Director’s Editorial – September 2022 Issue

Dear Friends,

I hope you all enjoyed summer holidays, needed to ‘re-charge’ before tackling what future will bring us.

Autumn has come and, along with it, some new important challenges. Challenges that perfectly fit with our ‘topic of the month’, as we are talking about youth involvement into the climate crisis.

Before directly referring to our youth, and therefore to all the ‘protagonists’ of our recent Special (since our goal now is to continue involving them, in practical activities), is that it actually looks like that this period, interlinking different challenges, can be, indeed, called ‘crisis’. And, as you know me, since I have been introducing the YE and RC for a while now, I do not like, and do not want, to be pessimistic, or to talk about the ‘negative aspects’ of this reflection.

However, as you also noticed, tv, newspapers, news alerts etc., seem they are all talking only about it. We have climate crisis, energy crisis, gas crisis, and these are all related matters. But, we have also education crisis, intergenerational crisis, psychological crisis…..

As we say here, by translating an Italian old saying: ‘the more we say, the more we can add.’

Indeed, I am sure that if I ask to all of you, you could add another ‘crisis’. Don’t you agree?

Scrolling news, as I always do, I found, for example, the reflections made after the UN ‘transforming education’ summit, held very recently in New York on the 16th, 17thand 19thSeptember. A Summit held to find ‘responses to a global crisis in education – one of equity and inclusion, quality and relevance.’ And continuing on reading:‘Transforming education, building our future’. It seems, to me, to remember words and concepts we, as Fund, are using every day. A sort of ‘mantra’ we all follow to keep up with the upcoming challenges.

It’s clear that we have, instead of education (but also relating to it), youth. Our path is dedicated to youth and their empowerment. And so, what if we change some words like that?

‘Transforming youth empowerment methods, transforming youth policies, building our future’: It seems more or less the same, isn’t it? 🙂

This short game with words was intended just to express the following idea I have in mind: you can talk about any crisis, any new challenge, any problem or, considering our Mag, any ‘topic of the month’, but the result is always the same: young generations are always there. All the solutions we try to find, they are for youth. All the paths we try to construct, they are intended to be made for youth. Because youth is the future. And, if there is anyone here not convinced of that, I am ready to listen, to understand how to further analyse what we all are doing wrongly.

That is why I am very happy to see, and to read, the numerous contributions coming from the Projects about ‘Greening Youth: The role of Youth in the context of climate emergency’. Scrolling our Mag, you will see not only strong pictures and paragraphs, but real and concrete examples of this ‘involvement’. An involvement which has not necessarily anything to do with the ‘Fridays for Future’. Well, the topics involved are the same, while, here, I see and note a different approach: I read reflections, best practices, think thanks experiences, advices on how to react. For sure, we share with the Global Strike of the ‘Fridays for Future’ the ‘mantra’: There is no planet B.

Our Tom seems to be in agreement with me, as usual, or better with my speech about ‘words’: «Words give life to ideas. Words are singularly the most powerful force available to humanity. Words are the precursors of actions». And then, after reporting well-known persons’ words (even Greta Thunberg J), he is talking about some actions, real actions, which should follow words.

We have already several great examples, coming from our Projects – I am very curious to see the YOUTHShare Documentary on NEETs, and to join the online event that YES! organised for the 11th of October (you will find below the details) within the framework of the European Week of Regions and Cities! -, but also, from some of our Friends – such as the Tiranaones, being it the European Youth Capital for this 2022: they celebrated as well the 12thof August and share with us some of their results. Not forgetting, as usual, the engagement of FMO in dealing everyday with the search of solutions, sometimes thanks to the constructions of solid dialogues shared with organisations, institutions and entities that are on the same path (and the interviewyou will read is about that).

Last but not least, since we have always been ‘open’ to parallel activities and since we are still into the European Year of Youth – which we want to close together with you all – I see with pleasure that there are a lot of institutions, organisations, entities and people committed to that. This morning I woke up and stopped for a moment the finalisation of our Mag, since I wanted to participate to the European conference of the Berlin Senate Department for Integration, Labour and Social Services “Empowering young people through decent work and VET – The European Year of Youth 2022 in times of transformation and crisis“. What I heard is that the concept ‘Youth Employment’ is a broad one. An area full of challenges, but with the same questions shared by all of us: How can we create a future without fears and anxieties, how can we empower young people? How can we provide good and decent education, vocational training and then a decent work in Europe? How can we improve cooperation?

Aren’t those questions the same we also share into the framework of the Regional Funds?
I think we can all agree. And guess what: they also talked about climate crisis impacting on youth (un)employment in the next future.

I listened with pleasure the speech of Dr. Nicolas Schmit, EU Commissioner for Employment and Social Rights. The question: «What prospects do young people have in times of transformation and crisis? ». What he said, and I agree, is that we need a starting point against the background of the pandemic, which was felt particularly in terms of psychological and social aspects by youth. «The world has become more difficult for a lot of people. Think for example to university students and trainees, who already have to leave on short budgets: arising costs of leaving make it even harder. The turning point to the adult life is an important factor», he said, before remembering that unemployment in the EU declined to 6 % in June 2022 and so far, this is still a good news; youth unemployment compared to previous months is also low but the situation continues to be difficult into the labour market: youth unemployment rate in Europe is still 14%, greater than the general unemployment rate. So more than 8.6 million young people are unemployed or not in training position.

«This is particularly worrying: it is not possible that 8.6 million people are left alone in the dark. Therefore, we need initiatives in order to enable these young people to get back into societies, into the labour market. During the pandemic a lot of young people had to interrupt their education or work. Think about a 30 years person: the economic crisis, then the Covid crisis, now they witness another crisis brought by war in Ukraine». How not to agree with him?

My idea? We don’t need a ‘lost generation’.

We are not talking only about crisis but major transformations and transitions. We need then to manage these transformations with new jobs and competencies.

«We have to strengthen the Youth Guarantee. And this is a commitment to be followed.

Funds are also important to support young people, to enter the labour market and to give them high quality jobs. We have to stop precarious job where they do not see any future.

Individual needs are sometimes hard to read: we must provide alternatives in due times. This approach must be further continued particularly after Covid, this crisis must lead to a stronger implementation of the Youth Guarantee and to more funding», he continued, also recalling that in Europe there is also Alma, a cross border youth mobility programme, but also Erasmus + (this year is the 35th anniversary) that enabled more then 10millions young Europeans to study abroad. We want to do even more.

In any case, this takes to vocational training, to the need to motivate young people.

And guess … 2023 should be the European Year of Skills, of Competencies: maybe not directly related to youth but for sure they are involved. This means we must work even harder and invest more in educational training and into cooperation.

We have a generation of young people that speaks up, luckily. Think about the climate crisis. They have a strong voice. They demand a labour market which is meaningful. That is not an alternative. We need to create jobs which need purposes, which are meaningful.

Year of skills and competences? Ok. So, this means that young people deserved skilled jobs. And we should continue to be there for that.

Finally, the statement that struck me the most, when the conference was presented, was this: «We are going to talk to them, they are here to talk with us directly».

This is, to me, the same spirit we want to follow.

It is clear, to me, that youth voice is the one to be heard and it is what we are trying to do for our Annual Seminar. We know that for some unforeseen we had to postpone twice. But the important, in that occasion, will be to collect those voices. And to create some real, concrete and effective actions.

Our goal, for this Annual Seminar, is to ‘use words, to go beyond words’.

I cannot, today, anticipate you more about the meaning of this concept. But I hope that you will soon participate concretely to that just started process.

So… stay tuned!

Gian Luca Bombarda
The Fund Director



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