‘We are the best qualified generation in human history’
International ProAktivity Summit 2015
The YouthProAktiv International ProAktivity Summit 2015 was held on the 15-17 July in Brussels, bringing together young students, entrepreneurs, professionals from various fields and key-decision-makers. By fostering the discussion of innovative ideas, sectors and trends, we sought to promote, with the active contribution of our participants, a new approach on proactivity whose core resides on youth initiative, innovation and social inclusion.
YouthProAktiv sees both this discussion and these values not only as essential in a modern democratic society, but also as realistic and indispensable steps towards economic and social recovery. We believe that a new entrepreneurial culture, centred on people, is a vital asset for a crisis-afflicted Europe that can help its young people become not just job-seekers, but job-creators. From our perspective, the European youth holds in its hands the keys to implement it through proactiveness, education, hard work and the audacity to create something for themselves and for others.
A total of four enhanced discussions were held during the summit, gathering a number of top experts from various fields and organisations, that allowed for active debates on “Mentality change and Educational Reform”, “Opportunities and Difficulties for Business in Europe”, “How to create a good product for the market?”, and “Where to Look for Business Opportunities? New Branches of Economy”. The main conclusions and recommendations included:
- The need to reform the education systems and change the existing paradigm, which are based on and promote standardisation in skills and knowledge, to a new one that makes full use of the students’ different potential and characteristics.
- The often ignored advantages of SMEs, compared with the larger companies, in adapting and manoeuvring in crisis contexts.
- The actual importance of “failing” in people’s pathway to success, which is commonly ignored due to culturally induced misconceptions, and the need to create legal and financial safeguards that protect young entrepreneurs in case of early difficulties.
- The perception of crowdfunding as an opportunity to test the businesses’ viability.
- The importance of keeping at all times a communication channel with our clients, receive their feedback, and remain open to make slight changes to our products whenever and wherever necessary, so we are sure to address their real needs.
- The subjectivity of the importance of being a pioneer and create entirely new products and markets whenever factors such as perseverance and good timing are absent.
- The need for entrepreneurs to have a long-term vision from the very start, rather than developing it along the way, and to analyse in advance the existing competition.
- The impact of ever faster technological advancements in the reduction of business operation costs, all while facilitating the access of SMEs to outsourcing, allowing SMEs to level up their game and compete more effectively with bigger companies.
- The growing importance of social media in the entrepreneurial landscape.
- The necessity for companies to customize their advertising strategies.
- Digital literacy as a key driver in our societies and a growing priority in education programs.
- The importance for the European economies of creating a new framework for our ageing populations that allows them to remain active for a longer time.
- The need for social business to structure itself in pillars such as quality, efficiency and competitiveness, which are the traits of all successful businesses, whether they address social concerns or not.
- Money is always important, but dedication and hard-work are, ultimately, more decisive factors.
Furthermore, participants were invited to work on a draft “Declaration of Young Europeans on Youth Unemployment”, which will be presented both to the European Commission and to the European Parliament to the CULT, ITRE and EMPL Committees.
Finally, as the culmination of a fruitful summit, a group of young successful entrepreneurs gave their valuable testimony and shared with the audience the role of proactivity, entrepreneurship and persistence in their personal professional experiences and success.
It is our expectation and hope that the 2015 International ProAktivity Summit has strengthened the voice of young European citizens, whose proactivity and entrepreneurship are and will remain the most important driving force towards social improvement, economic development and technological progress.