Bucovina Institute, Lead Partner within the 058 – Supporting Employment Platform through Apprenticeship Learning, organized the SEPAL Project Final Conference on the 20th of October 2021 in Gura Humorului, Suceava, Romania.
The SEPAL Project period of implementation was between October 2018 and September 2021, being funded by Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway through the EEA and Norway Grants Fund for Youth Employment, and implemented by Bucovina Institute in partnership with four other European organizations: Pere Closa (Spain), ZISPB (Lithuania), KoiSPE “Diadromes” (Greece) and Collegium Balticum (Poland).
On this occasion, at the end of the three years of implementation of the project, Bucovina Institute Association hosted a large event, which was attended by over 100 people from 15 countries in Europe (Austria, Bulgaria, Belgium, France, Greece, Germany, Italy, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Republic of Moldova, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, United Kingdom), including online, through the Zoom platform, focusing on NEETs on the labor market through apprenticeship stages and employment support services.
Among the participants, we can mention the partners within the SEPAL project, representatives of the EEA and Norway Grants Fund for Youth Employment, local, regional, national and European authorities, NEETs, members of Social Firms Europe CEFEC, Erasmus+ project partners, volunteers and long-term collaborators.
In the opening of the event, Petru-Vasile Gafiuc, the president of the association and also the project manager, together with Valentina-Alina Adomnicăi, coordinator of the communication department, opened the conference, addressing a few words to the participants, presenting the event agenda and guests.
Concerning the local and regional authorities, we enjoyed the presence of the mayor of the host city, Gura Humorului (Suceava, Romania), Marius Ursaciuc, of the subprefect of the Institution of the Suceava County’s Prefect, Daniel Prorociuc, as well as of the Angela Zarojanu, councilor at Suceava City Hall, who received the participants with welcome messages, emphasizing, at the same time, the importance of organizing such events.
Four representatives from the EEA and Norway Grants Fund for Youth Employment, namely Grethe Haugøy, Gian Luca Bombarda, Małgorzata Nowak and Katarzyna Kacprzak joined the Final Conference online, having a short intervention and marking the main steps of the collaboration with beneficiary organizations and congratulating the hosts for achieving the objectives and for the results obtained during the three years.
One of the results of the SEPAL project is the research conducted by Claudiu Ivan, Romanian sociologist, with the support of the partners from the five European organizations, being presented during the final conference, along with several recommendations and conclusions on supporting young NEETs by offering employment support services in each of the five countries.
On behalf of the European Commission, through the Zoom platform, Kjerstin Torpmann-Hagen, national expert in the Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion (DG EMPL), emphasized the role of the European Alliance for Apprenticeships, while Guillem Salvans, Senior Project Development Manager at the Berteslmann Foundation in Spain, discussed the main challenges of the apprenticeships at European level.
A particularly important intervention during the conference was that of the Secretary of State from the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection – Peter Makkai, who spoke about the possibility of developing on-the-job learning programs in social economy structures for people with disabilities.
FONSS (Federation of Non-Governmental Organizations for Social Services), one of the association’s collaborators, which supported the smooth running of the SEPAL project, was represented by Diana Chiriacescu, national director, who, in her speech, emphasized the role of social service providers in inclusion of young NEETs in the labor market.
Among the online interventions was Mirela Adomnicai, a member of the Chamber of Deputies of the Romanian Parliament, who was involved from the beginning in the SEPAL project, participating with interest in the events of the association, offered to the participants recommendations concerning the support of the apprenticeships and learning on the job stages.
Cerasela Bănică, president of CADO – Center for Advocacy and Human Rights, partner in numerous projects carried out by the Bucovina Institute, spoke about the employability of Roma NEETs, one of the target groups of the project, implicitly about the challenges they face in this regard.
Felicitas Kresimon, president of Social Firms Europe CEFEC, the European network in which the Bucovina Institute Association holds the secretariat, presented the role of social enterprises in the development of apprenticeships at work, and Anne Perrault, France’s representative in the Erasmus + M-Learn project, a model of partnership regarding the mentoring for social change and lifelong learning.
During our Final Conference, we had the chance to show to our participants our results in each country, namely the supported NEETs, including success stories from each partner country, but also the challenges that we faced during three years of implementation. Our team became stronger day by day, and we keep working to support the employment of young vulnerable NEETs even if in this project we take the final steps!