Guest article by Ioana Petrescu, YO! Mag correspondent for YO! Fest and the European Youth Event.
In a continuously changing world, communication seems to be ever more important. It is in this context that the European Parliament, together with the Youth Forum, is organising the second edition of the European Youth Event in Strasbourg, where young people will have the chance to meet and discuss relevant topics regarding the European Union. What is most interesting is the fact that they will be making the voice of their generation heard. At the same time, participants will have the opportunity to be involved in YO!Fest, the biggest annual political youth-led festival.
Given the importance of these two events, we want you to be kept in the loop. To this end, Salome Modebadze and I will make sure to present you with all the information we can get our hands on, either by interviewing participants or attending events.
On the 20th and the 21st of May, 7,500 young people will be expected in Strasbourg. This is more than a gathering- it is the moment when young people with different backgrounds and perspectives come together and try to develop solutions to improve society. And what is even more interesting, at least for me, is the fact that the themes relate to issues that our entire community has to face, from the refugee crisis, to the problems young people face when they enter the job market, and also entrepreneurship, innovation and health and well-being. These are all issues which need to be addressed- what better way to look for solutions than by asking for opinions from the people who will be affected by them long term?
At first glance, this all might seem highly political and not easily accessible. But I think that this format actually makes these issues more accessible. As an EU citizen, I’m happy to see that the institutions are coming out of the bubble and trying to obtain input directly from their citizens.
All of the meetings and workshops will be organised under the umbrella of the six themes: war and peace, apathy or participation, exclusion or access, stagnation or innovation, collapse or success, and health and well-being.
Because there are a lot of issues to be tackled, both Salome and I, as YO!Mag correspondents, will be mingling around and doing our best to give you a good, reliable perspective of the event. We will be covering different aspects, and my focus will be on the issues of career development, employment, innovation, participation and migration. I will be participating in meetings related to these subjects, and I must say, I am quite keen to see what solutions will be suggested.
On Saturday, during the activity called ‘The Route to Safety and Success’, participants will have the chance to go through a simulation game of the refugee crisis. The situation has been covered intensely by the media, with media channels variously for or against the solutions proposed thusfar, and since the recent measures taken by EU and Turkey, focus is back on the issue. In their idea creation process, young people should take into consideration multiple facts: in essence, these are people that came to Europeans for support, their knowledge about our culture comes from what they have heard from others, heard in the media, or read on the Internet, and there is therefore the potential for culture shock. Many of us are not that familiar with their cultures, either. Decision makers were put under pressure, and the refugees that are now in Europe, or who will get asylum, will need to be integrated in our society and on the labour market. The questions can vary from; what is the most efficient way of communication, to; how can we find a common denominator for Europeans and refugees, and from; what are the steps for a long time integration, to; how can the conflicts be stopped?
Career Development and Employment
With a high youth unemployment rate in many European countries and an increasingly demanding labour market, the issues surrounding career development become frequent conversation topics among young people. Nowadays, it is becoming more important to have the right personal skills, combined with technical knowledge and creativity, and the mix that is asked for is different for almost every job. Is a job hunt impossible and you can only manage if you are lucky or have the right acquaintances? Or are job opportunities available only for those that who the chance and the money to attend good educational institutions? What skills should a young person looking for a job have? These are all subjects which will be hot topics in the ”stagnation and innovation” and “exclusion or access” hubs.
Another focus will be upon the European mobility programmes and youth organisations. I have been a participant in all three main programmes, Erasmus+ study mobility, the European Voluntary Service and Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs, and I am still involved in a youth organisation. One can learn something from all of these; be it how to manage by yourself in another country, how to work in a different environment, or even how to express yourself in another language. This all becomes helpful in one way or another, but we should think about the possibility of making these programmes more known and available and making potential employers aware of the benefits they bring. All of these subjects will be further discussed and I can’t wait to hear people’s ideas.
The last theme I will be looking into is related to innovation. Working in startups, I became aware of the development of hubs, incubators, and competitions that are open to international participants and through which innovative products/services are brought to life. The fact that always manages to catch my attention is that now, when developing companies, people also try to tackle social problems, and they are constantly developing their network for co-operative work. Plus, importantly, start-ups create jobs in a dynamic and innovative environment. Young entrepreneurs and representatives from organisations dealing with the project that have direct insights have been invited as speakers.
Instead of A Conclusion
It looks like these two days will be quite full, especially since next to all these themes there will more than enough cultural and artistic activities. But in the end, I do think it will be more than a meeting, but also a big learning opportunity, even for people who will not attend EYE2016 in person.