Please find the official video of the Eastern Partnership Youth Forum. Watch it! Share it! Use it! Let's make the youth cooperation within Eastern Partnership visible and useful!
Please find the official video of the Eastern Partnership Youth Forum. Watch it! Share it! Use it! Let's make the youth cooperation within Eastern Partnership visible and useful!
The participants of the Eastern Partnership Youth Forum came up with the following statements with regard to a continued and reinforced cooperation between Eastern Partnership and Youth in Action Programme countries. These conclusions are directed to different stakeholders, including youth policy makers and youth work structures, at appropriate level in Eastern Partnership countries and EU Member States.
The conclusions of the Eastern Partnership Youth Forum are based on a common analysis of youth cooperation between EU and Eastern Partnership countries, including youth policies and especially the implementation of the Eastern Partnership Youth Window. They are focussed on developments in the quality of youth work, opportunities for the development of political strategies, inclusion and recognition strategies and the further development of youth work within Eastern Partnership and EU countries.
You can find the Joint Conclusions here (.pdf)
Gintarė Vasiliūnaitė, young journalist of Eurodesk Lithuania and EU programme “Youth in Action”
In 2011 “Pathways 2.0 towards of non-formal learning/education and of youth work in Europe” – a working paper of partnership between the European Commission and the Council of Europe within the field of youth – was released. The previous paper, which had been released in 2004, served as a basis for important developments concerning the recognition of learning experiences within the youth sectors in the past years (Youthpass, Portfolio, Bridges for Recognition, European Principles for Validation etc.). These two documents strongly influenced the strategic discussions on recognition of non-formal learning and youth work in Europe in the last six to seven years. In the Eastern Partnership Youth Forum the topic was widely discussed as well as recommendations were made how to improve the current situation.
Participants when asked what competences gained through non-formal education were important to employers replied with a wide range of choices. The most often mentioned were creativity, efficient time-management and professional experience as well as ability to work well in a team and persistence. A social worker from Georgia stressed that young people who take part in various youth projects realize their potential better and also gain professional experience by volunteering. However, most respondents noted that recognition of these competences in most countries still have a long way to go.
During the first day of the event Ms. Rita Bergstein from SALTO Training and Cooperation listed some of the better well-known recognition tools in her presentation such as Youthpass, Europass, portfolio for youth worker and youth leader, Nachweise International, Duke of Edinburgh award etc. Later, the participants discussed what was (or wasn’t) working in their countries and how these tools can be improved. Much emphasis was put on Youthpass, since it was the most well-known, and the importance of making youth workers more aware of the benefits of it. Short trainings were offered which proved to be working in Armenia and the change in design “to make it more appetizing”. Also, the idea of making a personal web interface and being able to update one’s Youthpass was met with great enthusiasm.
Moreover, a student from Netherlands offered several other effective methods to improve the recognition tools. He suggested a possible integration to Europass, since it is very popular and well-known, also an opportunity to be able to print a one-page summary of one’s competences for CV, employers etc., and to classify the tools to the aim of recognition. Other participants also mentioned that less-known tools should get more visibility like, for example, in Belarus where non-formal education festivals are taking place for several years now.
After the discussions, Ms. Bergstein expressed her pleasure that most ideas that were expressed during the event are already being realized. However, when asked if they were working on recognition in business sector she emphasized that the main focus is not on the certificate but on the process of non-formal learning. Furthermore, Mr. Peter Matjašič, President of the European Youth Forum, repeats her: “People who take part in youth projects don‘t do it because they want competences. They do it because they believe in the cause and are inspired by it. And if they gain some competences in the process, then that‘s great.”
Gintarė Vasiliūnaitė, young journalist of Eurodesk Lithuania and Lithuanian NA of “Youth in Action”
According to the European Commission, non-formal learning means learning that takes place through planned activities where some sort of learning support is present. It takes place outside the formal education, vocational training and higher education, and can include different activities – from programs to impart work-skills for early school-leavers to in-company training to structured online learning, projects of non-formal youth learning to develop a self-conscious personality. The main principles of non-formal education are holistic approach, learning from experience, group process-oriented learning, active participation in the learning process.
While the recognition of competences gained through non-formal education is still a work in progress, young people are already reaping the benefits. In the Eastern Partnership Youth Forum, which took place 22nd-25th October in Kaunas, several people shared their and the people they worked with, stories about non-formal education experience related to participation in international EU programmes.
During the first day of the Forum a young woman from Belarus Natallia Kunitskaya told her story about finding courage to follow her dreams. Ever since she was little, she loved composing and performing but a year ago she was working in a bank, distinctly wondering if she’ll ever have a career in music. The turning point in her life was a youth project in Sweden ‘Give Music a Chance’ where she had an opportunity to see what her life would be like if she just believed in herself. For a whole week she worked on music daily and communicated with other musicians from different countries. In her speech, she made it a point to stress out how much this clash of cultures helped her to improve as a person. The final personal result of this project was that Natallia decided to exchange a stable job in a bank for something that she always wanted to do – be a musician. At the moment she is working on her first CD, which she plans to release in spring.
Another example of the opportunities, provided by international youth projects, was given by Marisha – a youth worker from Belarus. She worked as a facilitator in Eastern Partnership Youth Forum. In an interview, conducted by young journalists of Eurodesk Lithuania and NA of “Youth in Action”, she told about a “Youth in Action” project in Lithuania ‘Week on Arts’ where a class of students from school had to spend five days in each other’s company and learn how to solve various conflicts and problems. In addition, every day they had to work with an artist or a musician on a performance which reflected some problem at school. With great enthusiasm Marisha marked how much students enjoyed the project and what a great deal of knowledge they gained, not to mention the practical social skills they developed which, with no doubt, will be useful in the future.
The final story is of yet another project in Lithuania. A local youth worker shared a story about her project with a group of girls from 9th and 10th grades of secondary school. The project was dedicated to self-improvement of the pupils with fewer opportunities since they had to write down specific goals and, with the help of youth workers, to achieve them (e.g. in a month to learn enough French to hold a short conversation). One of the participants – a girl in 9th grade who knew she will soon have to face a decision of what to choose when she went to a vocational school – had no idea what she wanted to do in her future. However, by taking part in the project and having an opportunity to try out her hand at arranging flowers she realized that she’d love to be a florist, which is what she chose when the time came.
At one of the most important events in the youth policy field during the Lithuanian Presidency of the Council of the European Union – the Eastern Partnership Youth Forum, which took place on 23-24th October, 2013 in Kaunas – the main attention was devoted to the importance of non-formal education and questions about youth work.
“Every state should recognise the importance of non-formal education and quality work for youth. Assurance that the field-defining documents are also appropriately implemented in direct work with youth is important, as well as the defining documents themselves,” Minister of Social Security and Labour Algimanta Pabedinskienė said at the opening of the Eastern Partnership Youth Forum.
According to the Minister, the EU devotes a lot of attention at the highest level to the promotion of youth employment and integration into the labour market, and much effort is made to help the most vulnerable group of youth – those not in education, employment or training.
“We are proud to have launched the European Alliance for Apprenticeship initiative. We believe it will create more opportunities for youth to gain practical skills in the workplace, and improve the quality of this type of learning. We also see that states show great willingness to introduce Youth Guarantees in practice. All these achievements are really important, and should continue,” A. Pabedinskienė said.
One of the essential goals of the Eastern Partnership Youth Forum was to achieve greater recognition for persons working with youth and non-formal education, especially in the context of social integration, based on cooperation at the international, national, regional and local level.
The aim is also to improve quality and increase the visibility and importance of non-formal education and work with youth, encourage the collection of good practice and its sharing among Eastern partners and EU states. It is also important to reveal opportunities of current youth cooperation, according to the EU “Youth in Action” programme in the field of the Eastern Partnership, and discuss future opportunities that will appear in the EU education, training, youth and sport programme. The main organiser and coordinator of the Eastern Partnership Youth Forum is the Agency of International Youth Cooperation, and the partners are the European Commission, the Ministry of Social Security and Labour, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the European Youth Forum, SALTO, the British Council, Lithuanian Youth Council, the Youth Affairs Department at MSSL, and others.
The event involved about 200 youth leaders, employees of youth organisations, representatives of youth policy from the EU programme Youth in Action, Norway, Turkey and six Eastern Partnership countries – Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.
During the Presidency of the Council of the European Union, Lithuania has intended that one of the priorities will be strengthening cooperation with Eastern states. In 2009, the EU officially started cooperation with Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine, with the goal to encourage the wide implementation of political and economic reforms and help Eastern states get closer to the EU.
Non-formal youth education is a purposeful activity develops personal, social and educational competences of a young individual, and seeks to develop a conscientious character who can solve his/her problems responsibly and creatively, and actively participate in social life.
Education of conscientiousness requires special scope to perceive oneself and the environment, to take responsibility safely, and test oneself and learn from one’s experience. Such scope cannot be provided by the formal structures (school, family, work) that fulfil other important functions.
Non-formal youth educators can be those with formal or non-formal education with proven competences in working with youth and youth groups.
On 22–25 October, the most important event dedicated to youth of the Lithuanian Presidency of the EU Council – the Eastern Partnership Youth Forum – was taking place in Kaunas. Two-hundred youth leaders, employees of youth organizations, and representatives of youth policy from the EU programme Youth in Action and six Eastern Partnership countries – Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine – were participating in the Forum.
What will the education system in Lithuania and Europe look like in 10 years? How can non-formal education contribute to the promotion of democracy? Is non-formal education valued and recognized enough in the European Union’s labour market? This and other questions were discussed at the 1st Eastern Partnership Youth Forum.
According to Lilija Gerasimienė, Head of the Agency of International Youth Co-operation, this Forum seeks to promote cooperation with the Eastern Partnership countries, and strengthen the importance of acknowledging non-formal education.
"Participation in international exchange programmes, volunteering activities, and language improvement courses contributes to a broader outlook. In this Forum, youth representatives from various countries were discussing the importance of non-formal education in the EU, and how to increase it in countries such as Belarus and Moldova," Gerasimienė says.
During the event in Kaunas, guidelines for the recognition of non-formal education were prepared. It is planned to submit this document to the EU’s institutions and present it during the Eastern Partnership's topical meetings. The High Representatives of the 28 EU member countries, six Eastern Partnership countries, and the Heads of the EU’s institutions were partivipating in the Forum.
The Eastern Partnership Forum’s participants came to Kaunas on 22 October. A daytime excursions were organized as well as a meeting with the Mayor of Kaunas, Andrius Kupčinskas. Officially, the Eastern Partnership Forum was open 23 October.
Jan Truszczyński, Director-General of the EC Directorate-General for Education and Culture, Dainius Pavalkis, Minister of Education and Science of the Republic of Lithuania, Algimanta Pabedinskienė, Minister of Social Security and Labour of the Republic of Lithuania, and Peter Matjašič, President of the European Youth Forum, were participating in the event. Vladas Lašas represented the business community.
Memories from Eastern Partnership Youth Forum 2013
Photos by E. Gendrenaite, video by Animoto
Music: Planet of Sound - We Are Together
On 22–25 October, the Eastern Partnership Youth Forum took place in Kaunas. Forum was one of the most important events in the youth policy field during the Lithuanian Presidency of the Council of the European Union. Two-hundred youth leaders, employees of youth organizations, and representatives of youth policy from the EU programme Youth in Action and six Eastern Partnership countries – Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine – participated in it.
Brochure about Eastern Partnership, EaP youth forum,recognition of NFL and youth work (EN and RU)
Brochure in EN and RU - Brochure.pdf
Youth work and NFL in EaP Countries,presentation of Behrooz Motamed-Afshari can be downloaded - presentation.pdf
Mr. Andriy Pavlovych, SALTO Eastern Europe and Caucasus
Recognition of Non Formal Education in Eastern Partnership Countries, presentation of Mr. Andriy Pavlovych, SALTO Eastern Europe and Caucasus can be downloaded - presentation.ppt
Autumn is the season of fruits. In my hands I have a fresh pomegranate. My grandmother told me it is very healthy. And I believe her. This pomegranate symbolises me this event. Plenty of seeds are inside this apple. 200 seeds, pardon, 200 young people, youth workers, youth researchers and youth policy makers gathered here in Kaunas from the EU and its Eastern Partnership countries.
Before this pomegranate became big, round and tasty, many things had to happen.
This pomegranate became big, because of development of the Eastern Partnership Platform 4 „Contacts between people“.The inspiration to organise Eastern Partnership Youth Forum also came by the successful practice of the implementation of the Eastern Partnership Youth Window.
This pomegranate became round, because the EU has its Youth Strategy, there are the EU Council Recommendations on the validation of non-formal and informal learning. And the topics of the event are based on the EU-CoE Youth Partnership symposium on the recognition of non-formal learning and youth work.
This pomegranate became tasty, because in one month Vilnius will welcome heads of states of the EU and its Eastern Partnership countries. It is important that not only presidents and prime ministers come together to cooperate. We are happy that with this event we will highlight youth and non-formal education recognition issues in this context.
We have a little problem. The pomegranates do not grow in Lithuania. So, we needed organisers and partners to bring them here in Kaunas. Our National Agency is only a small player in making this happen.
We appreciate involvement and contribution of the European Commission, EU-CoE youth partnership, the Lithuanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, SALTO Eastern Europe and Caucasus, SALTO Training and Cooperation, the United Kingdom, Austrian, Polish and Latvian National Agencies of the Youth in Action Programme, the European Youth Forum. Moreover, different stakeholders from Lithuania are involved such as the Lithuanian Council of Youth Organisations (LiJOT) and the Ministry of Social Security and Labour.
What makes the pomegranate so special, it is juice. In order to benefit from the vitamins in the juice, we determined the objectives of this event. And I hope we will not overdose it.
I am sure that during the forum you will share examples of good practices, discuss what is needed for the greater recognition of non-formal education and youth work.
I very much hope you will find answers how to ensure the quality of non-formal education. How to ensure visibility. And how competences gained in the non-formal education should be valued in the labour market.
I am sure this forum will provide space for new cooperation.
The conclusions that will be made in this event will be passed to the policy level and especially Eastern Partnership Platform 4. This may influence the future programmes and financing of cooperation between the EU and Eastern partnership countries as well as processes of non-formal education recognition.
We would like that cherishing of this pomegranate would continue in the future and other organisation will take care of coordinating role of such forum.
It is also good to know when it is enough to talk about the pomegranate. When its time to taste it. Enjoy it!
Ms. Rita Bergstein, SALTO Training and Cooperation
Recognition of non-formal learning and youth work in Europe, presentation by Ms. Rita Bergstein, SALTO Training and Cooperation can be downloaded in PDF file - recognition.pdf
“Employers, especially those in the business sector, place increasing importance on self-confidence, enthusiasm, communicability and practical abilities rather than on an education diploma that proves formal competences. These are the skills which people gain during non-formal education by participating in trainings, seminars, activities of NGOs, international exchange programmes, etc.,” - Žilvinas Gailius, an expert in non-formal education, comments on labour market trends.
The importance and value of non-formal education to the labour market will be discussed during the first Eastern Partnership Youth Forum, which will take place in Kaunas on 22-25 October. The participants are young people and those who work with young people in Europe and South Caucasus.
According to Mr Gailius the labour market is in need of responsible, self-confident people who are good at working in teams and already have practical skills. Businesses, especially ones that operate globally, often give candidates practical tasks that are related to the specifics of the job position.
“Usually people who have experience in non-formal education perform these tasks with more creativity and speed. They are also more relaxed during job interviews and know how to introduce themselves, are able to easily answer questions and have a clear understanding of what their capabilities are. Employers never fail to notice these qualities during interviews. The amount of responsibility you can take and your self-confidence are the things which are important to an employer, not the diploma you have,” – says Mr Gailius, Consultant and Partner at Kitokie projektai.
International cooperation is an advantage
As the labour market becomes increasingly more global the requirement of experience in international exchange programmes and international cooperation becomes one of the key requirements for employees.
According to Mr Gailius, international cooperation skills are currently one of the priority non-formal education areas of activity on the labour market. Lilija Gerasimienė, Director of the Agency of International Youth Co-operation (JTBA), also agrees with this.
“It is necessary for a young person to participate in an international exchange programme, volunteer or get involved in other non-formal activities at least once in his lifetime. This allows looking at yourself and the surrounding world from a different viewpoint, helps learn teamwork and improve language skills. The competences acquired through non-formal education are beginning to be recognized by employers, and I hope this will become more prevalent,” – Ms Gerasimienė admits.
Non-formal education allows young people to participate in projects, trainings and seminars and acquire experience that is useful to employers. They learn to organise their activities, manage crisis situations, independently make decisions and evaluate their importance.
According to Ms Gerasimienė, any additional activities and skills are considered highly valuable by both employers and fellow employees, politicians and representatives of the education sector in countries such as Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. “Unfortunately, the attitude in Lithuania is still somewhat indifferent,” – says Ms Gerasimienė.
Non-formal education will be discussed during an international forum
The importance of non-formal education and youth work issues will be discussed this week during the first Eastern Partnership Youth Forum that is organized by JTBA in Kaunas on 22-25 October. It is one of the key youth events of the Lithuanian Presidency of the Council of the European Union.
The forum will bring together around 240 youth leaders, employees of youth NGOs and youth policy representatives from the European Union‘s “Youth in Action” programme countries and six Eastern Partnership countries – Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.
We all live in a world which is in constant transformation: our societies become more and more complex and diverse; our young people have to cope with many challenges stemming from this perpetual change.
It is a big problem when highly educated young people struggle to find work while employers are unable to find the workers they need. It is time for us to revise our education systems as obviously the education systems in the EU are inadequate to address the requirements of the labor market.
In Europe we have at the same time a high number of university students and graduates but also an unusually high number of unemployed persons whose education does not correspond to what the labor market needs. This means that young people should think twice before deciding what to study. A dual system of cooperation between university and business which enables students to do traineeships in the professional sector is so far the best available system to prepare the EU's future workers.
According to European Commission research it is estimated that people nowadays will have to change jobs up to ten times in the course of their working life. As a consequence they will have to adapt to new requirements and technologies - and that is what lifelong learning is all about.
So our challenge here is to exchange our views and our ideas and to discuss them with today's youth. Our findings and conclusions will help us for the future, especially in the struggle against youth unemployment.
MEP Justina Vitkauskaite-Bernard
Member of the Youth Intergroup in the European Parliament