On the 18th of November, YouthProAktiv presented the concerns of European youth about unemployment and the economic crisis to the European Parliament. The presentation was part of the panel on “Youth Unemployment and Youth Guarantee” chaired by the Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Arne Gericke with the presence of the newly-designated Commissioner of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, Tibor Navracsics, among other distinguished speakers.
“There is a need for policy-making strategies that create a welcoming environment for entrepreneurship as well as policies that make educational reform possible. But of course, we need to combine this with grassroots work in order to create a proactive culture of empowered individuals” said Paloma Cantero, Chief Executive Officer of YouthProAktiv. “With a 22.2% of youth unemployment rate in the European Union, we can easily state that unemployment is still a structural problem. In order to eradicate it, we need long-term solutions through a European mentality change – so that young people become job-creators, not just job-seekers”.
Priorities for change: Education and Support for Entrepreneurship
Two main areas of work were identified as priorities for the achievement of this long-term solution. Firstly, Europe needs a reform of its outmoded, reactive educational system. Schools and universities continue to produce standardized individuals with standardized sets of skills. In contrast, today’s labour market requires both qualified and versatile citizens.
“In the 21st century, the labour market needs unique, creative and innovative individuals educated to think ‘outside the box’, who are able to imagine and pursue new horizons,” explained Ms. Cantero. “Our schools and universities lack a holistic, proactive approach to the education of individuals. We are educated for specific professions with no regard for creativity or problem-solving, not to mention entrepreneurship. Our identities are then defined by the specific positions we hold in the labour market – that is, we are our jobs. And this is a big problem because we are human beings, not just workers. If we don’t know how to be successful as persons, we will not be able to be successful professionals.”
Secondly, when motivated and empowered young people choose to confront the unfriendly labour market proactively, by starting their own ventures, they face many roadblocks. From complex legal frameworks and over-regulation, the culture of ‘reactivity’ hampers the emergence of entrepreneurs among the youth.
“With a cultural embrace of a proactive approach to both education and the labour market, individuals will be able to use their creativity and problem-solving skills to see set-backs as challenges. Through a proactive approach, we will be able to understand that we all have the potential to be part of the solution to any problem,” remarked the YouthProAktiv representative.
The European economic crisis has been universally presented as an expected consequence – indeed the very essence – of an economic cycle full of peaks and valleys. However, the real challenge is the European mindset crisis that prevents us from feeling the responsibility to work toward a solution. We need proactive individuals ready to invest their talents for the betterment of society by starting their own businesses to create jobs for themselves and others.
The entire YouthProAktiv presentation was an individual call for action. “We should start by making clear to ourselves that we have enough potential to do whatever we want to do, and that we are never ‘ready for anything’ until we start doing it, because we get ready by doing,” stated Ms. Cantero. “All YouthProAktiv training programs are designed to empower you to move forward,” “Because you’re the best solution to the challenge of a reactive culture”. “Be proactive, determined, and creative,” she continued. “Take your ideas and go for it“
Brussels, 18 of November 2014