The two-year PRESET programme saw young people from across Europe and Latin America work together on sustainable entrepreneurship projects.
According to Mario Draghi, President of the European Central Bank, the job market does more to protect older workers at the expense of younger job seekers. In the European Union (EU), youth unemployment figures are just shy of 17% - though relatively stable economies such as Germany, in which the number is as low as 6.7%, mask the fact that almost 1 in 2 young people are unemployed in Greece. It's a similar situation in Latin America, where just under 16% of young people are unemployed; while Guatemala's 5.1% betters Germany, high youth unemployment is an issue across the region, peaking in Jamaica where a third of young people do not have jobs.
With youth unemployment leading in some cases to increased social problems and ill health, projects such as "PRESET" – participation, resilience, entrepreneurship, sustainability, employment, and training – are in high demand. Addressing the issues stemming from youth unemployment and social exclusion in Europe and Latin America, PRESET promotes economically and environmentally sustainable youth entrepreneurship by fostering cooperation and the exchange of best practices.
The two-year project ended in November 2016, having seen 12 youth workers and 27 young people from across Europe and Latin America participate. A diverse set of backgrounds were represented, including students, unemployed young people, and young offenders. 'We are very different from each other, which is a good thing,' explained Ana Paula, a participant from Brazil. 'At first, I did not know how I, as a designer, could play a role. But it was a very enriching experience, because it went beyond our professions. I realized if we cooperate with each other, we are able to come up with new ideas and make the world a better place.'
The participants were invited to two youth exchanges, a job shadowing mission to Argentina and a final conference in Argentina with relevant stakeholders from youth work, education, politics, administration and business. Youth workers were also invited to participate in five mobilities. 'I met with two other participants in the workshop held in Argentina and, since then, we have opened our own green start-up. It's been a year now, and we all share this idea that we want to do something useful for society, so we also take the time to participate in social projects,' said Benedikt, from Germany.
By actively supporting young people in acquiring various multidisciplinary skills, including entrepreneurship, digital skills, multicultural competencies and environmental awareness, participants reported being able to improve their prospects and reduce the risk of social and economic exclusion. 'It opened new doors for me, connecting me with other people who value me and my contributions,' commented Dijana, from Croatia. 'They helped me realise that I have worth and they pushed me to start again.'
The project also included some online capacity building activities on sustainable entrepreneurship and media usage for both youth workers and the young participants. Seven youth and civil society organisations from the EU and Latin America, working mainly at the grass roots level with disadvantaged young people, implemented PRESET: Starkmacher e.V. from Germany, Italy's Associazione Internazionale New Humanity, Udruga za ekonomiju zajednistva from Croatia, Slovenian Zavod za aktiviranje druzbenih potencialov, Obra Social Nossaa Senhora da Esperança - Fazenda da Esperança from Brazil, Movimiento de los Focolares from Argentina and Bolivian Fundacion Unisol.
The consortium developed various digital products through the project, including web-based eLearning resource Youth Business 2.0 for youth workers, containing good practice, training modules and other practical tools, and an app called ECO Navigator, based on the theme of sustainable entrepreneurship and providing young people with a comprehensive knowledge base and interactive learning tools.
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