We already described the first Promoting Adult Skills (PAS) event, dedicated to the development of key competencies for improved employability of the long-term unemployed, here. However, this time we will focus on the event for (and with) the youth – fundamental abilities, which they would require in the labour market and life in general, as well as related topics (housing, volunteering, etc). The gathering on 20 May was organised by the Slovenska Bistrica Adult Education Centre and attended by 34 participants, including the representatives of the Ministry of Labour, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities, Ministry of the Environment and Spatial Planning, Employment Service of Slovenia (ZSRS), National Youth Council of Slovenia, Slovenian Student Union (ŠOS), as well as other youth organisations and members of the youth. The VIP guest at the event was the mayor of Slovenska Bistrica, Mr Ivan Žagar, PhD.
With youth for the youth – on participation, employment and policy
Education: Although Slovenia has a large share of youth who completed tertiary education a large share of youth with tertiary degrees is also unemployed. The main reason for this is the discrepancy between the knowledge and skills required by the labour market and the knowledge and skills generated by the education system. This in turn leads to structural unemployment. However, there is also a large share of unemployed youth who completed only primary education, which calls upon improvement of their education levels. Education opportunities are provided by the Public Empleyment Service (ZRSZ), e.g. education for additional competencies or the so-called “tailor-made” programmes, which lead to employment, as well as other forms of informal education and training. On the other hand, adult education centres, which offer, among other, the continuation of formal education, face the problem of fictional enrolment, when many enrol to acquire the status of participant in education programmes, in order to be able to work through student work service. The situation is the same in Ilirska Bistrica. The youth find the offered non-formal programmes interesting, however, it is difficult to convince the students to enrol therein due to various reasons.
Employment: The Ministry of Labour, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities offers to youth several current measures (scholarships for shortage occupations, First Challenge (Prvi izziv) public call, Project Learning for Young Adults (PUM-O), etc), while another key programme is the Youth Guarantee programme implemented by the EC (2014-2015 and 2016-2020) through which all youth under 29 years of age (in other countries only up to the age of 25) receive a high quality offer for employment, further education, apprenticeship or internship within fourth months after the completion of their education or when they first become unemployed. However, not all problems can be solved by the state. It is also essential that the business sector, i.e. the employers, systematically cooperate with the policy makers and educators at the local level. It was interesting to hear the mayor’s view, who highlighted another challenge, i.e. how to keep the youth ‘at home’, in their local environment where there is not adequate interest and employment opportunities. At the same time, the mayor praised the excellent cooperation with the local enterprise, Impol. We could listen about voluntary internship, which offers opportunities and provides candidates with experience, but it fails to feed an empty stomach.
In Bela Krajina, where there is a 20% unemployment rate of which 25% are the unemployed youth, their bet is on self-employment. Among the required abilities the representatives of the Črnomelj Adult Education Centre prioritised self-initiative and entrepreneurship as well as communication skills. “Create your own job!” is the moto, which underpins their operation.
The Youth Scheme programme of the Ministry of the Environment and Spatial Planning (MOP) within the National Housing Programme for the 2015-2025 period provides four types of measures – from the purchase of apartments at a lower price, lease purchase, shared ownership and building of housing communities. Its pilot implementation will be conducted in cooperation with the youth and local communities. During this phase MOP would desire more interaction with youth in order to tailor the programme to the needs of youth as much as possible, which means that members of the youth will share the responsibility for the resolution of the housing problem. Acquisition of financial and digital competencies and active citizenship are inevitable challenges on the described path.
The PAS event in Slovenska Bistrica definitely highlighted the complexity of the youth field, presented several possibilities and opportunities and called for networking and cooperation. The representative of the MSS stressed that youth want more dialogue with decision- and policy-makers, however, it sometimes seems that there is no adequate basis. This is often due to the lack of information and opportunities for such discussions. The youth likes to associate on the basis of common interest, while there is no will for coordinated political action and participation. It seems that many youth lack the civic competences, however, the youth themselves should recognise the need for higher levels of participation, which would ensure their empowerment in all fields of life and their activity.
A nice and interesting conclusion of the discussion was the voting with the Socrative Student app, since we could get an immediate overview of the participants’ opinions. Young participants already attended the morning workshop: We kindly request that you prepare your mobile phones!, so they had an advantage over us, who decided for a printed survey. The youth have basically been born with the digital competencies, so all they have to do is employ them to best support their day-to-day life and work.
At the end of the PAS event we drafted a manifesto which refers to three fields: participation, active citizenship and democracy; employment and digitalisation; and European and national policies. The manifesto shall serve as a beacon for further work with the youth in the local and broader environment.
Zvonka Pangerc Pahernik, MA (email@example.com), Slovenian Institute for Adult Education
Zvonka Pangerc Pahernik works at the Slovenian Institute for Adult Education in the field of promotional and information activities. She is the national coordinator for the implementation of the European Agenda on Adult Learning. She is interested in effective promotional approaches and promotion of cooperation and connecting of stakeholders in adult education.