“This conference will take us to the next step forward to boost youth entrepreneurial spirit in our regions and be ready for the future”Rikardo Lamadrid, Technology and Advanced Learning Director at the Basque Country’s Regional Ministry for Education
On Wednesday (June 27), EARLALL’s Working Group on Youth Policies, together with Giovanisì‑Regione Toscana and the Tuscany Region’s Liaison Office in Brussels, organised a conference in the heart of the European Union to exchange regional best practices about youth entrepreneurship and discuss the next steps forward in the promotion of entrepreneurial competences at regional level. The event counted on the participation of representatives of the European Commission, the European Parliament, and regional and local authorities, and was divided in three panel sessions.
The day started with the welcome remarks of Chiara Criscuoli, Head of Giovanisì, who warned that the target group of the YES initiative comprises people until 40 years old in Tuscany, and remarked that the topic of youth entrepreneurship has been tackled by Giovanisì for more than seven years now. The region’s Minister for Education and Training, Cristina Grieco, stated that “entrepreneurial spirit is one of the competences that we must help our young people acquire, not only because of the importance of fostering youth entrepreneurship, but also because, in a fast changing labour market […], the ability to identify opportunities and take advantage of them becomes of utmost importance.”
The session continued with the intervention of Cinza Masina, Deputy Head of Unit at DG EMPL, who explained the future ESF+, focusing on the horizontal principles regarding gender, equality of opportunities, and non-discrimination. She also highlighted the role of the European Pillar of Social Rights as a “shooting star” to guide all the process. For his part, MEP Brando Benifei called for more investment and quality of offers for youth employment in light of the Pillar, and anticipated a long debate for the approval of next Multiannual Financial Framework.
Lastly, Rikardo Lamadrid, Technology and Advanced Learning Director at the Regional Ministry for Education, welcomed the participants on behalf of EARLALL and the Basque Country, and stated the need of promoting youth entrepreneurship, “not only in economic terms, but also with a lifelong and lifewide learning perspective.”
The first panel of the day featured interventions by representatives of Tuscany (Italy), Baden-Württemberg (Germany) and Hauts de France (France). The speakers presented their regional initiatives regarding school-to-work transition, the need to invest in teachers, awareness raising among young people, entrepreneurial training at school, and assessment tools. They all agreed on the need to involve all stakeholders — namely businesses — in the process, and to develop effective funding tools.
During the second panel, Tuscany, the Basque Country and the Autonomous Province of Trento introduced their systems for supporting the creation of enterprises by young people. Tuscany’s focus on fostering co-working as a pilot initiative within Giovanisì has allowed the region to develop a successful programme for the promotion of youth entrepreneurship. On their side, Tknika — the Basque Country’s centre for VET innovation and research — highlighted the importance of teacher training (“there would not be entrepreneurial students without entrepreneurial teachers […]. Teachers are the key factor for change”). Lastly, Trento introduced their focus on coaching and information, taking into account the needs of the different generations involved in the process.
The last panel of the day served as a window for successful regional initiatives. It featured StartNet, a project coordinated by the Goethe Institut and Fondazione Mercator to support school-to-labour transition in Puglia and Basilicata (Italy); Västra Götaland’s programme for preventing school dropout; and the “Coaching You” project in the Lleida province (Catalonia, Spain).
EARLALL’s Working Group on Youth Policies will keep on discussing the topic during next year. As announced by Paolo Baldi, Director for Education and Training at the Tuscany Region, a new conference will take place in 2019 to monitor the progress of the YES initiative, especially taking into account the new financial perspectives and the development of the future ESF+.