it is with a high satisfaction that I am glad to present you all our last issue for this 2022, which is the 21st. This year has been an important one and we have made our best to involve you, especially considering the strict link with the European Year of Youth, considering the thread that links these issues with the main target of the Fund: our Youth.
And, I have to say it, it was great to see the involvement of different Youth Employment Fund’s direct involvement into this initiative with several activities. I am very happy and thankful for having ‘closed’ these last months in Greece – Rhodes, with the YOUTHShare Project, where also Cowork4YOUTH was present and with the Project YES! as a special guest (another YE event listed in the EYY2022 interactive Activities’ Map, a platform managed by DG EAC): we are now beyond the classic working relationship, we became Friends – as happened with the majority of the Projects – and this is, to me, one of the best ways to celebrate the end of another year together.
Not surprisingly, we decided, together, to dedicate this month’s theme – being the last 2022 issue – more directly to youth, and particularly to the importance of exchanges and of their identity, going beyond gender, religion, age, etc., while focusing on inclusion.
Maybe, in the next future, we will see real exchanges among the Funds’ beneficiaries? Of course, I am not only talking about travel exchanges, but about all the possible meanings that ‘exchange’ can have. For sure, with all the best and inspiring successes achieved also this year by the Projects, the framework of the Youth Employment Fund can be a great source.
And I believe that, now that, hopefully, no other lockdowns will come, the Projects themselves have a lot to say, a lot to tell. They are incredible containers of success stories, human stories. Why not calling them ‘special boxes’? Or, better, human boxes to be positively exchanged through their stories.
Stories… I am talking a lot about stories especially after having known the topics of the communication workshop which our FO’s communication officer participated at. As far as I understood, but how not to agree with that, the EEA & Norway Grants Family is a big one with different programmes, projects, funds; but, after all, communicative efforts can be shared regardless of the specific area of interest. So, why not talking more, in the next future, about #OurStories?
I am sure that some news about this hashtag will come to you soon.
But creating and telling stories is still a skill, a competence. Each good story needs our heart; but – as in all things – to be more compelling, one has to ‘study’ how to do it, how to promote it, how to follow at the best the concept of storytelling (such as we did with Tara last year involving the communication officers of the project directly).
It is not a surprise I am talking about skills and competences: we are at the end of 2022, the year dedicated to youth, and 2023 will be the European year of skills and competences. I think I can talk on behalf of all of you: to work with and especially for youth needs good competences. And that is why I believe this is the moment to start shaping our best stories and future skills in the interest of our common goals, the Fund’s goals.
Those concepts were highlighted during the 6th joint meeting of the European Year of Youth National Coordinators and stakeholders, I was there together with representatives of DGs, youth units and organisations, national coordinators and, in few words, the motto has been ‘be prepared!’. You could ask me ‘prepared to/for what?’. And thinking to that event I can just tell you that the meaning is ‘start thinking how to improve your competences’.
This doesn’t mean that what you did isn’t enough. I am convinced that our ‘special boxes’ are great collectors of innovative solutions, that they developed in first person. But their, our work is the link between society and policy makers: that is why we always have to ameliorate, to have better policies.
Better job policies are needed, especially after the pandemic. Just few days ago, the 20th, the international day of the rights of children and adolescents (World Children’s Day) was celebrated and I believe that we must keep starting from that to have better skills and competences. Without talking about the dangerous effects of these last years on their mental health (another topic that, sooner or later, I would like to discuss with you, maybe early next year?).
Talking about international days, another mention goes to the European Day of Persons with Disabilities. I participated at the conference of the 2022 edition, the 24th and 25th November, and these are other urging issues we (as Fund) also face. An event that brought together more than 400 policy-makers, experts and disability advocates, hearing concerns and aspirations of people with disabilities. The goal? Making sure that persons with disabilities enjoy equal rights and opportunities.
Last but not least… the 25th of November was the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women!
I just want all of us to reflect: how many young women, how many young with disabilities, how many young with mental health problems we know today? What can we do more for them?
This means also, as was underlined several times during the several meetings I mentioned, that we still have important competences to develop for a better education of our youth, for better trainings. As was said by Ioannis Malekos, from DG EAC, during the EYY National Coordinators and stakeholders meeting, there has been ‘impressive mobilisations to create new opportunities for youth, with more than 5.000 activities, with a potential outreach of more than one hundred and 50 million Europeans’.
With those numbers, I would like to thank you again because I am strongly convinced that our shared efforts lead you there, you and your Project’s activities are part of this figure.
And again, I am sure you will be an active part of the future European Year focused on skills and competences, continuing to make your youth protagonists, as we have been doing during these last moths’ country-national meetings.
Last but not least, I have been invited to represent the Funds, and therefore you all, at the European Year of Youth 2022 – EYY National Coordinators and Stakeholders meeting taking place on 5th December, and to the ‘Claim the future’ EYY Legacy conference, taking place at the European Parliament in Brussels on 6th December 2022. I am looking forward to share with each one of you the results of that meeting and, as usual, I will do my best to represent you and your successes.
I think I have expressed a lot of concepts and I want to give you the right time to ‘absorb’ them, to start together a new, impressive year. And, talking about next years, about our future, let me congratulate to the next European Youth Capital 2025. There has been, few days ago, the European Youth Capital 2025 Award Ceremony in Tirana: Lviv (Ukraine) is the selected one, while I also want to thank, on behalf of the entire Fund Operator, the National Youth Congress of Albania for having shared with us their successes and best practices these months, hopefully our Mag has been a good place for them. And while saying “arrivederci” to Tirana allow me to great next year European Youth Capital 2023, “benvenuta” Lublin. Let’s hope we will be able to shortly witness the passing of the “baton”.
I leave you with some pictures taken in Rhodes with YOUTHShare, since I hope to be invited and be able to go soon to other Projects sites.
Gian Luca Bombarda
The Fund Director
PS: make sure you attend the 4th Regional Funds Annual Seminar