall assessment is bad: the unemployment rate of Young Europeans reached a record highpoint of 21% on average, this figure even attaining 45% in Spain! In order to contain this flail, the Assembly of European Regions (AER) mobilised its member regions and its Youth Regional Network (YRN) during a conference on youth professional mobility.
Indeed, one of the recurring answers put forward by its members as a tool to help fight youth unemployment is youth mobility. The latter is not only essential to facilitate integration on the job market but also to enable cultural and linguistic exchanges, and thereby open minds. Many programmes already exist, however certain limitations, such as a lack of information and knowledge among companies as well as administrative and legal barriers, hinder their optimal use. Participants at the conference underlined the need to progress in the areas of linguistic and educational preparation, and to set up appropriate evaluation methods. In this context, the audience praised AER’s Eurodyssey programme for its efficiency and its simple framework.
Regions can promote all European programs in this field, and even propose their own initiatives to their young citizens. Karine Gloanec Maurin, Chairwoman of AER’s sub-committee on ‘Education and Training’ and Vice-President of the Centre Region, presented the “Trans’Europe Centre” project, which offers college students in the region the opportunity to visit another European country for at least 5 days. This initiative, which has already been used by two-thirds of the region’s high schools, allows teenagers to experience the European dimension on a new level and constitutes a unique opportunity for their future. The region’s budget for this project amounts to 2 million euros per year.
Hande Özsan Bozatli, President of the AER’s Committee on ‘Culture, Education, Youth and International Cooperation’ underlined the fact that “the increased exchanges between youth and the regional stakeholders is a prerequisite of the territories’ future, but also for Europe as a whole”. The President of the Region Centre, François Bonneau, has undertaken steps in this direction and announced the creation of a Youth Regional Conference in his region: “This authority, composed of 72 members aged between 15 and 25, will be a platform for exchange and dialogue; its members will be a proactive source of proposals, they will formulate suggestions concerning existing or future regional public policies, in underlining the priorities and the expectations of young people in the region”. The members of this new regional network will be invited to take part in AER’s Youth Regional Network (YRN).
AER has invested itself in another project in favour of youth employment: project YES – Youth Entrepreneurship Strategies – aims at promoting entrepreneurship within the educational system. Entrepreneurship is not traditionally considered as an obvious career option – 60% of European citizens state that they have never considered setting up their own business (Eurobarometer survey, 2007). AER has therefore decided to cooperate with seven other partners in order to improve regional policies in the field of entrepreneurial education. Creativity, responsibility, risk taking and team work are the key words of the entrepreneurial spirit, and the regions have to help the training organisations in all their forms to include them in their priorities. YES’s objective is to develop a concrete set of tools specifically for European regions, as well as a guide of best practices and common obstacles.
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