After the 2008 economic crisis, the overall unemployment rate rose dramatically within the European Union, leading to job losses and an increase in unemployment throughout the Union. The core of the Union has recovered, but its Southern and Eastern peripheries suffered the blow and never fully got back on their feet. This social emergency affects youth, with no exceptions.
According to the European Commission in 2019 more than 3.3 million young people (aged 15-24 years) are unemployed in the EU. Even if the unemployment rate has recently decreased, the youth unemployment rate is still much higher and even spiking in some Mediterranean countries.
Labour market experts have identified some elements that are connected and lead to a high rate of youth unemployment. Some of these are a lack of qualifications to access high-skilled graduate jobs, and cultural or social aspects, or a lack of jobs in the fields that students have chosen to study. In fact, as the labour market gets more and more globalized, it turns very competitive thus requiring higher skills, while young people with low skills are left to face mass unemployment or offered only temporary and part-time contracts in the service sector.
This is the situation that triggered this project in which the four participating countries have very different employment environments. At two ends of the spectrum we have Spain with one of the highest unemployment rates in Europe and Iceland with one of the lowest; and Turkey and Portugal that fall towards a high unemployment rate.
The aim of this project is to offer ideas and solutions to European youth by showing them the opportunities and options offered to them by their own government through entrepreneurship, helps, grants and career advice.
Our program starts on September in Almada, Portugal; seven young people and two leaders of each participating country arrive in Almada exited to be involved in this project and to meet people with different experiences and views, knowing a little about their desires and hopes for this project, and mixing countries under the same European Flag that we feel we all belong to, this allows us to become one multicultural group.
Many different initiatives exist to promote youth entrepreneurship, from providing training to young people who want to start their own business to venture capital funds helping to promote these businesses, yet little is known about what works best. We explored the governments efforts in our home countries to promote entrepreneurship within their unemployed population, most specifically its youth. This is the theme of our second trip, this time to Elazig, Turkey, where our participants explore solutions to the problem of unemployment.
A series of Workshops, games and simulations would allow our participants to have a better understanding of how entrepreneurship works in their country of origin and how it differs throughout Europe.
The participants were also encouraged to come up with a business idea, a budget, and a marketing plan with the use of the Canvas Business Model in a workshop that would allow them to understand the process behind the creation of a new business, the tax laws that surround that enterprise and the process and costs necessary to start an idea in different locations. This simulation highlighted all aspects of becoming a entrepreneur in Europe today.
Our project does not finish here, it will carry on with our participants in their home countries, the ideas that have been influenced by the exchange of information and views that happened throughout the project will forever change the way we see certain world events.