The Regional Funds Online Magazine - Issue 36

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APRIL 2023 N. 36 ISSN 2784-9465 SSN 2704-6540
Regional Funds Online Magazine

Director’s Editorial

Recovery and Upskilling in Transitioning European Economy: Ensuring Pathways for Vulnerable Groups

A chat with a Youth Worker

Youth Empowerment in the EU workspace

Your best skills – Promoting your best practices during all those years together in the occasion of the European Year of Skills - European Skills Agenda: which could be your Project’s Skills Agenda?

Professional practice and skills in the STEM field: Recording of audio-video content in the teaching base "Vinum Academicum"

Empowering Criminal Justice Professionals: The Train-the-Trainer Initiative for Skills Sharing and Capacity Building

Circular Economy requires new skills for new jobs

What balances more on the skills agenda for young NEETs?

Best practices during the implementation of project LIKE “Life Investment is the Key to Employment”

Your best skills – Promoting your best practices during all those years together in the occasion of the European Year of Skills

Your best skills – Promoting your best practices during all those years together in the occasion of the European Year of Skills

Paradigm shift in understanding “skills” - what AI can and cannot replace in youth work

YOUTHShare Project’s Skills Agenda: Promoting lifelong learning for being resilient in a post-covid employment era

Re-skilling and up-skilling. Factors of asymmetric human capital distribution in the EU regions

Your best skills – Promoting your best practices during all those years together in the occasion of the European Year of Skills + European Skills Agenda: which could be your Project’s Skills Agenda?

The RAISE Youth project and the European Year of Skills in Extremadura. Planning, efforts and outcomes

Cowork4YOUTH: Which skills are necessary for the project’s implementation

Identifying skills: Cowork4YOUTH’s approach

Skills Agenda and Cowork4YOUTH

From the Projects

Wingate Project – events!

EU-WATERRES team heading to one of the largest conferences for geoscientists in Europe: EGU2023

EU-WATERRES team published a new scientific article!

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Anti-Corruption and National Security Strengthening Anti-Corruption Policies through Public-Private Partnership Contents 3 5 7 11 13 14 16 18 21 23 25 28 29 30 31 33 34 36 38 40 41 41 42 43 44 45

StayOn WorldTea and Mind-Term Conference

Interview with Miquel Carrión, deputy director of Youth Employment of the SOC (occupation service of Catalonia)

A Friday morning brief: some considerations on our everyday work with the youth Blue Generation Project updates

SEPAL Project’s second coaches training, organised in Badalona

Let’s NEET together! #8 bringing together professionals from Catalonia, working in the field of youth employment

Let's NEET Together #9: Insights into Social Entrepreneurship, Workplace Inclusion, and Employment of People with Disabilities

RAISE Youth Achievements - More than 3000 NEETs

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Contributors & Credits 46 48 50 51 52 54 56 57 59 Regional Funds Online Magazine
from the RAISE Youth project

Director’s Editorial WELCOME! To the REGIONAL FUNDS ONLINE MAGAZINE

Dear Family,

It is with great pleasure that I am announcing you our renovated Mag. A unique and inspiring product, collecting together the successes of the Fund for Youth Employment and the Fund for Regional Cooperation. I wouldn’t say ‘new’, in terms of goals. We are still the same, a Family of Projects trying to reach the same common goals.

Why this change? First, because we love challenges! And this is, in some ways, a challenge. It is not always easy to think how to ameliorate something (our life, our work, our activities). And we know that this will imply having a longer Magazine. But I am saying it from the beginning: we are a Family. And this renovated Regional Funds Online Mag is perfectly reflecting the idea of this word I love so much, Family, indeed.

Step by step, we increased the quality of our online newspaper. We said goodbye to some Projects, we welcomed some ‘new entries’. Now, we have reached the point where we decided to join our forces. And this was possible for a specific reason. We have seen, these years, how our Project can easily cooperate among them, creating clusters, networks, exchanging ideas, successes and knowledge. That is why, to anticipate some changes, we decided not to start from ‘number 0’. To give you the idea of the existing continuity, it had sense, for us, to ‘sum’ together all the previous issues: now you know why this is the number 36!

Having merged the two Funds, you will receive one unique issue every month and a half, starting from this first one and… let’s see if we will have some Special Editions in between and who knows there won't be any more surprises!

We have maintained our usual colors, our layouts, therefore you won’t be confused. We just created a new, general contact in case you want to reach us out. And last but not least, talking about little technicalities, you will see a new structure of our newsletter, giving you more inputs in terms of highlighted contents. But this gives me the occasion to share with you an important reflection, which goes beyond technicalities. We are trying, thanks to the excellent results of our Projects, to give them more visibility. A due visibility, a desired and justified increase, in fact, by our excellences.

We still do not know which will be the future, but we know, for sure, that the interests towards our Projects has increased. And that is why, as I always precise, we always welcome external inputs. To start with a great one, the first hosts of our Regional Funds Mag are coming from the EU Neighbours East network, the Young European Ambassadors.

Does the European Year of Youth remind you something? ! I think so. And we are glad we had the opportunity to welcome into our Mag Maria Pia Napoletano, the coordinator of the YEA, and one girl part of it, Anastasia Papapetrou. I am sure you will find interesting their words, leading us to reflect as well on this year main topics, skills.

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Our Mag, let me say it, is an important skill. A skill that we thought, then grown, then improved. And we hope you will be able to feel, by reading us, the strong commitment existing behind these online pages. Our Donors, recently, felt it. And we are doing our best, together with our Projects, to make our activities and successes more known by Embassies and National Focal Points. We hope, in this sense, to expand further our big Family. We talked a lot with our Projects representatives in these last months, I am sure that in the next months you will be reading interesting results, that we hope to disseminate further. Our next events will be an occasion, being as well the moment where we will be able to reflect on the importance and the meaning if this activity that we have been doing for a long time now: networking. I am talking about our future Annual Seminar, for instance, and let’s see if we will be able to organise a closing ceremony of this first phase of the Regional Funds Programme in 2024.

For sure, we invite all of you to be part of this process. Stealing some words to Tom, our Friend again present and always part of our Family, and therefore inviting you to read him, I like to think that we will be here ‘Ensuring Pathways’. And what I hope, talking as well on behalf of all my colleagues, is that our path will meet new inputs coming directly from you.

Our doors are open, more than ever, and our Regional Funds Online Magazine is ready to welcome you all.

Enjoy our Mag and, especially, stay tuned!

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Recovery and Upskilling in Transitioning European Economy: Ensuring Pathways for Vulnerable Groups

In an earlier article on a similar subject I wrote about the ever-changing profile of the European economy and the associated need for people to be equipped with a relevant set of key competences – including literacy, numeracy and digital prowess. Nothing changes, but everything changes – thus learning skills and the ability to adapt is a lifelong affair. The governance and quality control of these emerging skills is as important as ensuring the prevention of skills gaps and mismatches. According to CEDEFOP, almost half of EU workers will need to update their skills and/or gain new ones to get or keep jobs and to embrace the opportunities of the digital and green transitions. Evolution is being bypassed by revolution, and labour markets need the flexibility and farsightedness to adapt to rapidly changing scenarios.

This raises the question of equitable access for all sectors in the roll out of public policy. Vulnerable groups must have an equal access to education, skilling and upskilling. The critical role of training in furnishing badly needed skills to improve productivity, incomes and widespread and equal access to employment opportunities seems particularly obvious and straightforward. It is widely accepted that training is an essential instrument of public policy, especially for the most vulnerable groups in society.

There is an emerging consensus that skills development for the poor and most vulnerable be an integral part of community-based economic and political development. In a report by the ILO (International Labour Organisation) it was concluded that “Communities need to mobilise around specific development alternatives that address key political, social, and economic constraints. Skills development should be driven by a 'people-centred' pedagogy' which maximises locally available skills and empowers the poor to learn for themselves.”

Low qualifications, disengagement from education and training and long-term unemployment are interconnected phenomena and tend to build up throughout a person’s life. To prevent and combat the marginalisation of youth and adults, national authorities across Europe have been developing measures to address the needs of people who slip through the cracks of standard education, training and employment policies. People who lack basic life and work skills require comprehensive strategies which may mobilise health, social and psychological services. The EU and Member states must avoid the creation of new gaps among the most vulnerable resulting from unequal access to technology, especially between generations, gender and between rural areas and cities.

The European Commission’s’ ‘European Skills Agenda’ strives towards sustainable competitiveness, social fairness and resilience. The aim is to ensure that the right to training and lifelong learning, enshrined in the European Pillar of Social rights, becomes a reality all across Europe. The agenda recognises that green and digital transitions, accompanied by demographic trends are transforming how we live, work and interact. The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated these transitions and brought new career challenges for many people in Europe. In the aftermath of the crisis, many Europeans will need to retrain in a new skill or improve their existing skills to adapt to the changed labour market.

Nicolas Schmit, EU Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights, said: “The skilling of our workforces is one of our central responses to the recovery, and providing people the chance to build the skill sets they need is key to preparing for the green and digital transitions. It gives everyone the possibility to benefit from new opportunities in a fast-moving labour market.”

The European Skills Agenda is a five-year plan to help individuals and businesses develop more and better skills and to put them to use by:

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• strengthening sustainable competitiveness, as set out in the European Green Deal;

• ensuring social fairness, putting into practice the first principle of the European Pillar of Social Rights: access to education, training and lifelong learning for everybody, everywhere in the EU;

• building resilience to react to crises, based on the lessons learnt during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Building upon the ten actions of the Commission’s 2016 Skills Agenda it also links to the European Digital Strategy; the Industrial and Small and Medium Enterprise Strategy and the Recovery Plan for Europe.

The European Commission has designated 2023 as the ‘European Year of Skills,’ an initiative that stems from the challenges and opportunities brought to the labour market by the digital and green transitions, which call for new skills of the workforce. It aims at boosting competitiveness, investment in training and upskilling opportunities to make sure that workers acquire the skills demanded on the labour market, including digital skills. According to Eurostat, only 37% of adults follow training on a regular basis, and many of them lack basic digital skills. The initiatives will also focus on the activation of more women, young people and vulnerable groups on the labour market.

It is hoped that the European Year of Skills will provide a new momentum to reach the EU 2030 social targets of at least 60% of adults in training every year, and at least 78% in employment, and this to be achieved by helping companies, in particular small and medium enterprises, to address skills shortages in the EU. Currently, more than three quarters of companies in the EU say they have difficulties finding workers with the necessary skills, while only 37% of adults undertake training on a regular basis.

The last word is given to Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission: “We need much more focus in our investment on professional education and upskilling. We need better cooperation with companies, because they know best what they need. And we need to match these needs with people's aspirations. But we also have to attract the right skills to our continent, skills that help companies and strengthen Europe's growth. “

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A chat with a Youth Worker

The European Year of Youth just ended, and its path is following within the European Year of Skills, where young people are, again, protagonists.

We met Maria Pia Napoletano during some stakeholders meeting and we believe that expanding our network is important towards the achievement of our shared goals.

Maria Pia is not only a Youth Worker. She is, among other things, the coordinator of the European network of Young European Ambassadors, of the EU NEIGHBOURS EAST.

You can discover more at this link: euneighbourseast.eu

And guess… among their activities, the YEA also has a Magazine (link in the interview)!

Enjoy our chat with her, followed by the contribution of another EU engaged young girl, Anastasia Papapetrou, part of this important network, which is currently composed by more than 900 active Young European Ambassadors.

Maria Pia, what does it mean, nowadays, to be a ‘Youth Worker’?

«To me, to be a youth worker means to support young people in finding their direction in life and helping them understand how they can contribute to society. These are very uncertain times in Europe, with the war raging, inflation, high youth unemployment rates in many countries and a post-pandemic society that poses new challenges. This brought to an evident polarization in many countries, that is undermining the progress done in terms of inclusion and pluralistic societies. In this context, the youth worker has a very important role, strengthening local communities and being a support to a generation that has to deal with many issues at once».

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«My message for the current and future generation will always be: get active!»
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When did you start this path? What drove you there?

«I discovered non-formal education in 2018, during University. I took part in my first Erasmus+ Youth Exchange and I was shocked by this new learning system that I had never heard of before.

Since then, I became passionate about it and got more involved in youth organizations and NGOs, learning how to be a moderator myself, how to manage events and projects on a local and international level, and how to support my peers.

Nowadays, I cannot imagine organizing any learning process without the use of nonformal education techniques and continuous innovation in processes».

Alongside being a Youth Worker, you are the coordinator of the Young European Ambassadors, the network part of the EU-funded EU-funded Regional Communication Programme for the Eastern Neighbourhood, EU NEIGHBOURS

east. What is the mission of this initiative, also considering the geographical area covered?

«The aim of the network is to create mutual understanding, strengthen civil society, empower young people to make their voices heard in their communities and impact the changes happening in their communities, their countries, Europe and the world».

How many are you?

«There are currently more than 900 active YEAs in the whole network, of which 120 are from the EU and UK».

What are the main activities?

«We do many different activities, often based on the country’s needs and the partners on the ground. Some of them are informational activities about EUfunded opportunities, with a specific focus on rural areas; educational activities, focused on the topics of democracy, youth participation and soft skills; participation in international events; policy contributions and cooperation with media and podcasting.

We also organize many online events to understand specific topics connected to the Eastern Partnership and the culture and traditions of the countries that are part of it.

More information on the network: https://euneighbourseast.eu/young-european-ambassadors/».

Which is the sense of the hashtag #strongertogether?

«The hashtag highlights the importance of working together towards strengthening our democracies and civil societies. It underlines that big things can only be achieved working together, in local communities and on an international level».

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How the Young European Ambassadors have been involved into the European Year of Youth?

«The network has organized many different types of events, mainly to shed a light on the needs of youth in the different countries that are represented in the network. One important focus has been (and still is) on the support to our Ukrainian peers and Ukraine’s fight for independence. On a policy level, YEAs have taken part in the consultation for the Youth Action Plan, the EU's operational roadmap for engaging young people in EU external action, that will improve the way we work for and with young people worldwide. Furthermore, we have supported the Council of Europe’s campaign “Democracy Here, Democracy Now”, a Council of Europe project coordinated by the Youth Department and aiming at revitalizing democracy through strengthening mutual trust between young people and democratic institutions and processes.

We have also published the second edition of our Magazine, with which we aimed at making a statement: young people and their rights and needs are at the heart of society, they need to be at the centre of decision-making and to have the space they deserve. Meaningful youth participation is essential to a healthy and democratic society».

And now, how much is the European Years of Skills important for this kind of initiatives?

«The European Year of Skills is very important to underline the importance of lifelong learning and a commitment to always develop new skills and be curious about learning new things.

The EU is offering many opportunities to learn and develop oneself – and this is a great opportunity to involve more youth in programmes that are designed for them, but are not always well-known, such as the Erasmus+ programme and many others».

Which are, or should be, the most important skills for our future?

«Some skills will be fundamental, such as digital skills, like the ability to proficiently use digital tools and make work smarter and more efficient, but also all kinds of soft skills and abilities to relate with people from different countries and cultures. Critical thinking will be another important skill to train, always asking ourselves questions about what we see and remembering to analyze what we read. Finally, learning to learn will be the most important aspect in a continuously changing society».

How should we (as a society) promote youth skills development and employability?

«I think we should always strive to make learning fun and demonstrate how learning in schools and formal education is just one of the ways one can pick up new skills and acquire new knowledge. The more learning becomes attractive, the more youth will want to learn new skills and consequently improve their profiles to easily find a job they like and that motivate them. Employers should also promote continuous development of new skills among the workforce».

Is it worth being part of such networks? What is your hope/message for the future generations?

«Being part of networks is a must. Individuals can achieve something on a small scale, but they will never have the strength that networks, groups and communities have. It is fundamental to come together to tackle common issues and to make sure our voices are heard.

I wish everyone to find the right community for them – in which they feel welcome, part of something and empowered by their peers!».

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«My message for the current and future generation will always be: get active!

Do not expect someone else to fight for your rights but get involved for what is important to you»

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Youth Empowerment in the EU workspace

High youth unemployment rates is a critical issue for EU member states and fostering the active participation of young people in the labour market is a priority for the European agenda.

Young people across the EU are experiencing a rapidly changing labour market as globalisation, technological development, and international mobility can offer both opportunities, but also difficulties, for them.

For perspective, during the aftermath of the 2008 global financial crisis, youth unemployment in the EU increased from 16.0% to a high of 24.4% in 2013. The figures had just started returning to their original levels when the COVID-19 pandemic began.

As of October 2022, Spain experiences the highest youth unemployment rate in Europe at 32.3%, followed closely by Greece, which as of this month has a youth unemployment rate of 27.3%. These are both significantly higher than the EU’s average youth employment rate which across all 27 member states is 15.1%

To help combat this situation, the International Labor Organisation adopted a resolution entitled “The youth employment crisis: A call for action” at their 101 International Labor Conference on 14 June 2012 . This addressed the urgent need for targeted and renewed action to tackle the youth employment crisis. It called for both partners and governments to implement fiscally sustainable and youth-targeted measures, such as countercyclical policies, demand-side interventions, public employment programmes, employment guarantee schemes, labour-intensive infrastructure programmes, wage and training subsidies, and other youth-specific employment assistance. It also demands the promotion of macroeconomic policies and fiscal incentives that support employment and stronger aggregate demand, improvement of financial access, and the increase of productive investment while considering the economic situation and development of each country.

In addition, the EU member states responded to the youth employment crisis by introducing the Youth Guarantee which promotes high-quality employment opportunities, continued education, as well as the importance of apprenticeships and traineeships for all youth under age 25. The recommendation is based on a EU Commission’s proposal which is part of the Youth Employment Support Package. The package is based on four different thematic areas that, together, aim to provide more jobs for the next generation.

The Youth Guarantee is financially supported by significant EU sponsors including the NextGenerationEU programme and the EU’s long-term budget.

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The EU also provides policy support and opportunities, allowing the EU Member States to learn from each other by sharing best practices in order to strengthen their infrastructure and improve implementation of the Youth Guarantee. The EU also monitors progress across Member States and should help establish accountability for proper implementation, and enforcement of the policies. Additional financial support is also provided by the Youth Employment Initiative (YEI) and the European Social Fund (ESF).

The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the already difficult start many young people experience when trying to enter the labour market. According to Eurostat, employment among 15-29 year-olds in the European Union fell by 2.8% due to the pandemic. The largest decreases were recorded in Portugal, Bulgaria, Latvia, Czechia, and Poland. The Eurostat data also demonstrated that there was some overall recovery during July to September 2021, but that the majority of EU Member States (16 of 27) have not fully recovered their pre-COVID rates.

With the support of NextGenerationEU and the future EU budget, the EU Commission has already proposed significant EU financial assistance for youth employment initiatives especially for projects that also align with other EU objectives including promoting green and digital transitions in employment. It is important for the Member States to build on the EU’s momentum and prioritise these investments. According to the EU Commission, at least €22 billion should be spent on youth employment support.

They urge Member States to take advantage of the financial assistance available for youth employment projects. For example, the European Social Fund Plus will be a key EU financial resource to strengthen the implementation of the youth employment support measures. As part of the Recovery Plan for Europe, the Recovery and Resilience Facility and REACT-EU will provide additional financial support for youth employment.

As ILO suggests, in order to properly tackle youth unemployment, governments must commit to action. Government departments should work together and avoid “one-size-fits-all” policies. Indicators like mental health should be monitored closely and specific interventions may be needed to help particular groups like young women, who often face additional challenges in the workplace. Additionally, investing in skills, education, high-quality jobs, and mental health will further help young people rejuvenate their educational and career prospects, empowering them to face the future with more confidence.

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Anastasia Papapetrou Young European Ambassador

Your best skills – Promoting your best practices during all those years together in the occasion of the European Year of Skills

European Skills Agenda: which could be your Project’s Skills Agenda?

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Professional practice and skills in the STEM field: Recording of audio-video content in the teaching base "Vinum Academicum"

bottles. The students were divided into five groups, with each group including a cameraman, an audio technician and a recording assistant. Through the recording process, they got to know the audio and video equipment, as well as the lighting they used. Over the next few weeks, the students will process and edit the recorded material under the supervision of mentor Damjan Pirović, in order to complete the production of that part of the video content by the end of the semester. The process of creating promotional content for the educational base "Vinum Academicum" will continue in the next semester, during which the grape harvest and other technological processes in the cellar will be filmed.

The teaching base "Vinum Academicum" in Podgorje was visited by students studying Electronic Business and Software Engineering from the Faculty of Tourism and Rural Development in Požega. As part of the Professional Practice course in the second year of study, students work with three experts in three areas. One area covers graphic preparation and creation of graphic materials for company promotion, while in the other part of the practice they create short 2D animations. The third part includes the recording and processing of audio and video content, and on this occasion the students came to the premises of the teaching bases.

The task of the students was first of all to familiarize themselves with the "Vinum Academicum" teaching base, and to see it in the role of a client. In addition, they made a filming plan and filmed the process of filling the

In this way, students become familiar with all the steps that need to be taken in creating promotional video material. On the surface, it is a simple process that can be done with all smartphones, but if our goal is to get quality promo material, then it is a complex process that includes a number of important details that need to be taken care of. Fortunately, the mentor Damjan Pirović, who does that part of the practical classes with the students, is up to the task so that the students have the opportunity to learn from a real expert. Dario Hak, videographer and sound engineer from Požega, assisted him in the recording process.

In addition to the mentor, the teaching base also included the vice dean for development and business, Assoc. Ph.D. Berislav Andrlić, who pointed out that such activities train students to independently organize marketing campaigns, understand available digital tools, and use the Internet for advertising, which is one of the goals of the study supported by the Financial Agency FINA and the Ministry of Science and Education with their scholarships. Also he presented details about project “Uncorking rural heritage“.

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In the teaching base with the students were also the practice managers Assoc. Ph.D.Sc. Robert Idlbek and assistant professor, Ph.D. Kristian Đokić, who state that they are extremely satisfied with this form of practical teaching, which takes place in the second year in the premises of the faculty and on the field. In this way, under controlled conditions, students acquire the skills and knowledge necessary for the labor market, which they will have the opportunity to demonstrate already in the third academic year as part of professional practice that takes place in the real sector, i.e. in companies.

Article and photo credit: Veleučilište u Požegi Uncorking rural heritage Project

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Empowering Criminal Justice Professionals: The Trainthe-Trainer Initiative for Skills Sharing and Capacity Building

theory asserts that the best learning resources come from peers, while Rogers' theory states that information is better internalised if transmitted by individuals close to the trainees’ social networks. Therefore, when training is provided by a colleague or team member, learners find it easier to relate to and use the information and skills acquired in their daily work. The Train-the-Trainer approach ensures the continuity of initial training. Once these professionals acquired sufficient knowledge, they will perform a cascade-type training with their colleagues. This means that the process can reach a larger audience without the need to train many professionals in the first stage. This approach allows organisations to develop their internal training capacity with broad training curricula and opportunities without needing to resort to external trainers, leading to a more prepared institution.

A convenient, effective, and networking-promoting approach

In the criminal justice field, it is crucial that professionals receive adequate and high-quality training in order to perform their jobs effectively and efficiently. However, training opportunities in this context have inherent difficulties, such as the challenges of bringing in an outside trainer or the need for professionals to travel from their workplace to receive training. Moreover, criminal justice professionals have demanding jobs with timesensitive tasks, making it challenging for them to find time during work hours to attend training.

Increasing organisational training capacity

The Train-the-Trainer model is based on Malcolm Knowles' Adult Learning Theory and Everett Rogers' Diffusion of Innovation Theory. Knowles'

With training solutions inside the organisation and among peers, it is easier to coordinate the sessions within the work schedule of criminal justice professionals. Therefore, it represents a more cost-e ff ective and convenient means to train professionals.

Moreover, peer-led training provides the advantage of a shared context, where the trainer has a greater familiarity and understanding of their colleagues' knowledge, needs and skills. This strategy allows professionals to adapt and improve the training, further providing a bettertailored and practical curriculum to their peers.

In addition, the Train-the-Trainer model can promote networking within the organisation, creating opportunities for future collaboration and partnerships between individuals.

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Adaptability to other fields and dissemination of skills

Studies have shown that Train-the-Trainer programmes can be an effective way to disseminate knowledge and information in several fields including medicine, mental health, childcare, and law enforcement. A study with public health trainees comparing learning through this strategy versus regular training, found few differences in learning outcomes, indicating that the Train-the-Trainer strategy can work as efficiently as traditional training. Moreover, it showed that 88% of these trainees agreed to have acquired knowledge on a new subject, and 62% agreed with being able to adapt the training to the trainees' needs while keeping it evidence-based.

Contributing to improving European skills

Train-the-Trainer programmes are a valuable approach that contributes to the development of European skills since they can help trainers develop a broader range of skills and competencies. They can promote the transfer of knowledge and skills across different sectors and industries, which is crucial in supporting the development of a diverse and adaptable workforce and addressing skills shortages at the European level. Empowering professionals to become trainers themselves, ensures continuous and sustainable training, leading to better-prepared, more effective and efficient justice systems.

Enhancing skills in the radicalisation prevention field

The HOPE ‘Holistic Radicalisation Prevention Initiative’ project includes a Train-the-Trainer model that focuses on enhancing trainers’ skills, promoting expertise sharing, and building training capacity within their organisation.

Targeting prison, probation, and community organisations, the initiative is helping to enhance the skills of professionals working with individuals vulnerable to radicalisation.

Furthermore, HOPE places a heavy focus on networking and knowledgesharing between organisations and their professionals through the HOPE Radicalisation Network, an online hub serving as a central resource repository and discussion space.

The HOPE “Holistic Radicalisation Prevention Initiative” is led by IPS_Innovative Prison Systems (Portugal) in partnership with the University College of the Norwegian Correctional Service, Agenfor International Foundation (Italy), the Euro-Arab Foundation for Higher Studies (Spain), the Bulgarian Association for Policy Evaluation, the General Directorate for the Execution of Sentences (Bulgaria), the Bucharest-Jilava Penitentiary (Romania), the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights (Serbia) and the Slovenian Probation Administration.

For more information about the HOPE project, please visit www.hoperadproject.eu

References:

Becan, J. E., Crawley, R. D., & Knight, D. K. (2019). Using a Train-the-Trainer Model to Promote Practice Change among Agencies Serving Justice-Involved Youth. Federal Probation Journal, 83(3).

de Beurs, D. P., de Groot, M. H., de Keijser, J., Mokkenstorm, J., van Duijn, E., de Winter, R F. P., & Kerkhof, A. J. F. M. (2015). The effect of an e-learning supported Train-the-Trainer programme on implementation of suicide guidelines in mental health care. Journal of Affective Disorders, 175, 446-453.

Lanterman, J. L. (2019). Training partner selection and quality assurance in restorative justice for the criminal justice setting. Contemporary Justice Review, 23(4), 544-562.

Pearce, J., Mann, M. K., Jones, C., van Buschbach, S., Olff, M., & Bisson, J. I. (2012). The Most Effective Way of Delivering a Train-the-Trainers Program: A Systematic Review. Journal of Continuing Education in the Health Professions, 32(3), 215-226.

Tobias, C. R., Downes, A., Eddens, S., & Ruiz, J. (2012). Building Blocks for Peer Success: Lessons Learned from a Train-the-Trainer Program. AIDS Patient Care and STDs, 26(1), 53-59.

Yarber, L., Brownson, C. A., Jacob, R. R., Baker, E. A., Jones, E., Baumann, C., Deshpande, A. D., Gillespie, K. N., Scharff, D. P., & Brownson, R. C. (2015). Evaluating a train-the-trainer approach for improving capacity for evidencebased decision making in public health. BMC Health Services Research, 15(547). HOPE

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project

Circular Economy requires new skills for new jobs

According to a recent study by Circle Economy, there will be a heightened focus on transversal skills – labelled as "broad skills", including digital and green literacy and problem-solving abilities, alongside the development of "deep skills" that are more closely tied to specific functions or disciplines. For a circular economy to work, it requires both manual and practical labour in activities involving sorting, cleaning, material recovery, repair and maintenance, as well as highly skilled work for the design and engineering of solutions for most efficient material recovery as well as increasing product longevity. It therefore offers opportunities for work across the full spectrum of labour.

Among the key activities at the Circular Based Waste Management project, is knowledge sharing and raising awareness on circular based practices. Throughout the project, partners have been examining case studies, hearing from experts and visiting sites in Norway and throughout Europe, where circular practices are followed in waste management.

The EU recognises that climate change and environmental degradation pose an existential threat to Europe and the world. The European Green Deal and the Circular Economy Action Plan, aim to tackle these issues while transforming the EU into a modern, resource-e ffi cient and competitive economy.

A recurring lesson throughout our project has been that the growing significance of the circular economy is set to bring about notable changes in the types of jobs and skillsets required.

Circle Economy divides circular economy jobs into three types: core, enabling and indirectly circular. Core jobs, are at the centre of a circular economy and work directly with repair, renewable energy, waste and resource management. Enabling jobs help accelerate upscaling of core circular activities and remove barriers. Such jobs include design, rethinking of business models, digital technologies, procurement, research and teaching. Indirect circular jobs are in other sectors that although do not play a direct role, adopt circular strategies. These include jobs that provide services to core circular strategies such as the public sector and information and logistics services.

At the UNESCO World Conference on Education for Sustainable Development that was held in May 2021, the Berlin Declaration on Education for Sustainable Development was adopted by its participants. UNESCO aims through Education for Sustainable Development (ESD), to equip learners with the knowledge, skills, values and attitudes that are needed to contribute to sustainable development and the circular economy.

The conference highlighted that in order to develop circular skills, circular mindsets must be nurtured already in schools and to achieve this, investments are required for suitable training material, teacher training and

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resource development. Furthermore, it is crucial to include the topic of sustainability in vocational education, higher education and training in companies.

Nurturing circular mindsets has been a main activity within the Circular Based Waste Management project. Partners have been working closely with local populations in their municipalities and particularly with schools creating activities involving children and teachers that aim to teach about circular practices in waste sorting in a practical manner. Details on activities can be found on the news section of the project website.

One example of these, includes a creative competition where children and youth were invited to submit drawings and videos on the theme “Let’s keep out City clean!” which led up to a transnational round where citizens were invited to vote online for their favourite works submitted.

A notable activity by Paide Town Government, our partner from Estonia, was arranging for a cooperation between TalTech University and Paide Gymnasium, where gymnasium students took part in a course on Circular Economy. The gymnasium students worked in the labs with scientists and university students to create sustainable materials out of waste.

Our partners from Mažeikiai District Municipality and Telšiai Region Centre for Waste Management, Lithuania, have been organising a range of events and lectures around the topic of waste sorting where children and youth have been learning and afterwards applying practically their knowledge on waste sorting through games. More recently, Mažeikiai District Municipality arranged for a group of teachers to travel to Norway to learn about organization of bulk waste collection, sorting, handling and reuse of items, the involvement of schoolchildren and the importance of education in the waste management system.

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In another example, our partner from Ukraine, the Department of Infrastructure of Sumy City Council organized a lecture-discussion “ZeroWaste Lifestyle” for students of Sumy city universities.

The above activities are all stepping stones towards developing circular economy thinking in the local populations, youth and children of the municipalities we are working with. They aim to do so by engaging them directly and practically in circular based waste management practices that they can both apply in their daily lives but also shape their thinking for the future.

Circular Based Waste Management Project

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What balances more on the skills agenda for young NEETs?

Today, in a world with an evergrowing number of professions, people need to constantly keep investing in becoming their better selves, being able to meet the demands of a new labour market and an evolving style of communication, which accelerates the process of gaining innovative skills. As Europe continues to bravely address these challenges, it has been acknowledged that successful outcomes are the result of joint action and collaboration between individuals and entities, to fill in the gaps and create value for one’s self, the society, as well as the economy.

The European Year of Skills

Throughout 2023, the European Commission will encourage a more sustainable and inclusive professional growth, with focus on training, upskilling and matching the companies’ needs with people’s aspirations, as declared by President Ursula von der Leyen. In the European Year of Skills, SEPAL PRO will align its agenda to help achieve these goals, offering support to 300 NEETs, aged 18 to 29, to validate their competencies and find a job. During the first two years of implementation, the 5 partners from Romania, Spain, Lithuania, Greece and Poland, have realized that a successful on-the-job training requires special attention for the development of both soft and hard skills. It has been observed,

though, that the lack of soft skills has generated unexpected impediments in finishing the apprenticeship stages.

As a consequence, SEPAL PRO’s consortium highlights the need to invest more in young NEETs’ training in this sector, providing them with a package of social and interpersonal skills, attributes and abilities, that will enhance their chances of collaborating better within the work environment, resulting in thriving performances and career advancements.

Training for Coaches & Mentors

If we were to create a list of today’s missing softs skills based on our prior experience, adaptability would be placed among the first. The incapacity to mould in a new workplace at first, is one of the major triggers for giving up and heading towards a state of self-insufficiency and low motivation.

To help combat this issue, SEPAL PRO aims at extending the mentoring and enlarging the number of WISE specialists and coaches working with young NEETs, providing them with the support needed to overcome difficult situations and integrate on the labour market. So far, mentors and coaches from the above mentioned countries, have participated in two trainings, one in Szczecin (Poland) and one in Badalona (Spain), discussing various aspects related to soft skills.

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In order to improve their competencies first, and then be able to offer specilized services for young NEETs, SEPAL PRO mentors and coaches have debated the importance of communication as an inclusive tool. An analysis of the personal factors affecting this process has been completed, followed by a series of practical workshops on how to improve weak points and the quality of relations with others. Module 2 was designed to facilitate a more common understanding of how to work with vulnerable groups, whereas the 3rd part focused on using mentoring and coaching techniques, to motivate NEETs’ participation and engagement. In the end, the last presentations were also dedicated to emphasize the importance of learning hard skills, such as digital and standard tools.

We believe that the workshops and trainings that have been done up to this point have contributed not only to the development of these specific soft skills, but have also extended the learning horizon, with challenges that have stimulated the improvement of problem-solving, conflict

resolution, critical thinking, leadership, creativity, listening, timemanagement, teamwork, self-control and responsibility skills. With the help of the SEPAL PRO coaches & mentors that will work closely with young NEETs during their on-the-job stages within social enterprises, we’ll facilitate a smoother transition to the labour market, knowing that they will benefit from support whenever needed. Acting as mediators, these newlytrained experts will pass on their knowledge in the right contexts, working on specific issues one step at a time.

All in all, mentoring and coaching at the workplace are set to have a positive impact on the process of gaining soft skills this year, fostering an environment where critical thinking is encouraged, where active listening is seen as a form of naturally engaging in conversations, communication is at the heart of forming valuabe relationships, “teamwork makes the dream work”, responsibility gets the job done, and others more. Continue to invest in your training, keep your eyes open for opportunities and search for projects that have been specialy created to make the European Year of Skills, one of the best so far, for you!

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Best practices during the implementation of project LIKE “Life Investment is the Key to Employment”

The labor market is continually evolving due to factors such as technological advancements, demographic changes, and shifts in consumer behavior. As new technologies emerge, some jobs become obsolete, while new jobs requiring new skills are created. For example, the growth of e-commerce has led to an increased demand for workers with digital skills, while the decline of traditional brick-and-mortar retail stores has led to a decrease in demand for workers in that sector. Demographic changes, such as an aging population, can also impact the job market. As the population ages, there may be an increased demand for healthcare workers, while other industries may see a decline in demand. Additionally, shifts in consumer behavior, such as an increased focus on sustainability, can create new job opportunities in fields such as renewable energy and sustainable agriculture. Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated changes in the job market, particularly with the increased adoption of remote work and the growth of the gig economy. These changes have created new job opportunities and shifted the way work is performed, with a greater emphasis on digital skills and online communication.

As the job market continues to evolve, it is important for individuals to remain adaptable and develop new skills that align with emerging trends and job opportunities. This may require ongoing learning and upskilling, as well as an openness to new job opportunities and industries. Encouraging life skill development that are relevant to the labor market requirements has become a primary goal in the Hidden Likes Youth House.

Adapting to the dynamic changes in the labor market is too much of a challenge for unemployed youths with mental health problems who are often pushed to the margins of society and prevented from fully participating in it due to the lack of basic skills, or as a result of discrimination. In order to respond to changing market conditions, achieve

sustainable employment among NEETs with mental health problems and improve the effectiveness and success of the target group on the labor market , an innovative multidimensional methodology has been developed. The multidimensional program that is being applied in the Youth Houses "Hidden Likes" has become a successfully working system for integration of NEETs with mental health problems in the labor market and in society. The strength of the multidimensional model and the main reason for its success regarding the specifications of the particular target group is it’s multidimensional approach which works holistically in several directions. On one side it is directed towards the work with NEETs themselves and their families and close circle of people. On the other side the model is directed towards the employers’ sector and the society in order to reduce the stigma and to raise the awareness regarding the target group.

Best practices in working with NEETs which encourage social inclusion and development of life skills:

• Providing greater precision in performing an individual assessment of the needs of every unemployed youth with mental problems as well as identifying appropriate support measures in each individual case. This individualized approach can help address the unique needs and challenges of each individual, promote their well-being, and enhance their chances of successful employment.

• Providing therapeutic services, counseling and support for depression, anxiety, suicide risk, eating disorders, addictions, etc. Providing access to mental health services and support can help individuals manage their symptoms, improve their mental health and well-being, and enhance their ability to participate fully in their community and pursue their goals.

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• A range of social and practical skills that will integrate them socially, as well as help their inclusion in the labor market. Such activities include:

• Animal therapy;

• Art therapy;

• Sports activities (yoga, gym);

• Seminars promoting healthier lifestyles and personal growth.

Best practices in working with employers:

• Conducting information and anti-stigma campaigns among employers about the specifics of the target group. Young people with mental health problems face various challenges, including social isolation, stigma, and discrimination, which can negatively impact their well-being and quality of life. Feeling like an integral part of the community can help NEETs feel valued, connected, and supported. It can also promote a sense of belonging, self-esteem, and purpose.

• Creating an appropriate work culture and atmosphere, offering the opportunity to receive feedback and emotional support. Creating an appropriate atmosphere that promotes a positive and supportive environment can have a significant impact on the mental health and well-being of NEETs with mental health problems. Providing them opportunities to receive feedback and emotional support can help NEETs feel valued, supported, and motivated, which can lead to higher levels of motivation and engagement.

• Introducing a system for integrating NEETs with mental health issues on the labor market in the Hidden Likes Youth House that provides a safe environment for young people with mental health problems and their relatives.

NEETs with mental health problems, as a result of their participation in the activities in the Hidden Likes Youth House, have shown to develop a wide range of social and practical skills that help them integrate in the labor market and the society on the whole. They not only overcome the

lack of critical life skills, which is a significant barrier to finding employment, but also gain motivation, confidence and a desire for selfrealization and self-actualization that are essential qualities to have particularly in fields that are highly competitive.

LIKE Project

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Your best skills – Promoting your best practices during all those years together in the occasion of the European Year of Skills

On-going learning and skills for the future are an integral part of the StayOn project’s mission for a more inclusive, active and creative world. It coincides perfectly with European Year of Skills and its Agenda for sustainable competitiveness, social fairness and resilience whose objective is also to “ensure people have the skills they need to thrive” in a fast-moving labour market and even more importantly for sustainable development & a green and digital transition.

In line with the EU agenda, our project also acknowledges the importance of including everyone in lifelong learning by focusing on empowering disadvantaged youth in rural areas. Our trainings aim to help them build their skillset through improving their existing skills just as much as through training in new skills. Coaching, which is a vital part of the project, then supports the participants in having the courage to take the (newly) learned skills through training to the market and implement them in their life. Together, this equips them to find and benefit from more (job) opportunities as well as boosts their confidence and builds connections. It makes it easier to prepare them for not just the current but also the future market conditions and the potential changes in society. Or as the StayOn partnership vision states: Encourage & motivate & equip young people with soft and hard skills to achieve their professional goals.

Soft skills that we find vital for our project participants could be divided in four main groups or themes:

• overcoming challenges: problem solving, system thinking, critical thinking (value orientation), imagination;

• personal drive: proactiveness, self-management, self-esteem, selfawareness, self-efficacy;

• humanity: teamwork, relationship building, empathy, communication;

• learning: lifelong learning, digital literacy.

All of them are of considerable value on both personal and professional level, since they facilitate navigating the challenges and the complexity of the world just as much in life as in one’s occupation.

We also kept this motivation and our project’s aim in mind in the innovative gamification of personal development support. The chosen skills and types served us as a basis when creating a personal development tool, called The Shapers, in the form of cards, divided into four needs (imagination, focus, action, reflection) and activities (ice-breaker, inspiration, challenge, career coaching). They are being used by the StayOn coaches and are intended for sharpening and strengthening the players’ competences by offering them inspiring quotes, provoking questions and challenges. The purpose of the game is to help project participants with the desired personal development: address their career goals, aspirations, doubts and ideas & raise their motivation and grow their confidence to stay-on in their local communities and continue their career path there. The card game offers a stimulus and a dynamic that engages the participants to work on their skill set in a fun & structured way.

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In a world where change is the only constant, the ability to think, question and make sense of it is fundamental. For resolving any kind of issues, we require skills of problem solving and critical thinking; furthermore, systems thinking and imagination are gaining in importance with the growing complexity and connectedness of challenges we face. We need to be able to deeply understand them, explore their roots, their effect on our daily lives & lives of people in our community as well as their role on a wider scale. To solve them we believe it is crucial that we sharpen our capabilities of imagining alternative scenarios and use our creativity. How we used to see and manage things in the past might not be working as well in the present and even less in the future, so we have to be open to see many possibilities and be able to come up with new inventive solutions.

When we think about all these challenges, transformations and lack of stability, it is not hard to see that knowing how to manage our own personal determination and ambition comes in handy. That is why we also include the skills of proactiveness, self-management, self-esteem,

self-awareness and self-efficacy as critical for our youth’s future, even more so unfortunately when it comes to underprivileged groups. These skills consist of knowing how to identify one’s limits, but also how to go beyond the limits we believe we have, having the capability to motivate yourself to change and evolve, determine the steps to take and actually take them, and then stay motivated through difficult times. In short, to choose your path and follow it with a well-grounded confidence.

Just as significantly, soft skills, connected to our relationships with colleagues or just fellow human beings in general, are only growing in importance in recent years. Companies and organizations are more and more aware that investing in them benefits them greatly and are likewise looking for these skills in future employees. Teamwork, relationship building, empathy and overall communication skills are skills we need to be able to work together, make sure everybody gets their opportunity, listen to their contributions and build a better future together. Including different points of view and seizing everyone’s potential makes us stronger as an organization and as a society. These skills also address some of the rising cultural tensions by celebrating our diversity and collaboration. It is only together we can find and employ the best solutions in times of crisis as well as for a sustainable transition

Last but not least, we have already emphasised that a positive attitude towards lifelong learning, the willingness and a habit to learn, curiosity and flexibility are absolutely essential for future workers to remain competitive and to succeed, hence crucial for today’s youth and their resilience. Learning is a skill for life – the one that can enable and simplify all others. With the rapid advances in technology, digital literacy is a skill that keeps needing an update and is never fully gained, although it is, at the same time, much easier once we cover the basics and understand its logic. While the importance of formal education and certification is transforming in some fields, it is interesting to also keep in mind how personal passions and hobbies can contribute to young persons’ well-being and (in)directly build their skillsets. They balance their work-life balance, keep them open and positive, fuel their curiosity and very likely build their (inter)personal skills.

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Joining the skills of personal drive with those of humanity, dialogue and openness is a powerful and transformative combination for our youth’s success as well as a recipe for a healthier future society.

We do not just talk about these skills and their importance as project partners for our participants, we put them to work, practice and build them, too, as we work on the project’s mission and beyond. Therefore, to determine which skills are central for our target group, we put emphasis on the process of discussing and deciding itself as well. We included all partners and invited them to contribute their ideas, and created the final version together through partnership sharing and collaborating. That way, we ourselves actively engaged in an essential skill for a sustainable future - cooperation, which practices inclusive communication and empathy as well as feeds imagination with richness of diverse perspectives.

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Your best skills – Promoting your best practices during all those years together in the occasion of the European Year of Skills

The European Commission has designated 2023 as the European Year of Skills (EYS). The overall aim is to embed lifelong education and training in the EU while highlighting the major role of continuous learning in the society and the economy when considered not only on a country level but to a European one. The EYS programme focuses on developing a commitment to reskilling and upskilling in order to empower individuals and improve their employability, tackling this way labour shortages and at the same time it boosts the competitiveness of companies and especially SMEs. Through this Programme skills development is promoted as a tool to support social inclusion by prioritizing some target groups such as NEETs.

Stay – On project, funded by the EEA & Norway Grants Programme, strongly supports the EYS initiative. It aims at fostering youth empowerment to a direct target group of at least 1.100 NEETs, by providing adequate skills for the rural labour market, especially in traditional sectors, such as agriculture. Particular attention is given to digital skills, abilities to manage environmental impacts and personal development. The project responds to the objectives of the EYS programme through an innovative multi-stakeholder participation method. To achieve the set-out objectives, Stay – On project undertakes a series of interlinked activities that follow an amended version of the Community –Based Development Approach. Our approach initiates with the implementation of continuous life/career coaching support and a series of training courses on digital and environmental topics planned according to the local needs, aiming at the development of soft and hard skills, resulting in the formulation and collection of policy proposals. From a timeline perspective we have initiated the second iteration of the approach that will give us the opportunity to revisit ideas and critically reflect on their implications.

The approach has been successfully applied once in 5 implementing partner countries and a set of policy proposals have been collected while at the same time success stories have been created among our target group. For instance, Joana Rijo, a 26-year-old girl from Fenais da Luz in São Miguel Island. Right from the beginning, she showed her interest in starting her own business, but she still did not have her area of interest fully established. The participant said that she liked to work in shifts, but not as a waitress, which is why the coach suggested that she applies for rent-a-car and other tour companies. Joana structured a text to send by email to some companies and, under the supervision of the coach, shared her availability. Fifteen days after joining Stay – On, Joana had already received two job offers, one from a local rent-a-car company and the other from a tour guide company. Joana is now very happy as a tour guide. "It has allowed me to grow professionally", as she said to her coach.

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Paradigm shift in understanding “skills” - what AI can and cannot replace in youth work

Recent years have seen a paradigm shift in how the understanding and interpretation of skills are changing due to rapid technological advances. The advancement of artificial intelligence (AI) is leading to a major revolution in the way work is done across many industries.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is becoming increasingly sophisticated and, in many cases, replacing the need for traditional human labour. This advancement in AI opens up a whole new world of possibilities for how work is done across many industries. In the near future, many skills that are still highly valued today may be replaced by AI, however in some fields like youth work, human resources are likely to remain a necessity.

In youth work, empathy, ethics, attitude and other forms of soft skills are essential and will continue to be vital in the long-term. AI cannot provide these human qualities that a youth worker needs to foster an environment of trust and understanding, navigate intricate ethical situations, and more. Youth work is often powered by the positive relationship between a youth worker and youths and no AI can ever replace that.

Nevertheless, AI and automation can be extremely useful tools for youth workers. AI-based chat bots, for example, can be used to answer common questions and diagnose issues with consistency and accuracy. It can also be used to accurately store and analyse data, freeing up work time so youth workers can focus more on productive activities.

Another example where AI can be used to replace certain skills used in youth work is in service provision. AI can take over repetitive tasks usually handled by human workers. This can allow for near-instantaneous access to data processing as well as enable more precise and precise recommendations based on data.

In youth work, AI-based chat bots can also be a useful tool to learn more about the challenges that a young person might be facing. AI chat bots can be designed to accurately detect issues and offer solutions tailored to the situation. AI can be used to accurately store and analyse data, freeing up work time for youth workers so they can attend to other critical tasks.

Further, AI can also be used to automate mundane tasks such as filling out forms and writing reports, freeing up the need for these to be handled by a human worker. This allows a faster, more efficient and accurate service provision, and gives an opportunity for more data-driven decisions to be made.

AI also gives the opportunity to quickly process repetitive tasks and generate data-driven insights which can be used to better inform decision making. This could be beneficial in youth work, where having access to accurate and up-to-date information is essential.

In conclusion, AI is certainly making its way into many aspects of work, including youth work, however, when it comes to the more important elements of youth work, human resources are and will continue to be an essential part of the equation. While AI can be used to automate and streamline certain processes, it cannot replace the unique human qualities that are essential to youth work.

The aim of this article is to raise attention to how AI has already been gaining relevance and started the paradigm shift in skills in youth work –not only in its content but the fact that this article was written by AI (ChatGPT).

The article is the contribution of Eszter Kósa (BCI), from the Lost Millennials project

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YOUTHShare Project’s Skills Agenda: Promoting lifelong learning for being resilient in a post-covid employment era

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about a seismic shift in the way we live and work. The employment landscape has been significantly impacted, with job losses and furloughs becoming the norm in many industries. As we emerge from the pandemic, it is essential that we equip ourselves with the necessary skills to remain resilient in a post-COVID employment era.

One way to achieve this is by promoting lifelong learning. The concept of lifelong learning is not a new one, but it has gained greater significance in recent times. Lifelong learning is the continuous process of acquiring new knowledge, skills, and attitudes throughout one's life. It is an approach to learning that is not just limited to formal education but also encompasses informal and experiential learning. The European Year of Skills and the European Skills Agenda present an opportunity for organizations to promote lifelong learning while individuals, could take advantage of the opportunities presented by the European Year of Skills and the European Skills Agenda. Both outline the EU's goals for developing a future-ready workforce that can drive economic growth and innovation. The agenda sets out ten key actions to be taken by 2025, including improving the quality and relevance of education and training, supporting the upskilling and reskilling of workers, and encouraging investment in skills.

One way to do this is by taking advantage of the many resources and programs available through the EU, funded by the European Social Fund. Another important resource is the EU Skills Profile Tool, which allows individuals to identify and communicate their skills and qualifications to potential employers. But amongst them, is the work done by YOUTHShare TEC in 4 different countries funded by EEA grants. YOUTHShare TEC _GR, offer free of charge mentorship opportunities that can help individuals develop the skills required to thrive in a post-COVID work environment. These include career counselling and guidance services, which can help individuals identify areas of growth and develop a plan for

lifelong learning. But more than this, TEC can also connect job seekers with potential employers. This can help individuals find job opportunities that align with their skills and interests, and it can also help employers find qualified candidates who are ready to hit the ground running.

Through different ways of communication, TEC and NECS promote that lifelong learning can improve our overall well-being. Research has shown that learning new skills can boost our self-esteem, reduce stress, and enhance our cognitive function. It can also provide a sense of purpose and fulfillment, which is especially important in times of uncertainty.

Finally, as organizations and employers, it is important to recognize the value of promoting lifelong learning and skills development among our employees. By investing in our employees' skills and abilities, we can create a more resilient and future-ready workforce that can adapt to the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century.

In conclusion, the European Year of Skills and the European Skills Agenda provide an important opportunity for individuals and organizations to promote lifelong learning and skills development. By taking advantage of the resources and programs available, promoting our own best practices and skills, and investing in our employees, we can build a more adaptable, resilient, and future-ready workforce that can drive economic growth and innovation.

https://ec.europa.eu/social/main.jsp?catId=1223&langId=en

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Re-skilling and up-skilling. Factors of asymmetric human capital distribution in the EU regions

The “Agenda for Skills” (EC, 2016), the new “Agenda for Skills for Sustainable Competitiveness, Social Justice and Resilience” (EC, 2020), and the proclamation of 2023 as the European Year of Skills, all constitute reflections of the great importance of skills for policymakers in the EU. In these documents, the European Commission sets ambitious goals for upskilling (i.e., upgrading existing skills) and re-skilling (i.e., providing new skills), with an implementation horizon of 2025. On a broader note, the EU aspires to guarantee access to ongoing education and lifelong learning across all its regions, including remote and rural areas. In this sense, the European Commission’s current policy toolkit reflects the basic principle, that, not only people who invest in education and training improve their skills and competencies are paid off in the long run, but also that an improved human capital skills-wise can decisively contribute to macroeconomic growth. However, as indicated in the relevant literature, investing in skill development does not always carve a path to prosperity for individuals, nor does necessarily lead to economic growth. For one, the diffusion of knowledge is asymmetric across regions and not equally available to all economic actors. At the same time, a good part of the highskilled labour force is employed in jobs that do not make full use of their skill set (Sala, 2011; McGuiness et al., 2018; Brunello and Wruuck, 2021).

Our research on skill supply and demand across the EU regions showed that the distribution of human capital stems from a series of parameters, including the national and regional economic dynamism, the composition of local industrial structures, urbanisation levels, local institutional structures and practices, and population dynamics. Regarding the first, countries with robust economies occupy a more favourable position within global value chains, which translates in them hosting high value-added activities. Regions across such favourable zones develop knowledgeintensive sectors, strengthening their industrial structure. The above directly lead to an increased demand for a high-skill workforce. At the same time, dynamic metropolitan areas within urbanised regions not only

develop economies of scale around niche technologies, but they also constitute attractive environments for a high skilled and creative labour force (Florida et al., 2008). Thus, both demand for and supply of highly trained workforce increases. In contrast, peripheral regions are mostly left out of any spill-over effects, while they are also linked with weaker institutions and governance efficiency. Limited labour and lifelong education opportunities therein lead – among other things – to greater mismatches between the education level of the workforce and the skill demand in the labour market, as our research highlighted. Finally, demographics directly shape the geography of skills: new technologies render the skill set of older workers obsolete, with these cohorts having lost their incentive to retrain (McGuiness et al., 2018). Thus, the weight of meeting skill demand falls upon the shoulders of those entering the labour market (Cedefop, 2015), who, amidst intense competition, have to see their training as a “defensive necessity for protecting [their] place in the job queue” (Sala, 2011).

In conclusion, our research highlights the need for a series actions, which align with the new EU Skills Agenda. First, the collaboration between educational institutions and industry stakeholders is crucial in disseminating innovation. Second, social partners have to participate more actively in labour market forecasting, which can identify skill shortages and trends early on. Last, the development of green skills is an absolute priority considering the need for an energy transition; should the development of such skills is achieved, it will create a generation of climate-, environmentand health-conscious professionals, which can ultimately benefit both the economy and workers.

References

Brunello, G. and Wruuck, P., 2021. Skill shortages and skill mismatch: A review of the literature. Journal of Economic Surveys, 35(4), pp.1145-1167.

Becker G: Human Capital. 2nd edition. Columbia University Press, New York; 1964.

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Cedefop, 2015. Skills, qualifications and jobs: the making of a perfect match? Evidence from Cedefop’s European skills and jobs survey. Luxembourg: Publications O ffi ce. Cedefop reference series; No 103. Retrieved from www.cedefop.europa.eu/files/3072_en.pdf

European Commission (EC), 2016. A New Skills Agenda for Europe Retrieved from https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?

uri=CELEX%3A52016DC0381

European Commission (EC), 2020. European Skills Agenda. Retrieved from https://ec.europa.eu/migrant-integration/sites/default/files/2020-07/ SkillsAgenda.pdf

Florida, R., Mellander C., and Stolarick K. 2008 Inside the black box of regional development—human capital, the creative class and tolerance. Journal of economic geography 8, no. 5 (2008): 615-649.

McGuinness, S., Pouliakas, K. and Redmond, P., 2018. Skills mismatch: Concepts, measurement and policy approaches. Journal of Economic Surveys, 32(4), pp.985-1015

Sala, G., 2011. Approaches to skills mismatch in the labour market: A literature review. Papers: revista de sociologia, 96(4), pp.1025-1045.

Effie Emmanouil and Kostas Gourzis, YOUTHShare Project, Department of Geography, University of the Aegean, Greece YOUTHShare

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Project

The highest YOUTHShare skills are developed through educational materials, a mentoring programme and internships. The education has been part of the training provided by YOUTHShare and through the training the project has provided the opportunity to explore and develop social and solidarity economy skills, IT skills in the sharing economy and web-based economy, skills in resilient sectors and soft skills. All these competences contribute to the development of employability skills of the NEETs involved in the trainings. Other competences developed were teamwork, creativity, cooperation, etc.

In addition, the Mentoring Support Programme in Cyprus was organised by Neapolis Paphos University and supported by the YOUTHShare Cyprus Transnational Employment Centre. The established "Mentoring Support Programme" was an opportunity for NEETs to share with mentors and other participants their ideas and entrepreneurial vision, to join initiatives of other NEETs in Cyprus and/or abroad and to become members of a Cooperative, participate in new seminars on topics of their choice, and be fully supported to implement any of the above by a team of mentors who will help NEETs to cope and overcome the difficulties they will encounter in practice. The skills developed of entrepreneurship,which means the process of creating and implementing a new idea and aims to create synergies, promotes a sense of achievement and strengthened ways of working.

Another part of YOUTHShare is the internship that took place in all partner countries. In Cyprus, migrants and non-migrants NEETs participated in internships and had the opportunity to gain experience in the workplace. Participants improved their knowledge, communication skills, but most importantly gained confidence to apply for future jobs. Furthermore, the

importance of the internship experience lies in the opportunity given to migrants to integrate into the workplace and employers to give NEETs an opportunity to share and/or improve skills, knowledge and career paths through the project.

YOUTHShare Project

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Foteini Sokratous, KAM OF Youth Employment Center Cyprus, YOUTHShare Project
Regional Funds Online Magazine
Your best skills – Promoting your best practices during all those years together in the occasion of the European Year of Skills + European Skills Agenda: which could be your Project’s Skills Agenda?

The RAISE Youth project and the European Year of Skills in Extremadura. Planning, efforts and outcomes

The year 2023 marks the European Year of Skills where the European Commission, together with the European Parliament, Member States, social partners, public and private employment services, chambers of commerce and industry, education and training providers, workers and companies aim to help companies and the private sector to address skills shortages in the European territories by promoting a mindset of reskilling and upskilling and by helping people to get the right skills for quality jobs.

This initiative’s philosophy is intimately related to the RAISE Youth approach. As stated in the project proposal, the aim of the RASIE Youth project is to contribute to providing decent and productive work for youth through social innovation in rural areas of the member of the consortium (Bulgaria, Croatia, Romania and Spain) by promoting the idea of entrepreneurship among young people in the territories, by finding what motivates them, what are their skills and by accompanying them in the creation of new business that follow the principles of sustainable and circular development.

Focusing on the work being done in the Extremadura, the main focus of the team of the Scientific and Technological Park of Extremadura has been the development of different network of collaboration between key stakeholders in the territories that work rural NEETs from all of the region, the launch of different trainings, including a brand new methodology that detail the processes of preincubation and incubation of business ideas, as well as how to manage the spaces to create the correct environment to foster the creation of innovative business and even how to celebrate different event that help the participant focus and address problems and difficulties in a collaborative way. In short, we can summarize the work done so far in Extremadura by the team of FUNDECYT-PCTEX as an effort to improve the capacity building of the whole region in the fields pertaining

to the RAISE Youth project: agroecology, tourism and agritourism, digitalization and sustainable development.

During this year 2023, several efforts pertaining the training and development of skill and capacities of young NEETs in Extremadura has been made. With the launch of the second edition of the CREA RAISE Youth programme, a training and mentorship programme where specialists will accompany young NEETs in the process of ideating their business ideas, pilot them and give them technical training and help on issues they might find along the process of founding and consolidating their business. Also, as a mean of building on the capacity of digitalization, a pending subject in the region, FUNDECYT has also launched the RAISE Youth Digital Toolbox, a No-Code digital platform that hosts a wide variety of digital tools and resources that aim to help the users to develop their digital skills and have access to professional tools to improve their own business initiatives and ideas.

Going forward with the development of skills and competences, In the following months a new series of trainings will be launched to support young people that want or are currently working in the primary sector. These trainings fall under the framework building of agroecology capacities for young NEETs, as their main goal is to improve the skills of young people and incorporate sustainable innovation in agricultural and livestock activities, while offering the rural environment as a job opportunity and settlement for the young population, encouraging generational change in the primary sector and incorporating that sustainability component from an integral point of view.

To sum up, the European Year of Skills is an outstanding opportunity to start implementing activities that improve the skills and capacities of

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young people from all Member States. With careful planning and well invested effort, we can achieve great things and improve the lives and prospect of all young people in Europe and create a better Europe for them to live in.

RAISE Youth Project

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Cowork4YOUTH: Which skills are necessary for the project’s implementation

about it, is that while these skills require a certain level of knowledge to be based on, in essence they are not things that you can plainly read about and apply this knowledge. Experience from the field is by far the most important factor.

- Transnational and trans-organizational cooperation

Magazine that requires some introspection. Even though at a first glance this seems more like a self-advertisement exercise, when you start thinking about what this article would say, you suddenly remember that spending some time reflecting on your own actions can be quite beneficial.

The skills that we use when we are performing a particular work is indeed an excellent example of things that we are not exactly conscious of: Indeed, we spend time in the school, the university and other training activities and develop particular skills; but when you are engaged in a task you are very rarely aware of what are the things you had learnt that you make use of, and how they are combined. Some that seemed of utter importance are sometimes dismissed, while others that were considered trivial, become absolutely crucial. Apparently, this is a significant difference between theoretical training and practice; and as such, very often a source of stress and confusion for the young people entering the labour market.

Trying to understand which are the specific skills that are necessary for our work in the Cowork4YOUTH project and we could not reach the project’s objectives without them, we identified four of them. What is interesting

As a transnational project the necessity of being able to cooperate with people from other countries and organizations is quite obvious. Nevertheless, it is not always a given. The management of such initiatives also requires some special handling. Organizations based on different countries are characterized by different cultures and follow different practices. It takes some agility to leave aside the norms under which your everyday work is designed and adjust to the needs of a project with several people that are also used to different ways of doing things.

- From the general to the specific

The manifestation of the European youth employment policies on a regional level is a central concept for the research and the analysis that is conducted in Cowork4YOUTH. In our attempt to illuminate the issue of NEETs and suggest solution in specific kind of regions (tourism dependent and in energy transition, in non-metropolitan areas) we need to understand how the EU policy in the field is implemented on the local level and why it does in that particular way. It is perceivable that very often the EU policies provide only general guidelines and cannot anticipate the difficulties posed by the special conditions of each single region. It is part of the researcher’s work then to grasp and illustrate how a single policy is manifested in different cases.

- Seeing behind the numbers

The analysis performed in the project combines both quantitative and qualitative elements. In fact, in many cases our researchers need to work with large databases.

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For reaching meaningful conclusions however, especially when examining social issues such as those concerning the NEETs, it is important to not lose focus from the real-life aspect of the analysis. This is an important skill for the emerging profession of data scientists as well.

- Communicating with multiple audiences

It goes without saying that no matter how good is the produced work, if you do not communicate it correctly, it will be impossible to achieve your goals; and in the case of our project communication present a special challenge: the knowledge produced by the research and the policy analysis needs to reach multiple audiences. First, our paper outputs as well as the Cowork4YOUTH observatory are of course addressed to the research community. Second, the policy recommendations have to reach the regional or national decision makers. Last but not least, it is important for achieving our goals, and increasing the chances of having an impact both in present time as well as in the future, that the project gets as recognition as possible from the public. This special requirement of addressing to different target groups, sometimes leads to the creation of different messages and the use of different channels; in other times it is necessary to create one message that can speak to more than one target groups. Talent and training sometimes can answer such questions; deciding the best option in each case and forming the right message is a skill takes time to master.

Stay connected with us through our social media: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn: @Cowork4YOUTH, and visit our website https://www.cowork4youth.org/

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Cowork4YOUTH Project

Identifying skills: Cowork4YOUTH’s approach

Unlike the many projects of the Fund for Youth Employment family that provide direct support to young people and especially NEETs in the form of training, coaching and mentoring (such as, for example YES!, YOUTHShare, SEPAL, StayOn), our work in Cowork4YOUTH is basically performed behind the scenes. As a research & analysis project we do not target specific individuals, nor promote a specific set of skills. When it comes to the NEETs affected, our contribution is rather indirect, consisting in identifying the skills that should be targeted, and the ways (the policies) that can promote this goal.

Our research and policy outputs that focus on skills such as the “Transnational Report on NEETs, skills gap and employment policies in peripheral European Countries”; the “Review paper on state-of-the-art of living wage & re-/ up-skilling policies for NEETs”; and the “Policy recommendations addressing skills gap and brain drain” serve exactly this purpose. In essence, our skills agenda is defined by the conclusions of these works.

The full image will be completed by the end of the year; nevertheless, the ongoing work is already revealing some very interesting facts that show how such an agenda can be constructed.

For instance, the aforementioned Transnational Report (1) includes a detailed comparative analysis on the skills that NEETs and employed youth have developed and used in the four countries that Cowork4YOUTH focuses on (Greece, Ireland, Italy and Spain). Confirming the notion of the significance of digital skills in our era, and the attention paid to digital transition, Managing and analysing digital data emerges as a skill which NEETs lack in a great degree compared to their employed counterparts, in all four countries.

Other fields with a striking gap between NEETs and employed youth concern developing solutions to problems; making decisions; goal setting; and coordinating activities with others. It is evident that this set of soft skills are highly connected with practical working experience in positions that provide the employee some space for initiative. This observation can be important when one tries to find ways to improve NEETs employability. Improving employability however, cannot have the desired results in places where there are not enough employment opportunities.

Focusing on non-metropolitan regions in energy transition and regions that are highly dependent on tourism, Cowork4YOUTH also needs to identify how such regions can exploit their potential to offer good quality jobs to the local youth and especially the NEETs. To put it in another way, the question could be “How can the particular regional economies grow in line with European and global developments”.

Under this scope, it is vital that regions support job creation, especially in sectors that may still not be that developed in the local ecosystem. And

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the Youth, with their creative potential can be a driving force for responding to this challenge. To exploit this potential it is crucial that the young develop innovation, entrepreneurial and networking skills. Through them they can build initiatives that fit the European and global socioeconomic trends such as the digital and green transition, and foster extroversion that is so much needed in such regions.

Stay connected with us through our social media: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn: @Cowork4YOUTH, and visit our website https://www.cowork4youth.org/

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Cowork4YOUTH Project

Skills Agenda and Cowork4YOUTH

Skills are undoubtedly the most valuable tool for a person, especially in the framework of not only securing, but also being successful in a job position. The importance of learning and training is not a new discovery. As the world keeps evolving and changing and as green and digital transitions have entered our lives, adjusting and keeping up to date with the corresponding, and not only, advances is a must nowadays.

The European Commission‘s Skills Agenda promotes sustainable competitiveness, resilience and social fairness. Before the world had the time to recover from the economic crisis, the COVID-19 arose with its overwhelming effects. The need to explore and take advantage of the technology further became fundamental in order to find our way through the crises.

So, what is the Agenda seeking? To enhance existing skills and provide training in new skills (upskllling-reskilling). And how are these goals being pursued? By promoting and ensuring that lifelong learning and training is available throughout European countries and regions, no matter their form, such as cities or rural areas.

The European Commission’s plan expands over 5 years, starting from 2020, and entails 12 actions. Skills are placed “at the heart of the EU policy agenda”, with both businesses and people benefiting from their enhancement. People will be more properly equipped to enter and remain active in the labour market, and businesses will employ trained and educated personnel, ensuring their success and sustainability, therefore securing their job positions. Let’s take a look at some of these actions:

• Strengthening skills intelligence, by registering and having access any time to “real-time” information on the demands on skills, by using big data analysis of job vacancies

• Rolling out the European Universities initiative and upskilling scientists, by “building long-term transnational alliances between higher education institutions”

• Skills to support the green and digital transitions, by promoting the development of a core set of skills and enhancing digital skills

• Increasing STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) graduates and fostering entrepreneurial and transversal skills, and specifically focusing on young women

• Skills for Life, where adult learning is supported on thematics like financial, health and environmental literacy.

At Cowork4YOUTH, our priorities are on enhancing the opportunities for young people, especially long-term unemployed and women, to find a job that is not defined by precariousness. Since skills are an important tool for achieving better work conditions, our project supports and closely follows these actions.

https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_20_1196

Stay connected with us through our social media: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn: @Cowork4YOUTH, and visit our website https://www.cowork4youth.org/

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Wingate Project – events! From the Projects

After the Gala ‘Women in Economy – Day by Day Heroes’, the Wingate Project shares with us the events organised.

How to be an Entrepreneur in Norway?

Digital event – 27th of March, 14 pm to 16 pm CET

Regional Cooperation Day

20th of April - Győr (Hungary)

Wingate Business Day

11th of May – Budapest

Here the link for details and registrations: https://wingateproject.com/event/wingatebusiness-day/

Save those dates, more events and new agendas coming soon!

Wingate Project

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EU-WATERRES team heading to one of the largest conferences for geoscientists in Europe: EGU2023

What insights will we bring there?

EU-WATERRES team will be represented by eight project members from Latvia, Estonia and Norway and seven diverse collaboration outcomes in form of 3 oral talks and 4 poster presentations. You can already access all abstracts. In case you will attend on-site or virtually you will easily find us by using the summary table in our homepage https://eu-waterres.eu/ 2023/03/08/eu-waterres-team-heading-to-one-of-the-largest-conferencesfor-geoscientists-in-europe-egu2023/

Why are we going there?

The European Geosciences Union (EGU) General Assembly is an annual conference held in Vienna, Austria, that brings together thousands of geoscientists from all over the world. The conference covers a broad range of topics in Earth, planetary, and space sciences, including climate, oceanography, seismology, volcanology, and geomorphology. However, it is also a significant event for experts in water and groundwater, who attend to present their latest research on hydrological processes, water quality, and other related topics. The conference offers numerous opportunities for attendees to present their work, attend talks and posters, network with other researchers, and participate in workshops, short courses, and special sessions. The EGU General Assembly is one of the largest and most prominent geoscience conferences in Europe, attracting experts from various fields to share their knowledge and insights.

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Figure 1. Typical look of a busy day on the EGU conference (photo Inga Retike) EU-WATERRES Project
Regional Funds Online Magazine

EU-WATERRES team published a new scientific article!

Latvia. With the automatization the frequency of groundwater level measurements expanded from a few times per year to a few times per day, giving the possibility to assess groundwater heads’ seasonality and daily variations. Yet, automatic loggers tend to malfunction, thus creating gaps and missing values that are not welcome for further analysis.

Gaps can be found in most time series, but there is a solution

A variety of methods exist how to infill gaps, including our tested machine learning approach. But the greatest challenge is to assess the imputation performance objectively. Here we present a new approach how to mimic gap patterns characteristic of the data set. The gap patterns are then introduced as artificial gaps to assess the imputation performance.

New challenges await

Our third article has been just published. This time we assessed groundwater level time series in the whole Baltics and proposed a new approach for a more objective assessment of gap-filling techniques. This has been a wonderful collaboration between the University of Latvia, Faculty of Geography and Earth Science partner, and Ezra Haaf from The Chalmers University of Technology from Sweden.

You can access the article here: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jhydrol. 2023.129424

Groundwater levels are a fundamental part of every hydrogeological study

Did you know that automatic groundwater level recordings in the Baltics started quite recently – 2005 for Lithuania and ~2011 for Estonia and

We discovered that the missForest imputation method can effectively infill a variety of gaps, even the challenging ones at the beginning and end of time series and around extremes, just using the rest of the level data set. However, we also discovered that unseen or untypical extremes are complex to infill – for example severe drought events in 2017, and 2018 and human-influenced times series, e.g., by water abstraction.

Read more about EU-WATERRES project here: https://eu-waterres.eu/

EU-WATERRES Project

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Anti-Corruption and National Security

resilience and anti-corruption responses by leading on economic security and democratic governance.

In order to provide a platform for cooperation for government and civil society representatives from Southeast Europe and their international peers, the Center for the Study of Democracy, in cooperation with the Bulgarian Ministry of Justice, Basel Institute on Governance, and Friedrich Ebert Foundation organized a policy forum under the anticorruption cohort of the Summit for Democracy in Sofia, Bulgaria on 21 March 2023. The participants presented the year of action achievements of the governments from the region and discussed the Action Agenda with the next steps in their anti-corruption efforts.

Implementing shared anti-corruption and good governance solutions in Southeast Europe: innovative practices and public-private partnerships Project

In order to provide a platform for cooperation for government and civil society representatives from Southeast Europe and their international peers, the Center for the Study of Democracy, in cooperation with the Bulgarian Ministry of Justice, Basel Institute on Governance, and Friedrich Ebert Foundation organized a policy forum under the anti-corruption cohort of the Summit for Democracy in Sofia, Bulgaria on 21 March 2023. The participants presented the year of action achievements of the govern.

Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and the resurgence of global authoritarian hybrid threats have focused the attention of the democratic community on the security implications of state capture and strategic corruption. Entrenched oligarchic networks have been stonewalling good governance reforms around the world, hampering democratization and fueling institutional distrust, political turmoil, inequality, and poverty. Southeast Europe has been among the most vulnerable regions in this respect. The EU and the US have sought to strengthen democratic

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Strengthening Anti-Corruption Policies through Public-Private Partnership

The workshop focused on the available methodologies and policies for detecting and sanctioning illicit enrichment and provided recommendations on how asset declarations could be used more effectively as a corruption prevention tool both in Southeast Europe and globally. The panelists emphasized that collective action could be used to raise and quickly resolve alerts about suspected bribery or unfair business practices. The workshop concluded with a discussion of the steps needed to upgrade existing anti-corruption policies and measures. The speakers highlighted the potential of public-private partnerships to support the development of new risk assessment methodologies, with a particular focus on strengthening internal anti-corruption measures in individual public bodies, ensuring public procurement integrity, and preventing illegal lobbying, as a way of safeguarding national security.

Following the Anti-Corruption and National Security policy forum, anticorruption institutions and civil society actors came together to exchange good practices and practical solutions for joint action. At an expert-level workshop held in Sofia on 21 March 2023, participants discussed how to implement the policy ideas agreed upon in the Democratic Cohort on Anticorruption Policies as a Guarantee for National Security, Stability, and Sovereignty under the Summit for Democracy.

Following the Anti-Corruption and National Security policy forum, anticorruption institutions and civil society actors came together to exchange good practices and practical solutions for joint action. At an expert-level workshop held in Sofia on 21 March 2023, participants discussed how to implement the policy ideas agreed upon in the Democratic Cohort on Anticorruption Policies as a Guarantee for National Security, Stability, and Sovereignty under the Summit for Democracy.

Implementing shared anti-corruption and good governance solutions in Southeast Europe: innovative practices and public-private partnerships Project

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StayOn WorldTea and Mind-Term Conference

attractive for young people in NEET situation, involving all the social, economic and institutional fabric.

The second day, 4 April, was the time for the conference, which had simultaneous translation, where the results of the first year of implementation of the StayOn project were presented and also where issues such as the impact and management of projects of this dimension were discussed in a round table format.

One of the highlights of the day was the presence of the young Ana Ferreira, Social Worker, and participant in the project in the year 2022. The audience included several members of the Regional Government of the Azores, as well as deputies, experts in youth issues and many, many young people. The public was also an active part, being able to participate in a voting system that helped prioritise the major themes identified to be part of public policies.

Over 100 people were together for a more inclusive, active and creative world! The International Conference and World Tea, of the StayOn project, took place on the island of São Miguel, Azores, at the Maia Tobacco Museum, with the aim of bringing to debate the issue of NEET young people and their settlement in the rural areas where they come from.

CRESAÇOR, the partner entity of the project and of the international consortium, responsible for the implementation of the StayOn project in Portugal, was the organiser of the event, supported by the other international partners from the 7 countries that compose the consortium: Greece, Slovenia, Germany, Italy, Poland and Ireland, along with Portugal.

On the first day of the event, the international consortium and some guests participated in the World Tea, with the methodological world café format, to discuss and share ideas on how we can make rural areas more

The third and last day of this event, took the whole team to the CRESAÇOR facilities, for a last meeting to discuss the conference outputs and also to define the next steps.

The project StayOn, which has as main objective to offer the necessary conditions to young people who are unemployed or not studying, so they can increase their skills and be successful. In the aftermath of what was the first big event of the project, we can end as we started: together for a more inclusive, active and creative world!

CRESACOR TEAM

www.stay-on.eu

IG: @stayon_project

FB: @stayonproject21

StayOn Project

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Interview with Miquel Carrión, deputy director of Youth Employment of the SOC (occupation service of Catalonia)

must add that, according to the EPA data, there are more than 70,000 young people of that age who are not registered in the SOC.

Therefore, if we agree that one of the main causes of high youth unemployment is early school dropout and, as a consequence, the low or null qualification of young people, the challenge is to promote professional qualification. This is undoubtedly the case when, on the other hand, companies, and certain sectors in particular, are currently having real difficulties in finding qualified personnel.

It seems that despite the reduction in recent years, youth unemployment is still a pending issue when compared to that of the most developed European countries. What are the causes? How do you think this challenge should be addressed?

The unemployment data are collinear to another data in which unfortunately we also stand out negatively at European level: early school dropouts, which are about 15%. I believe that this is the main cause. We have evidence that unqualified young people are not hired, especially if they are younger than 20 years old.

This past December, for example, there were about 25,000 young people under 25 years of age registered as unemployed and looking for work, 65% of whom lack post-compulsory education. And to this statistic we

The way to combat early school leavers and promote qualifications would be to deploy the whole battery of measures that are already known, but which have not yet been sufficiently implemented. Such as providing good guidance and accompaniment during ESO, seeking personalized and comprehensive attention and accompaniment for young people throughout their life transitions, promoting professional vocations in high demand, offering learning models that are less academic and more professionalizing, offering programs for new guidance and learning opportunities as consolidated pathways in the training offer and not as compensatory measures, or reinforcing the policy of scholarships and grants, among others.

It should not be forgotten that school dropout rates are also clearly correlated with social vulnerability, so any social policy will be an element that contributes to reducing youth unemployment.

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What is your assessment of the labor reform and its impact on youth employment?

I do not yet have a thoughtful analysis, but it is clear that it has improved stability. Last month, one third of young people under 25 years of age were hired under an open-ended contract, whereas a year ago this figure barely reached 10% of contracts.

However, we note that the types of contracts designed for young people have not yet been deployed as they should be, although they have been reformed. The alternating training contract and internship contracts are still token contracts, most probably because companies are not yet familiar with them. And they are crucial, the first because it is an excellent formula for offering dual training to young people who already have the skills to combine learning with work, and the second because it is the way to acquire a first professional experience in a market that is often the first thing they are asked to do. The SOC is promoting these modalities as never before, although there is still a long way to go.

Last year the SOC invested 125 million euros in subsidizing the hiring of unemployed young people under 30. What has been the impact of this investment?

The impact in terms of program execution is that, for the moment, contracts have been subsidized for more than 5,300 young people and companies. The question is whether this investment has led to the hiring of young people by companies that, without this aid, would not have hired. To this end, the SOC has planned a careful evaluation of this program to determine the extent to which this has happened, among other analyses.

It is well known that hiring subsidy policies have a high risk of incurring the so-called deadweight effect, which means that, in reality, the aid has not been a lever for deciding or conditioning hiring, but that hiring would have taken place anyway. However, it is also true that this risk is reduced in crisis contexts, an exception that AIREF’s own reports acknowledge. It should also be noted that this investment was designed in the midst of the pandemic, at a time of collapse that particularly affected certain sectors of

economic activity, and is therefore also conceived under a prism of economic reactivation and stimulus.

However, in this program, what we mentioned before, the lack of commitment to the internship hiring modality, was noted. This modality is positive by nature, since it is the way to offer a first work experience in what has been studied. Every young person who completes a CP, cycle or degree course should be able to access this modality, if they do not have the option of a better one.

Last year was the first time a dual training program was implemented within the framework of active employment policies. What is your assessment?

Extraordinary. In the edition of the FPODUAL program to be implemented during 2023, 95 projects have been awarded, which will involve the training and hiring of more than 1,300 young people in nearly 600 companies, essentially SMEs and micro-SMEs.

This program is being the driving force to extend training contracts in alternation (dual) for young people among small companies. Projects are being carried out in absolutely strategic sectors such as facilities, food industry, logistics, social and health care or forestry.

It is currently responding to young people who need a job and wish to obtain a qualification, to companies that need qualified personnel, and to sectors and territories that want to boost themselves.

Autoocupació’s claim is I am what I want to be. And you, are you?

I would say no. It’s like that phrase ‘there is no path, you make the path as you walk’, I would rather say that I am ‘under construction’. What I want to be is always a pending milestone. From a professional point of view, for example, the aspiration would be to be part of a public service model that successfully faces the challenges we have been discussing, and we still have work to do. YES!

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Project

A Friday morning brief: some considerations on our everyday work with the youth

Our daily work leads us to cross the lives of hundreds of young people.

Young people who are looking for their way in a universe of relationships, opportunities, conflicts and contradictions, hopes, illusions, very often a difficult reality of the job market in Italy.

We have met young people who are looking for work after a brilliant student career and who are now disappointed by weak job prospects and light-years away from their skills and expectations. Others with training courses interrupted for the most diverse reasons, who at best wish to set new energies in motion by seeking new training and job placement opportunities. Still others have lost the motivation towards any path and remain "suspended", wrapped in a feeling of uncertainty.

In recent years, the weakness of an adequate response to the serious situation of youth unemployment in Italy has turned into the embarrassment of placing all these young people, between 16 and 29 years old (in Italy up to 34) in the “NEET” category.

As if they were a uniform and well-defined universe, even the profile of an entire generation, given the vastness of the phenomenon: the NEET generation.

We often think about how we can make a better, more effective and more adequate contribution to the expectations of the young people we constantly dialogue with, throughout our days.

Among others, there are some aspects that we consider particularly relevant in this context:

• The importance of valuing local contexts and contextualizing the path of our beneficiaries in relation to the environment in which they live;

• Analysing all the family and social relationships of the young people we work with;

• Fully addressing the issue of the different economic, social and cultural geographies that make up our country, which is still so di ff erent inside its own, and with extremely diverse youth employment rates;

• Objectively assessing the reality of the fragmentation of the labour market in Italy, which leads to deep-rooted conditions of precariousness, which eventually translates into a widespread sense of vulnerability of our youth.

It is clear that such a complex and heterogeneous community cannot be supported in its needs by standard tools. On the contrary, we are increasingly aware of how important it is to find paths dedicated to each and every one, customized ways, characterized by high flexibility. The coaching activity must necessarily include aspects relating to the search for motivation and the strengthening of confidence, even before orientation, training and job-search advice. And this will have to be a work of proximity, closeness and free from the traditional bureaucracies of institutional services. A creative work too. To ensure that young people first gain confidence in those who are serving them.

There is a need for innovation and great dedication to bring out the enormous potential of youth, so that it translates into new positive energy, not only as a contribution to the development of our local economies, but also as a cultural engine for our country.

Davide Libralesso, Microfinanza

YES! Project

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Blue Generation Project updates

Study Visit in Greece

24 College students from Greece interested in “Shipping and Shipping related industries” attended the 3-day study visit in Athens. The visit was organized by HELMEPA and MILITOS and included theoretical training, practical case studies on HELMEPA’s Bridge Simulator and a visit at the premises of a well-established Greek shipping company, where students receiving mentorship from high level staff. All attendees received certifications.

International Training Course

32 youth from Bulgaria, Poland, Portugal, Romania, and Spain participated in the 5-day International Training Course in “Shipping and Shipping Related Industries”, delivered by HELMEPA. They course consisted of theoretical training and practical case studies on HELMEPA’s Bridge Simulator combined with active mentorship sessions. It was widely appreciated by the participants according to their assessment. All attended received certifications.

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Blue Generation Project
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SEPAL Project’s second coaches training, organised in Badalona

Fundación Privada Pere Closa hosted the 2nd coaches training which was held from the 27th to the 31st of March 2023, in Badalona Spain.

During five days, 15 professionals - WISE experts and coaches, participated in the coaches training, representing the SEPAL Pro project partner organisations. The dynamics, workshops and experiences of the experts allowed for a well-rounded and complete interactive learning experience.

During the first day, the colleagues from KOMES Foundation (Poland) presented the first module related to: Communicationpersonal factors influencing communication, with representatives of NEETspractical workshops. The key issues were in linked with:

The second day was conducted by representatives of KoiSPE Diadromes (Greece) presenting the second module referring to the work with vulnerable groups, namely:

• Presentation of 3 Social Cooperatives of Limited Liability in Greece. Disability, job opportunities and Supporting Employment Services.

• "The Social Impact of the Ecological Cleaning Methods. Environmental benefits and Work Integration".

• "Establishing Mental Health as a Means of Establishing a Healthy Working Environment".

• A presentation on how cultivating resilience for the individual, can help alleviate stress, prevent depression, deny vocational bullying and generate a healthy experience in the workplace.

• Culture Labs: Offering alternatives for high skilled members (people with disabilities).

• Personal factor influencing communication, in particular with representatives of NEETs.

• Self-diagnosis of the individual style of communication and action.

• Discussion of individual styles, their strengths and areas for work. Influence of the individual style of communication and actions on the quality of relations with others, including NEET representatives.

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At the end of the day, Fundación Privada Pere Closa, organized a study visit to the Fundación Formació i Treball whose mission is to facilitate access to the labour market for people at risk of social exclusion while managing and dignifying the delivery of essential products to families with limited financial resources. They presented us with their approaches and best practices of youth labour insertion.

The third day, ZISPB’s (Lithuania) experts presented the fourth module related to the evaluation of competencies.

• Workshop: The process of Evaluation. Woking Skills and Soft Skills

• Workshop: Performance-based Approach of Evaluation and the other Methods. Self-assessment and Evaluation. Newspaper theatre method

• Workshop: Pre- and post- Testing and the Certification of Acquired Skills. Best practices.

During the fourth day Fundacio Privada Pere Closa, organised another study visit in Can Batlló. The project as a public-community-cooperative, management model of Block 4; and the type of services offered from Coòpolis, as well as the anti-racist perspective that we incorporate from the “Cercle of migrations”, was presented by Luz Elena, as the coordinator of the entity. She took the professionals a tour of Can Batlló, briefly explained the history of the neighbourhood and community struggle.

And during the last day, LP. Bucovina Institute´s experts, presented the digital and standardised tools, consisting of:

• Presentation of the Bucovina Institute and the experience of our coaches on working with NEETs.

• Accessing the SEPAL Pro platform. Changes and new features.

• Workshop: Attractive digital learning and teaching tools.

• Presenting useful digital tools that makes working with NEETs more attractive and engaging.

• Digital tools for communication and marketing: Introduction to CANVA. (Creating digital cards).

At the end of the session, Fundación Privada Pere Closa, made the closing remarks and gave to each participant the respective certification.

As we well-know, the aim of SEPAL is to make use of its expertise from the side of its professionals to guarantee an improvement regarding the labour market insertion of the NEETs and shall carry on doing so to achieve the highest degree of quality and representation of those who need it the most.

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SEPAL Pro Project

Let’s NEET together! #8 bringing together professionals from Catalonia, working in the field of youth employment

as identify the next steps/initiatives that improve the skills of young people to guarantee their rights in terms of improvement in employability.

With this aim in mind, we invited 4 professionals with a lot of experience in this field of work that could give us incentives in the right direction. These professionals were the following:

• Sandra Heredia, Responsible of the “Plan Integral del Pueblo Gitano”, Department of Social Rights, Generalitat of Catalonia

• Sara Casas Torrens, Coordinator of the Programme for Youngsters, “Dirección de Ocupabilidad Inclusiva i Formación”, Barcelona Activa, City Hall of Barcelona

• Jaume Puigpinós, Responsable of “Internacionalización y Agenda Europea a la Taula del Tercer Sector”

• Laia Navarro Herràndiz, Technician CNO Maresme-Vallès, Centre of “Nuevas Oportunidades” Maresme-Vallès

On the 7th of February, Fundación Privada Pere Closa organized the webinar, ”Let´s NEET Together!”, where more than 50 participants shared with us this useful space. Several professionals working in the field of social and labour inclusion in favour of vulnerable groups (migrants, the Roma community, and other contexts of cultural diversity) came together in this Zoom meeting to present the main results and challenges faced in their projects and programmes in Catalonia.

The purpose was to share good practices that, through learning and skills training, have helped to improve youth employability in Catalonia as well

This meeting was an opportunity to come together with different professionals working towards the social and labour inclusion of vulnerable groups such as the Roma community and other ethnic minorities and have the chance to share perspectives, challenges, and feedback for further improvement. More importantly, one of our main aims is to continue this hard work, therefore, coming together and discussing as a team was a way to continue this joint effort in the promotions of rights regarding employability and thus create a more equal and inclusive world.

Moreover, what marks this occasion as especially important is the fact that this year, 2023, is the European Year of Skills which focuses on the importance of the development of competencies with the aim to leave no

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one behind while driving Europe's path to recovery. Therefore, we took this opportunity to come together and remind not only ourselves but society that having the relevant skills is so important because it empowers people to successfully navigate changes in the labour market and fully participate in society and democracy.

SEPAL Project

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Let's NEET Together #9: Insights into Social Entrepreneurship, Workplace Inclusion, and Employment of People with Disabilities

The event offered an opportunity for participants to learn about innovative approaches to tackling social issues and promoting social entrepreneurship, workplace inclusion, and employment of people with disabilities. The discussions focused on the challenges and opportunities in these fields, as well as the importance of collaboration between different stakeholders. One of the key takeaways from the event was the importance of involving young people in social entrepreneurship and providing them with opportunities to develop their skills and contribute to their communities. The speakers emphasized the need for support from policymakers, educators, and employers to create a conducive environment for social entrepreneurship and workplace inclusion.

Overall, the "Let's NEET Together" event provided valuable insights and inspiration for professionals and stakeholders interested in promoting social entrepreneurship, workplace inclusion, and employment of people with disabilities. The discussions highlighted the potential of these fields to create a positive social impact and improve the lives of individuals and communities.

The "Let's NEET Together" event brought together experts in social entrepreneurship, workplace inclusion, and employment of people with disabilities to share their experiences and insights. The keynote speakers included Jurgita Kuprytė, the Head of the NGO SOPA, who shared her experience with involving young people (NEETs) in social entrepreneurship and the DUOday initiative; Viktorija Bražiūnaitė, the Director of the Lithuanian Social Enterprise Association, who discussed successful experiences of employing people experiencing workplace exclusion; and Neringa Paulauskienė, the Head of private company Indoma, who shared her valuable experience of employing people with disabilities.

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RAISE Youth Achievements - More than 3000 NEETs benefited from the RAISE Youth project

Since the start of the project implementation NEETs have been informed about the project and invited to participate in the project activities through the outreach campaigns and public events. Events promoting the project, as well as informing the target group and stakeholders were organized across the partnering countries. Extensive survey was conducted among the rural NEET population followed by the face to face interview and focus groups. Besides the big outreach events, the RAISE team organized separate project presentations in rural municipalities with the support of the local authorities and different institutions.

RAISE Youth - Rural Action for Innovative and Sustainable Entrepreneurship for Youth is a project funded by the EEA and Norway Grants Fund for Youth Employment and implemented in the period from September 2018 to September 2023.

The main objective of the project is to contribute to providing decent and productive work for youth through social innovation in rural areas of 4 EU countries: Bulgaria, Croatia, Romania and Spain. The project pilots and promotes an innovative RAISE Model of (self)employment, for NEETs based on sustainable agri-business in rural regions with high unemployment rates and depopulation.

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In Bulgaria and Romania, pilot regions selected for NEET identification are rural communities with a high percentage of Roma population. In this areas, Roma community representatives were of significant value in reaching the targeted group for an adapted program given the age group whereby they have already established families with several children and overall low education levels.

In identifying the young unemployed persons the new media tools played an important role – The official RAISE outreach video was distributed across different media channels, public was informed about the project through several social media channels both official and from partners (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter), activities were supported by the local and national web portals as well as several local and national televisions.

By the end of 2021., the target group value for NEETs identified and motivated for participation in the RAISE Youth project set at 4000 was reached and surpassed. However, the activity of NEET identification and outreach is ongoing and NEETs are still being introduced to the project. The total number of NEETs that actively participated in trainings and other project activities since the start of the project implementation is 3187 out of which 63% women.

By April 2023, 2584 NEETs have been enrolled in education and training, including work-based learning while 523 NEETs joined the mentoring program in the RAISE centers, apprenticeships and/or mobility schemes. Number of (self)employed NEETs reached 651 and 136 project participants went through the process of starting their own business.

In the second half of the project implementation period the RAISE team networked with local entrepreneurs as an important component of RAISE business model sustainability and as employers and supporters of former NEETs. Successful connections to the total of 128 entrepreneurs have been made by the RAISE team in Bulgaria and Croatia.

Showcasing these numbers, we can conclude that for the past 4+ years, RAISE Youth team has reached and surpassed almost all of the target values. For this reason and in line with the project plan, in 2023 the project will focus on sustainability and qualitative achievements which will enable project objectives and methodology to transfer and develop after the end of the project implementation period.

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Contributors & Credits

CONTRIBUTORS

From the Fund Operators

Mateusz Wiśniewski

Francesca Bombarda

Sara Barbi

External Contributors

Thomas Mc Grath

Maria Pia Napoletano

Anastasia Papapetrou

From the Projects

Veleučilište u Požegi

Maritsa Kissamitaki

Bucovina Institute

BB team

Rezos Brands

Aimilia Markaki

Effie Emmanouil

Kostas Gourzis

Foteini Sokratous

CRESACOR TEAM

Davide Libralesso

ZISPB

Christos Papadopoulos

Maritsa Kissamitaki

Kristina Barać Petrović

Alina Adomnicăi

Alexandru Petre

Monika Peter Tzvetkova

Laura Pacareu Flotats

Saroukou Anna

Anastasia Vlachou

Savvas Pavlidis

Marieta Ivanova

Inga Retike

Tanja Dimitrijević

Kata Pátka-Szitter

Silvia Bernardo

DIRECTOR

Gian Luca Bombarda

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Cover

Articles inside

RAISE Youth Achievements - More than 3000 NEETs benefited from the RAISE Youth project

2min
pages 58-59

Let's NEET Together #9: Insights into Social Entrepreneurship, Workplace Inclusion, and Employment of People with Disabilities

1min
page 57

Let’s NEET together! #8 bringing together professionals from Catalonia, working in the field of youth employment

1min
pages 55-56

SEPAL Project’s second coaches training, organised in Badalona

2min
pages 53-54

Blue Generation Project updates

1min
page 52

A Friday morning brief: some considerations on our everyday work with the youth

2min
page 51

Interview with Miquel Carrión, deputy director of Youth Employment of the SOC (occupation service of Catalonia)

4min
pages 49-50

StayOn WorldTea and Mind-Term Conference

1min
pages 47-48

Strengthening Anti-Corruption Policies through Public-Private Partnership

1min
page 46

Anti-Corruption and National Security

1min
page 45

EU-WATERRES team published a new scientific article!

1min
page 44

EU-WATERRES team heading to one of the largest conferences for geoscientists in Europe: EGU2023

1min
page 43

Skills Agenda and Cowork4YOUTH

1min
page 41

Identifying skills: Cowork4YOUTH’s approach

2min
pages 39-40

Cowork4YOUTH: Which skills are necessary for the project’s implementation

3min
pages 37-38

The RAISE Youth project and the European Year of Skills in Extremadura. Planning, efforts and outcomes

2min
pages 35-36

Re-skilling and up-skilling. Factors of asymmetric human capital distribution in the EU regions

4min
pages 32-34

YOUTHShare Project’s Skills Agenda: Promoting lifelong learning for being resilient in a post-covid employment era

2min
page 31

Paradigm shift in understanding “skills” - what AI can and cannot replace in youth work

2min
page 30

Your best skills – Promoting your best practices during all those years together in the occasion of the European Year of Skills

2min
page 29

Your best skills – Promoting your best practices during all those years together in the occasion of the European Year of Skills

5min
pages 26-28

Best practices during the implementation of project LIKE “Life Investment is the Key to Employment”

3min
pages 24-25

What balances more on the skills agenda for young NEETs?

3min
pages 22-23

Circular Economy requires new skills for new jobs

3min
pages 19-21

Empowering Criminal Justice Professionals: The Trainthe-Trainer Initiative for Skills Sharing and Capacity Building

3min
pages 17-18

Professional practice and skills in the STEM field: Recording of audio-video content in the teaching base "Vinum Academicum"

2min
pages 15-16

Youth Empowerment in the EU workspace

3min
pages 12-14

A chat with a Youth Worker

4min
pages 8-11

Recovery and Upskilling in Transitioning European Economy: Ensuring Pathways for Vulnerable Groups

4min
pages 6-7

Director’s Editorial WELCOME! To the REGIONAL FUNDS ONLINE MAGAZINE

3min
pages 4-5
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