youth employment – AEGEE-Europe | European Students' Forum AEGEE (Association des Etats Généraux des Etudiants de l’Europe / European Students’ Forum) is a student organisation that promotes cooperation, communication and integration amongst young people in Europe. As a non-governmental, politically independent, and non-profit organisation AEGEE is open to students and young people from all faculties and disciplines – today it counts 13 000 members, active in close to 200 university cities in 40 European countries, making it the biggest interdisciplinary student association in Europe. Wed, 15 Nov 2017 17:59:33 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.5.11 Team Blue Is in the Country of Democracy /team-blue-is-in-the-country-of-democracy/ Fri, 08 Jul 2016 09:55:43 +0000 /?p=6637 By Hanna Polischuk

After such a warm hospitality of the three Turkish cities that we visited, it was hard to leave the country so soon. However, our route was already planned, and two wonderful Greek locals were waiting for us Our first stop in this country was Athens, the city of the famous Acropolis, democracy, Agora and gods.

AEGEEans from this amazing locals organised a city tour which described us the ancient and modern Greece. The main discussion was about democracy and how it developed through history. We could feel the past when we went up to the Acropolis, the ancient citadel of a great historic significance. But we only felt like real Greeks after tasting gyros and drinking a couple of glasses of frape.

13227116_613652232115751_6734689722210336571_nWe also attended a very interesting exhibition regarding the refugee crisis, “Suspended Step Cartoons”, aimed at showing the real picture of the refugee crisis and organized by The Association of Greek Cartoonists and The District of South Aegean Islands. It had indeed a great success: the hall was full of people exploring the works of over 20 cartoonists. All those works were really touching and frustrating; they made us think and be more aware of the scale of the problem. When we interviewed one of the cartoonists, Vangelis Pavlidis, he could not hold the tears while talking about this. Here you can understand why.

Later on, we gathered together with young Greek people in the university to know what they think about the biggest current problems in their country. We divided them into three groups in order to discuss three topics: EU-Greece Relationships, Youth Unemployment and Refugee Crisis in Greece. One person per team, the moderator, stayed in the same place, while the others were moving to another group in order to have a chance to discuss all the topics.13245487_613652105449097_3672689756546245210_n

As a result, the problems highlighted in the first topic were weak Greek economy, lack of trust to the EU institutions, false image of the country, lack of unity, unbalanced social states, wrong politics and lack of the migration policies. The solutions offered consist on easy steps: learning from the mistakes, understanding the European values, improving the communication and cooperation, fostering and developing the civic education, enforcing the equality among the EU countries, and finally increasing the involvement of the citizens into the decision-making process.

As for youth unemployment, most of the problems were the same as in every European country; however, the unemployment rate in Greece is higher than in most of them. Among the main obstacles to improve the situation are scarce job opportunities, lack of communication between universities and job market, prevailing of connections above knowledge and experience, no willingness to do manual labor jobs while striving only for the ‘prestigious’ jobs, and thus, creation of undesirable supply of workforce in a single field that has no more demand. The unemployment problem exist for many years and the clue is near; there are many ways to improve the situation, but it has to be organized and fast.

The first step will be understanding the real job market’s needs and encouraging the most needed professions; then, improvement of the communication between universities and enterprises, their mutual development of the internship programs; and lastly, the development of the open-mindedness and youth entrepreneurship through the mentorship platforms.

Regarding the last topic of discussion,  the refugee crisis, lots of problems were named. Among them are war and insecurity, racism and discrimination, bureaucracy and corruption, no cooperation between nations, and no fixed political agenda. Young Greeks see the ways to deal with those problems in unity and cooperation resulting to a common policy, integration policies, simplification of the procedures, increasing support and humanitarian help, changing the current government while voting reasonably and implementing the necessary reforms throughout the EU. When there is a problem, there is always the way to solve it, and most of the solutions depend on us.13233157_613651182115856_3997036037883047431_n

After an intensive day in the capital, we departed to Patra early in the morning. The language in the train was not understandable but by the detailed explanations of Dimitris, we managed to get to the next city without any problem. At the bus station we were warmly met by the president and treasurer of AEGEE-Patra. While Ksenia and Benedetto decided to have some rest at home, the rest of the team went to open the swimming season. Even in spring the water in the Ionian sea is warm. After the refreshment and cultural night program we began the serious day. Even under the hot sun we found some young people who shared with us their opinions about the borderless Europe. 13241348_615852195229088_387481140209867202_n

We organized a parliament simulation being the main topic of discussion “Is Schengen Dead or Alive?” Everyone had a chance to express the opinion, and there were many arguments for both sides of the question. The biggest debates were about security versus refugees. From one point of view, it is important to take care about refugees and help them integrate into the Greek society. From the other one, there is a fear that terrorists can pretend to be refugees, and that letting them in will weaken the security and increase the chance of an attack.

Among the reasons to open borders were solidarity, support for the victims of the war, sharing the burden, protection of the human rights and respecting the Schengen agreement. On the contrary, the opposing team explained the necessity to close the borders mainly because of the terrorism. They suggested to enforce an European army with border guarding and intensifying passport control. We should  help people who are leaving their homes and past life behind in order to survive and protect their families without any doubt. At the same time, there is a need to cooperate among all the EU states in order to unify and improve the general security.13256100_615852255229082_6559252599137052595_n

We were actively engaged in both discussions but we let the participants speak out. In the political EU world there are similar discussions going on and on without any clear final solution nor strategy.

By what we understood, if the government does not take any actions, its people will change the rulers. We live in a time of changes and fights for democracy and human rights. Whenever you come to Greece, you feel it more than anywhere else. We are very grateful to AEGEE-Athina and AEGEE-Patra for this amazing experience and their warm hospitality. Also, we would like to thank again Interrail for this opportunity!13267791_615852268562414_4512342797948786114_n

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Inventing the jobs of the future in Brno /inventing-the-jobs-of-the-future-in-brno/ Mon, 21 Apr 2014 11:41:39 +0000 /?p=4883

Discussing the sources of unemployment and the opportunities for the new generation

iron giantIn the previous article of team blue about our stop in Prague, we discussed the curious case of Euro-scepticism and scepticism in general in the Czech Republic. The next destination of our travel was the student city Brno where we found a statue that symbolizes this interesting aspect of Czech society: an iron giant holding a cube that is standing in front of the impressive legal court. Michaela, who was our guide in the city, told us that the statue symbolizes the Czech attitude towards justice. The cube represents the truth; implying that even if you are holding the truth in your hands it still has many sides. Justice is a matter of interpretation and we have to keep a certain sceptical reservation towards it. Keeping this wisdom in mind, we challenged the students of Brno to think about and to discuss the issue of youth (un) employment. What truths could we find regarding this topic and what are the sources of scepticism?

The machines are getting our jobs!

We started our discussion in Brno by trying to answer the question: “why does unemployment exist in the first place?” Some of the participants argued that a growing number of people that attends university and an inflation of value of academic diplomas caused the rise in unemployment. While more and more people are studying for example political science and culture studies, it is unclear whether there is a job market for all those graduates. Others argued that unemployment was on the rise because of a decline of major industries in Europe, causing a huge loss of jobs. By moving our industries to Asia, we are losing jobs in our countries.

AEGEE-BrnoOne of the main points of discussion was the role of technology in the change of the labour market. This point touches upon a question that was already present during the industrial revolution: “will the machines take our jobs?” Until now, history has shown us that this fear might have been unnecessary while industrialization and mechanization has created more jobs rather then less. However, the nature of our work has changed tremendously: from a job market of farmers to a job market of factory workers; from a job market of factory workers to a job market of bureaucrats and accountants. We transformed from an agricultural to an industrial to a service economy. According to recent studies, 47% of all jobs is likely to be replaced by mechanized labour in the near future. The big question of the current age is: what is next?

The consensus amongst the group was that the job market in the future will be much more individualized and will encourage people to develop and sell their unique personal skills. In other words: the job market of the future will be one of entrepreneurs. It was interesting to hear that almost one-third of the group was seriously considering to start his or her own business. However, the current regulations and procedures in the Czech Republic where viewed as very discouraging and complicated. A question that arises from this in a European context is: how can we create an environment in Europe in which the threshold to starting a business is much lower and in which young entrepreneurs are supported in the first steps of a starting a company?

The future: creative academics versus the others?

In honour of the Czech spirit, a sceptical reply could not be absent in the discussion. Surprisingly, the president of AEGEE-Brno Ivan, who has Slowakian roots, provided this reply. He argued that, as is often the case in discussions amongst academics, solutions are almost always presented in the context of people with an academic background. If we expect all young people to be provided with challenging internships and entrepreneurial support, do we really reach the entire group of people that is hit by unemployment? Ivan argued that there is a large group of unemployed youngsters that lacks an academic or creative background and would not benefit at all from the solutions that are presented. A relevant issue to be raised is therefore how to create European solutions against unemployment for all youngsters and not only those who have the fortune of an academic background or a creative spirit.

tram BrnoYouth unemployment seems to be a very complicated matter with as many problems as it contains solutions. Its unpredictable nature seems to make it difficult to create a coherent policy that would benefit all. What will the job market of the future look like, now technology starts affecting the service sector? Young people need to discuss these issues in order to sustain a society in which most are included and find purpose in their work. Keeping this in mind, we left Brno in order to catch a train to Warsaw; the next stop of team blue. In the capital of Poland, we will discuss the opinion of the Polish people about the EU. How Europtimistic will they be?

 

 

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Road to the future or end of freedom of movement? /road-to-the-future-or-end-of-freedom-of-movement/ Thu, 17 Apr 2014 18:39:57 +0000 /?p=4704 One of the places in Europe that really breathes history is Berlin: a city of many paradoxes. It has been the mighty capital of Prussia and imperial Germany; it was burned to the ground in the Second World War and was the symbol of the Cold War, with the Berlin Wall as physical divide between East and West. Nowadays, Berlin is a multi-cultural, innovative and artistic city with many visible extremes: wealthy businessmen and countless homeless people gathering empty bottles; trendy entrepreneurs and drug addicts; artists and street workers. In Berlin, we discussed innovative ideas with NGOs and the problems of youth unemployment in Europe. These discussions provided some great insights into the troubles of the contemporary economy: creating great opportunities and at the same time great difficulties for young people.

Berlin 1

Berlin of the future: entrepreneurship and the new democracy

During our stay in Berlin, we visited four different NGOs: Citizens of Europe, Democracy International, Europe and Me and Liquid Democracy. All these organizations perfectly reflect the innovative, creative and entrepreneurial character of Berlin. They envision a Europe in which citizens participate actively in shaping its future; a democratic Europe in which the people decide what the institutions should be about; a Europe with pan-European media that foster the public debate; and a Europe in which decisions are made according to dynamic democratic procedures.

Our visit to Democracy International perfectly reflects the character of the engaged, entrepreneurial innovation that is happening right now in Berlin. We visited them in their office, which is actually a shared working environment in a renovated historical building. The atmosphere in the building is amazing and everybody working there has a mission: from creating a new beer brewing experience or developing the web design of the future to building the new European democracy. Just as most of the other organizations in the building, Democracy International brings together a (political) visionary idea, IT innovations and an entrepreneurial attitude; going beyond the past division between rigid political organizations and corporate businesses. The typical young entrepreneur in Berlin is politically engaged, is on a mission to change the world and knows how to use innovative technologies.

Berlin 4One of the aims of Democracy International is to have a European convention that is not shaped by means of intergovernmental procedures (as is the case today) but by means of real democratic involvement: a convention of the people, for the people, by the people. Their campaign consists of online presence (you can sign a petition on their website) and an online mapping of all EP candidates according to their support for a democratic convention. They hope that by involving as many people and politicians as possible, a democratic convention could be possible and the next European treaties could be decided upon by a European wide referendum instead of political deals behind closed doors.

Berlin’s dark side: unemployment and diminishing workers’ rights

Although Berlin on the one hand seems to be a source of entrepreneurship and innovation, it is at the same time a city with a high level of unemployment and poverty. How to understand this paradox? Together with AEGEE-Berlin, we had a session in the Humbold University about youth employment. We discussed the sources of unemployment and the growing problems that migrant workers face today in Europe.

Almost everybody; including politicians, scholars, students and activists, seems to agree that unemployment is a problem (we need more jobs!) but disagrees on the solutions to the problem. What is important is to try to understand the sources of the unemployment. We discussed two significant trends. The first one concerns the economical globalization, the concentration of capital and the rise of inequality. The thesis is that global capital has increasingly been concentrated during the last three decades into the hands of a smaller group of people. The wealthy few have acquired an increasingly large portion of the total amount of capital. This has created a declining significance of labour with respect to the ownership of capital and a consequent rise of inequality, poverty and unemployment.

Berlin 2The second trend we discussed concerns the rise of technology, the increasing substitution of labour by mechanized and digitalized processes. Some studies explore the idea that the probability exists that a large portion of jobs (up to 47%) is likely to be substituted by mechanized processes. A nice illustration of this point is the increasing significance of high-tech companies with a small amount of employees. While the big industries of the past employed thousands of people, current high-tech companies that dominate the economy only employ a fraction of that amount. For this reason, the question arises: will technological development eventually make us unemployed?

The discussion showed that there was no common agreement on these points. Some argued that the world market is not yet as globalized as depicted and that poverty and unemployment are actually the result of trade barriers and protective trade policies. Moreover, it was argued that the rise of technology would not affect the job market, while the first technological revolutions (like the industrial revolution) actually provided for more jobs instead of less.

Finally, we discussed a very troubling issue concerning the rights of unemployed migrants in Germany. We were confronted with a draft of a law that has been made by the German government, stating that Germany can expel citizens from other EU countries if they are unemployed. The participants were very shocked to hear about these plans. Although a lot of them agreed that it made no sense to have differences in rights for social benefits between citizens of the country and migrant workers, the idea of making people move back to their country triggered an emotional opposition. If we would allow these kinds of laws in Europe, then we would defy one of the principles of the EU itself: that European citizens are allowed to move and work freely within the union. Perhaps it is the time that organizations like AEGEE take an active stance in this matter, that we clearly show that these kinds of laws should not be part of our European community.

Bearing these lessons in mind, we left Berlin and took the train to Prague. In Prague, we will discuss the topic of Europtimism. Very interesting in this respect will be to see why the Czech people are one of the most Eurosceptic people in Europe.

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Europe on Track 2 empowers European youth to become actors in the construction of the Europe of tomorrow /europe-on-track-2-empowers-european-youth-to-become-actors-in-the-construction-of-the-europe-of-tomorrow/ Tue, 15 Apr 2014 08:17:55 +0000 /?p=4549 AEGEE-Europe launched on Wednesday 9th April the project Europe on Track 2 in the European Parliament. After presenting in the press conference, six travellers divided in two teams began their routes, crossing the European continent by train during one month, with the objective of interviewing young people from various backgrounds about their vision of Europe.

To set the context, the results and the documentary from the first edition, winner of the 2013 European Charlemagne Youth Prize, were presented to the audience. Then the project coordinators introduced the features of Europe on Track 2, which this time focuses on encouraging young people to get involved as active citizens and capture possible ways of participating in the construction of the European Project.

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“At a time when European integration is being questioned and young people’s future prospects have become hazy, in Europe on Track we want to act as a loudspeaker for the youth, bringing their opinion, their realities and their wishes to decision-makers” Réka Salamon, project coordinator.

 

The six travellers will pass by 25 cities in 16 countries, reaching the Baltics, the Balkans and Ukraine. In the local events they will discuss about mobility programmes, youth employment, the European elections, youth participations and europtimism. All the discussions and insights will be documented with videos, pictures and articles shared in the Europe on Track blog and through social media.

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In order in order to overcome the geographical and time limits, Europe on Track partners with Debating Europe who will host online debates on two of the topics: youth mobility and youth participation. “With this partnership we hope to spark online discussion that can add to the project’s results, engaging more young people and even not-so-young people from all European countries” Rocío Leza, project coordinator.

Speaker from the Youth For Public Transport presenting the concept of carbon footprint calculation

Speaker from the Youth For Public Transport presenting the concept of carbon footprint calculation

 

AEGEE also counts with the support of Interrail, who makes this ambitious project possible. Besides, our partner Youth For Public Transport supports the sustainable transport of the travellers by providing them with a carbon footprint calculator created especially for the project. “We thought that there was no better way of contributing to the project then supporting the sustainable transport of the travellers, providing them the possibility to really think about their mobility choices!”Jerome Kisielewicz, Y4PT.

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