YOUTH TOK AIM, RATIONALE AND COURSE OF ACTIONS
Held in December 2022, the 4th Regional Funds Annual Thematic Seminar for project representatives focused primarily on youth issues as our part of celebrating the European Year of Youth. We wanted to hear their voices and opinions. The aim of the YouthTOK was simple and revolutionary – let’s give the platform to the youth and see what happens! We gathered NEET beneficiaries and youth workers contributing to NEET projects to share their experiences. Instead of following rigorous and robust research protocols, we started a discussion with those most affected by the turbulent labour market environment. We asked them to set questions – what do you need from projects? What are your daily obstacles/concerns? What was working for you, and what was not? What are the issues that have not yet been recognised and addressed? What could we do for you?
The youth participated in the online preparatory workshops, introducing them to analysing their project’s experiences, strengths and weaknesses. All participants independently prepared the detailed SWOT analysis, trying to evaluate their project experiences not only from their perspective but also from other participants, projects’ limitations. They were insightful, critical and savvy!
Finally, D-day arrived, and participants met in person during the workshop in Brussels. We further discussed their reflections from the SWOT analysis and the additional essays they prepared as homework. We identified seven main areas of their key concerns, such as mental health in the labour market, skills mitch-match or particular needs of youth with a refugee background or with disability experiences.
They were thirsty for discussion, critical and mindful of obstacles to their labour market participation and proactive in suggesting solutions on what could be improved. They battled and argued, compared their experiences and asked themselves – is that reflection unique only to my experience? Or is it an issue other youths across the countries have in common?
They spent hours discussing “it”, the core of what we wanted to hear from them – what bothers youth in the labour market? They talked about undeclared work, little awareness about workers’ rights, starting their careers as chefs, yoga instructors, individual contractors, researchers, and other topics and issues. They identified seven key issues: mental health, work-life& care balance, starting a business, skills mitch-match in the labour market, entry into the “real” labour market, youth with specific needs and the desired approach to designing youth-centred solutions.
There were so many things that they wanted to vocalise in these areas, but they needed to be brief and specific. Participants were very conscious of the agenda limitations and wanted to be sharp and on the point! In the end, participants presented their elaborate, 7-points YouthTOK agenda, sharing their opinions and personal stories. We are proud to present the heroes, their stories and their agenda!
Consultant & Facilitator, Fund Operator
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