The Regional Funds Online Magazine - Issue 39

Page 1

SEPTEMBER 2023 N. 39 ISSN 2784-9465 SSN 2704-6540

Director’s Editorial

Lost in Transition? Mind the Gap in Digital and Green Policies

YOUTHShare and Cowork4YOUTH common event in Oslo

Theme of the month

Digital transition and NEETs: a matter of skills and trust. Preliminary results from the Project - Tr@ck-in project - Public Employment Services Tracking

Effectiveness in Supporting Rural NEETs

The Tangible Impact of Inadequate Digital Skills and Services

Access to technology, how important it is for young NEETs?

Digital era, digital skills, intelligent tools: what to do with gaps? And for unprivileged groups such as NEETs?

“Chatiquette” – or how to comport in online meetings

Application process – how to boost online appearance

Bridging the Digital Divide: Strategies for Inclusive Digital Skill Development and Economic Growth

Bridging the Digital Skills Gap for Unprivileged Groups in the Digital Era

Bridging the Gap in the Digital Era: Empowering Unprivileged Groups with Digital Skills and Intelligent Tools

The YOUTHShare Initiative: Empowering NEETs in the Digital Age

Digital skills gaps in tourism: A study

Digital skills, youth employment and coworking spaces: An interview with an expert

When you are “invisible”

Policies and initiatives to improve digital skills: policies and digital business in rural areas of Extremadura

Bridges not gaps - Digitization creates, not destroys

Empowering Youth with Mental Health Challenges for Success in the Digital Age

Green and Digital Transitions: Surfing/Zooming into the Future with BLUE-GREENWAY

Going green in apiculture is more than just digital

Digital transitions in wine making – a necessary step towards modern agriculture

Limit considerations in implementing Circular Economy practices in the EU

Going green! Is there anything in it for judges, courts and citizens looking for a delivery of justice?

1 Regional Funds Online Magazine
From the Projects
3 6 8 10 11 14 15 16 18 21 23 24 26 28 29 30 32 33 35 37 40 42 43 45 47 49

TBFVnet: surveillance and research on tick-borne flaviviruses (TBFV)

EU-WATERRES achievements and plans for the final year!

Bucovina Institute, Lead Partner within the SEPAL Project is now officially a member of the European Alliance for Apprenticeships (EAfA)

2nd ”Let’s NEET together!” event Agenda

Get to know Ania's story and support craft glass technology on Kickstarter!

Contributors & Credits

2 49 50 53 54 55 58 Regional Funds Online Magazine

Director’s Editorial

Dear Friends,

Another summer has passed and, as always, it happens to me that September is the second month of the year where I usually think about what have been done (and, maybe, what still has to be done). Is it the same for you?

First of all, considering what have been done or, better, what has been achieved, I have to give some sincere thanks. I am talking about our last special issue, published in the occasion of the International Youth Day, the 12th of August. Again, for the second year, our Mag has been by so many contributions that, in my opinion, raised our level, not only in terms of quantity but first of all of quality. Thanks, indeed, to the enriching networking activities carried on by our Projects, it was possible to create links with external and important Institutions covering and fighting the same challenges of our Family. I know how much valuable we are, but this has been a great success. Thanks, therefore, to our Projects for their usual engagement and for the connections they allowed us to do to present such a rich edition.

In that occasion, I didn’t write my usual ‘editorial’ because – and I liked this opportunity! – I was asked to be interviewed!! It was, for me, an occasion to think from a different perspective, and hopefully I have been able to really express what I think about our big Family, but of course I couldn’t say ‘thank you’ to all the people involved. Alongside our Projects, indeed, and on behalf of the entire Fund Operator, thanks to all the ‘external’ people (representing specific entities) that spent some time to be part of one of our main results. Mainly thanks to DG EAC EYY2022 Team, we were able to contact and attract various Institutions and International Organisations to contribute to our special, I am talking about DG Employment – and their European Year of Skills Team, the European Committee of the Regions, the European Economic Social Committee and the EU in general, the FAFO Institute, the OECD, the ILO, CEDEFOP, the European Training Foundation and Anpal Servizi. And, yes, this time it is due, I can present you real names; therefore thanks to Tine Radinja, Katrīna Leitāne, Anne Hege Strand, Glenda Quintini, Ilias Livanos and all the other ‘behind’ their represented Institutions. It was an honor, for us, to welcome you into our great Family.

Last but not least, a big thank to our longstanding friend Tom, which again surprised us with truly meaningful words in poem form for the second year!

One of the most important points, in my opinion, is that all the external interviews and the Projects contributions are not only inter-related, but they create a strong link with the past and the future issues and topics. And related to that, since we have been discussing about that several times and through different activities, I would like to recall here a retrospective video of the European Year of Youth 2022, which you can find at this link, again thanks to the continue engagement of DG EAC.

As they say: «The EYY was a year for young people to speak out and make their voices heard. More than 13.000 activities took place all over Europe and beyond. Different engaging initiatives, such as the Youth Talks, the Policy Dialogues with Commissioners and the “Voice your Vision platform", were put in motion. Some months ago, the Year of Youth has come to an end, giving place to the Year of Skills. Now, as this video sharply states, it's "time to reflect and act on the Year's Legacy"».

I am convinced that these words totally reflect the spirit of our Mag: we have discussed a lot of important and urgent challenges and this virtual space as always been a resource for further reflections.

Regional Funds Online Magazine

Not surprisingly, we will discuss in this edition about – again – digitalization, a word that is now surrounding our routine in different aspects. Just to make an example, kids of 10-11 years old now go to school with pre-settled I-pads, while just until some years ago, some schools barely were able to provide a classroom with computers for all. And let’s think about all the daily activities of our life are now depending on digital. At the point that it is difficult, sometimes, to really understand what experts intend with ‘green digitalization’, since we were used to link ‘green’ to other aspects of our societies (I can just mention the unfortunate natural disasters happening all over Europe and just outside its borders).

Tom gave to his contribution a title which is somehow reflecting what I intend: “Lost in Transition? Mind the Gap in Digital and Green Policies”, isn’t it? And, guess… have a look at the titles of our Projects’ articles: I am not surprised at all that they all analysed, in different forms, the same topic which is, we have to admit it, one of the main challenges nowadays.

I was reading the 2023 State of the Union Address by President von der Leyen and I am even more convinced about the important topics we are discussing through our Mag. And I am quoting here some concepts reflecting that: «We now have a European Green Deal as the centrepiece of our economy and unmatched in ambition. We have set the path for the digital transition and become global pioneers in online rights (…). Four years ago, the European Green Deal was our answer to the call of history. And this summer – the hottest ever on record in Europe – was a stark reminder of that. Greece and Spain were struck by ravaging wildfires – and were hit again only a few weeks later by devastating floods. And we saw the chaos and carnage of extreme weather – from Slovenia to Bulgaria and right across our Union. This is the reality of a boiling planet (…). Biodiversity and ecosystem services are vital for all of us in Europe. Loss of nature destroys not only the foundations of our life, but also our feeling of what constitutes home. We must protect it». And about Digital & AI: «AI is a general technology that is accessible, powerful and adaptable for a vast range of uses - both civilian and military. And it is moving faster than even its developers anticipated. So we have a narrowing window of opportunity to guide this technology responsibly.

I believe Europe, together with partners, should lead the way on a new global framework for AI, built on three pillars: guardrails, governance and guiding innovation».

These words (the entire and original speech is here), together with the pages you are going to read, demonstrate that we are in the middle of the digital era, but apparently, in some cases, we are a bit ‘lost in this transition’. And as usual, I cannot propose to you tangible solutions from day to night, but for sure this Family of Projects is always trying to act accordingly and at the forefront, precisely through their activities. Therefore, thanks for what you do. It is the moment I can announce some interesting and important news related to our Projects’ work (sorry if we forget something, but our Family is numerous… ! ). First, as a ‘last minute’ contribution, we are happy to have in our pages the YOUTHShare and Cowork4YOUTH common event held in Oslo (just two days ago!!!) where they discussed about resilient youth labour market, tackling skill shortages and youth precarity; and, a news arrived just some days ago, our YOUTHShare has been added to the collection of ‘Good Guidance Practices’ of the Euroguidance European Network's website. I believe this is more than convincing!!

Changing of subject, a little message for our Family: we look forward to seeing many of you at our Annual Seminar (Warsaw, 3rd and 4th October) because as always it will be a meeting place to discuss how to face tomorrow's challenges together with, maybe, some nice surprises !

For sure I can anticipate that we will present you an important news: the EEA&NORWAY Grants campaign #ourstories, recently announced by FMO in our last meeting.

Regional Funds Online Magazine

The Annual Seminar will be an occasion to tell you more about that, and for sure we will keep you updated through our next editions. I can just tell you that the aim of this campaign is to showcase the impact of Projects through real stories, told in an emotional way, thus increasing the awareness of the EEA & NORWAY Grants and demonstrating how they contribute to a greener, a more inclusive and more democratic Europe thanks to the contribution from Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.

Enjoy our Mag, which is hopefully further enriching your food for thought.

Online Magazine
Regional Funds

Lost in Transition? Mind the Gap in Digital and Green Policies

In OECD countries, about 8 out of 10 adults with low levels of education do not participate in formal and non-formal learning; 68% of adults with low levels of education in the EU do not have basic digital skills or do not use computers; 33 million of youth were unemployed in July 2023 in the OECD area. These data underline why countries should focus their attention on education and labour policies, with a particular emphasis on strengthening skills for equity and sustainability by providing e ff ective up- and reskilling opportunities for all.

Emergence of Megatrends

Today’s world is beset by many megatrends: climate change; demographic shifts, particularly population ageing; global movement of people; urbanisation; Civil, Civic and Equality Movements; the emergence of digital technologies; and inequalities – that are affecting economic, social and environmental outcomes.

Behind the data and descriptors are multilayered agents at work. A trend indicates a direction of change in values and needs which is driven by forces and manifests itself already in various ways within certain groups in society. It is, therefore, essential to upskill and reskill the most vulnerable groups in the context of the sweep of these megatrends. For example, countries need to have skills systems that support, not just their own deprived

sectors, but also are geared towards the education and integration of migrants and refugees. The focus needs to be on the development of skills for the future world of work – including strong digital, socio-emotional and green skills.

Winners and Losers

Climate change continues to flex its muscles, striking indiscriminately in the form of floods, droughts, widespread fires, tornados and hurricanes. The threat of deteriorating climate change will require changes in the ways in which we produce, consume, and organise our societies. The EU’s response to climate change and the much-needed, fundamental transitions, is the European Green Deal. Many questions still hover however. Can its implementation roadmap achieve the EU’s climate targets? Can European societies grow in quality, rather than quantity, and in a more equitable way? And who are the winners and losers of the transition?

The digital transition is also at the heart of these megatrends: how can digitalisation be moulded to benefit the climate and society –and not enrich and empower the tech giants that are entrenched around Europe? The pandemic has further highlighted the importance of digitalisation and spurred many developments in this area – with important consequences for work and social policies and

thus triggering responses from a variety of social stakeholders.

EU’s Social Rulebook

European Commission spokespersons are in unison when emphasising that improving and adapting the EU’s ‘social rulebook’ is at the heart of Europe’s response to these changes, in accordance with the objectives of the European Green Deal and the Digital Agenda. This includes fostering an economy that works for people; investing in education and training, enhancing skills and equipping people for new green and digital jobs; promoting social progress and strengthening social protection; and promoting just transitions and ensuring solidarity between generations, leaving no one behind and providing access to essential services for all. Who can afford the green and digital transition? Who are the likely winners and losers? To ensure widespread acceptance of the digital and green transition, lowerincome and more vulnerable parts of society should also actively benefit from the transitions. Those who face energy poverty and lack digital skills or connectivity are at a heavy disadvantage. The transitions should improve their situation instead of bringing additional hardships. This will require more collaboration across borders, but also diverse voices able to determine what is best for their own communities.

Regional Funds Online Magazine

Ensuring the Right Policy Mix

On the other, and more positive, hand, the digital and green transition is likely to create new employment and different engagement opportunities if supported by the right policy mix. Ensuring from the beginning that these new opportunities are in line with the workers’ values, public health, working conditions, fundamental rights, living standards is key. In addition, the acquisition of skills that would enable people to be part of the transition must be supported through different instruments and EU and Member State level.

The different European Trade Unions will have a watchful eye, and hopefully active voice in the rapidly changing digital and green industries. In this dynamic time of profound and rapid transformation, it is vital that workers and their trades union representatives are involved, engaged and have their voices heard in change management at all levels and at a very early stage. They need to ensure that the green-digital twin transition is not only geared towards climate neutrality and economic competitiveness but also towards social fairness. In an integrated process, they need to make sure, together with social partner counterparts and policymakers, that the transitions will leave no one behind and that there will be balance between the economic, the environmental and the social.

the green and digital transitions, they are facing enormous challenges to adapt and anticipate the skills needed by labour markets. New technologies and innovations in clean energy and sustainable practices require not only the development of new skills but the updating of existing ones due to the transformation of existing professions, as with the agricultural and automotive sectors. To meet this demand, education and training systems need reform that ensure that all people are equipped with the knowledge and competences to support and engage in these societal transitions. In addition, targeted actions are needed to ensure the opportunities of the green and digital transitions are equally available for women, young people, and other workers who are at risk of being more excluded without them. To achieve a successful and just transition, we need a combination of very good foundational skills, social and emotional skills, cognitive skills, and a whole range of technical skills.

Education and Training Reforms

In recent publications the European Training Foundation (ETF) has highlighted the challenges ahead. As nations across the world face up to the processes and consequences of

Regional Funds Online Magazine

YOUTHShare and Cowork4YOUTH common event in Oslo

On Thursday, September 14th, the common event of the YOUTHShare and Cowork4YOUTH projects “Towards resilient youth labour markets: Tackling skill shortages and youth precarity through Observatory-based Research” in Oslo took place, with plenty of participants and interesting dialogue taking place.

Professor Avdikos, Principal Investigator of Cowork4YOUTH, via online presence, mentioned the Observatories developed by the two projects, and noted that the abundance of data in the Observatories will make them very powerful tools in the hands of researchers, policy makers and practitioners. Referring to the pilot studies of Cowork4YOUTH and the PhD that is in progress in the framework of the project, Professor Avdikos commented that they have firm evidence that coworking spaces and other relevant collaborative spaces seem to play a brokerage role in the labour force. In his introduction, Professor Gialis, Principal Investigator of the YOUTHShare project, said that there is critical understanding of how skills are important in the contemporary job market and also that it is inspiring to see these two projects, YOUTHShare and Cowork4YOUTH, have a firm collaboration.

In his keynote speech, Seamus McGuiness, Research Professor and the Research Area Co-ordinator for labour market research at the Economic and Social Research Institute, talked about labour market mismatches, namely overeducation, undereducation, overskilling, underskilling, horizontal mismatch, skills gaps and skills shortages, and how they raise policy issues, because they can seriously affect individuals, companies and the economy in general. For example, skills gaps and skills shortages could raise the labour costs since employees are not equipped with the knowledge to complete their tasks, whereas vertical mismatch (overskilling) results in lower wages, as well as in “an economy that is operating below its potential”. Professor McGuiness concluded that skills mismatch is a complex and multi-dimensional issue with occasionally very little enlightening data (for example for skills gaps and skills shortages), which is a barrier if we want to achieve a better understanding of the link between “various forms of mismatch and demand side factors”.

In the first session, “The use of online observatories and platforms in social research”, Dimitris Psarologos of the YOUTHShare project presented the Youth Employment Monitor, a WebGIS based platform that includes applications that track youth employment data and employs BI (Business Intelligence) tools to visualize and forecast relevant data. The current basic applications of the Monitor are three: insights, Youth Guarantee reports and interactive youth maps. Next, Mr Psarologos talked about the Cowork4YOUTH Employment Observatory, which is also a WebGIS application that can be accessed by any device and includes socio-economic and socio-environmental data and indices that are provided by official open access sources and calculations by the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA) team.

Regional Funds Online Magazine

George Sykas who followed next talked about the e-Reslab Aegean Observatory for employment and resilience in the Euro-Med area, and Mr Sermpezis presented its tools: the dashboard, data & graphs, database Web interface and the microdata Web app. The third presentation was about “The YOUTHShare e-mentoring and co-working spaces matching tools” by Stelios Kaznesis, Nektaria Marava and Aimilia Markaki, where the Join2Share platform was presented with its 2 new tools, the workplace matching and the e-mentoring tool.

At the second session, “Youth employment and skills'', Athina Avagianou and George Chatzichristos talked about “Precarious youthspaces and the role of social and sharing economy”. More specifically, the presenters shared research regarding “the reproduction of precarious youthspaces of work”; when and where young people reach specific milestones is not an even process and it also affects regions of “advanced capitalism”. Dr Chatzichristos also talked about the “sense of cosmopolitanism” of young people, where belonging to somewhere is thought to be a characteristic of being constrained. Next, Cowork4YOUTH researcher Dimitris Manoukas talked about “The role of co-working spaces in engaging the youth” and he presented the results of a case study conducted in MakeHUB Licata in Sicily, Italy. The preliminary conclusions included observations about the implementation of “reactive policies” with the aim to address “challenges proactively and creating opportunities for social innovation” and “social innovation as brain gain and youth engagement”. Concluding the session, Effie Emmanouil talked about “Mapping skills in youth labour markets across the EU”, an empirical research on skills supply in Greece, Italy and Spain, with the results showing over-concentration of high skills in the Italian North and metropolitan & industrial regions and over concentration of medium skills in many Greek regions, many South Italian regions and some northern Spanish regions.

The last presentation was about “Youth labour in energy transitioning regions” by Dr Kostas Gourzis and Vassiliki Krommyda, a paper in the framework of Cowork4YOUTH regarding a case study about the Greek region of Western Macedonia. Some of the main results about the region revealed the Public Power Corporation as the “dominant employer”, a “vicious circle” between unemployment and precarious work and that youth depend on family.

The common event ended with fruitful discussion between the participants and the attendees, both on site and online.

Stay connected with us through our social media: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn: @Cowork4YOUTH, and visit our website

Cowork4YOUTH Project

Regional Funds Online Magazine

Theme of the issue

Digital era, digital skills, intelligent tools: what to do with gaps? And for unprivileged groups such as NEETs?

Green and digital transitions are points at the heart of the actual agenda. Which are the limits of those concepts if we consider the specific areas of intervention where you are working?

Regional Funds Online Magazine

Digital transition and NEETs: a matter of skills and trust. Preliminary results from the Project

Tr@ck-in project - Public Employment Services Tracking Effectiveness in Supporting Rural NEETs

In recent years, the digital transition has emerged as a central goal for the European Union. This shift was accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic and further emphasized by the subsequent Recovery and Resilience Mechanism Framework. The digital evolution encompasses all facets of life, including the digitization of businesses, markets, healthcare, public administration, and the general lifestyle of individuals. Digital transition aims at making actions more effective, efficient, and prompt; reducing manual processes; ensuring oversight and transparency in every activity; and saving space, time, and resources. It also aims to improve connections with locations that are "physically" distant as well as with vulnerable or underprivileged groups. Among the most underprivileged groups across Europe are certainly NEETs (young people Not in Employment, nor in Education or Training). Among the services that are vital to support them are the Public Employment Services (PES). These services are going through a fast digitalization process with potential sideeffects for those groups in greater needs.

The Track-IN project: Highlights

The Track-IN project - Public Employment Services Tracking Effectiveness in Supporting Rural NEETs, funded by the Youth Employment Fund of the EEA & Norway Grants aims to provide an assessment model for the effectiveness of the support given to young NEETs by PES in enhancing their employment opportunities. The research plan focuses specifically on young individuals between 25 and 29 years old living in rural areas. The project intends to determine if the digitization of services has made them more accessible to youth who, according to literature, face greater disadvantages than their peers in urban settings. Being a NEET in a rural environment entails confronting tangible barriers, such as insufficient financial resources for tertiary education or limited access to on-site PES,

and intangible barriers like lower educational capital, language challenges (for non-native speakers), or traditional views on gender roles and professional development. These challenges, although found everywhere, are particularly more intense in rural areas than in (sub)urban settings. The Track-IN project involves partners from Portugal (ISCTE – Lisbon, Leading partner), Spain (University of Girona and Malaga), Italy (Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore Milano-Brescia and Parthenope UniversityNaples), Lithuania (Vilnius University), Estonia (Tartu University), and Bulgaria (Southwest University "Neofit Rilski" - Blagoevgrad). Additionally, the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the University of Heidelberg in Germany participate as experts. The team includes sociologists, statisticians, economists, psychologists, and educational scientists. The theoretical framework for the project is the bioecological model, which seeks to understand the factors and processes impacting personal development by considering the various environments individuals are part of, whether they are more proximal or more distant. This model facilitates the comprehensive measurement of variables in interdisciplinary research and provides data to formulate appropriate interventions and policies.

The transformation of many services from in-person to electronic platforms offers rural NEETs an unparalleled opportunity to bridge physical gaps. However, it is essential to understand some key questions which are addressed by our project:

· Which types of services are provided in digital mode?

· Which new opportunities does digitalization create for young people?

· Which form of contact, digital or human-mediated, is more effective?

· How to measure the level of digitalization of PES?

Regional Funds Online Magazine

Some preliminary results of the Track-IN project

To address these queries and in line with the theoretical framework, we analyzed active policies and distributed questionnaires to samples of NEETs in the various countries involved as well as to PES operators who were also interviewed. From the initial data analysis of the collective sample, which comprises 4,277 NEETs—of which 2,003 reside in nonurban areas—several intriguing preliminary results emerge concerning the behaviors and sentiments of these young individuals about the skills required to enter the workforce. Firstly, regarding digitalization and considering the different types of services provided by PES (like traineeship, apprenticeship, and continuous education), in 25% of the cases they were delivered entirely online while in 39% of the instances, these services were provided exclusively face-to-face. Regarding their sentiments, when questioned about what they deemed as the most crucial factors for securing a job, all agreed about the significance

of teamwork

skills, especially among rural NEETs. The value of foreign language proficiency was especially underlined in urban areas. However, in rural regions, this factor was ranked high only in Portugal and Estonia. The importance of ICT skills is particularly recognized in Estonia and Bulgaria, but only in Italy and Portugal is this sentiment more prevalent in rural areas. No more than 70% of NEETs viewed a high level of education as being crucial for securing a job. On the contrary, the participants in our study assessed professional skills as being the most important to achieve job security. More in-depth analyses, related also to the extent of PES digitalization (whether total, partial, or absent), are still underway and aim to contribute to the limited literature on the topic.

Regional Funds Online Magazine

What’s coming next?

A clear takeaway from the current literature is that engaging vulnerable youth, like NEETs, with PES entails addressing the issue of trust in digitalization. Trust in digitalization is a three-dimensional concept, dispositional trust, seen as the individual’s overall inclination to trust digitalization regardless of contexts or specific systems; situational trust, which refers to variability of trust across contexts; and learned trust, corresponding to an operator’s evaluations of a system based on past interactions. All dimensions of trust in digitalization are challenged by the skills of young vulnerable people and their access to automated tools within the PES environment. NEETS must acquire digital competencies to understand the technical mechanisms of digitalization fully. But, as they express, relational skills are equally essential as they solely enable the genuine development of trust and, with it, social ties and social capital. At this stage, beyond mere techno-optimism, we can assert that digitalization offers both opportunities and challenges to young NEETs. Researchers and policymakers face the intricate and multifaceted social issue of grasping a detailed and complex perspective, such as that offered by the bioecological model. The goal is to increasingly engage the youth in coconstructing research projects for better understanding and interventions. These should be truly effective, and digitalization should genuinely serve people—citizens, operators, workers, and policymakers—be genuinely inclusive and hinge on the development of trust. All these elements of PES digitalization's impact on rural NEETs will soon be described by the TrackIN consortium in a series of papers to be published in early 2024. A brief of the main results of these reports will made available here.

Regional Funds Online Magazine
Elena Marta - Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore – Milano-Brescia; Francisco Simões - University Institute of Lisbon Track-IN project

The Tangible Impact of Inadequate Digital Skills and Services

The absence of digital competencies and access to online services has real costs for those excluded. In this article, we will briefly discuss the impact of unreliable internet connections, the hidden costs of outdated equipment and the replacement of entry-level jobs through AI-based systems.

Slow and unreliable internet connections might mean that individuals are not able to participate in video calls. It also means that the individual’s productivity is much lower as time is wasted to load pages or download files. Furthermore, creating content such as videos for platforms becomes a challenge.

There are also hidden costs when it comes to the equipment. Researchers led by Tobias Berg from the Frankfurt School of Finance & Management found that, for example, car drivers applying with a “Hotmail” e-mail address for car insurance are charged higher fees, as the insurance company finds that some e-mail domain names are associated with more car accidents than others. Across the finance industry, credit scoring models even use the phone battery life, the time of the day, browser settings, spelling errors, or the font installed on the computer. 1

It is not hard to see how the mechanisms governing the digital space negatively impact those who have lower digital skills and even lead to negative feedback loops.

A person's limited digital skills can influence their income. In addition, tracking models may notice that the process of entering personal details takes more time and those clients should be charged higher fees for loans or insurance policies. These elevated fees result in increased living costs, which could potentially necessitate relocation to another postal code area.

Postal codes are also frequently used for customer classification, which might, once again, lead to higher fees for them to pay.

While profitability remains crucial for any business, it is imperative to acknowledge the presence of these loops and biases inherent in economic systems.

Another domain is the emergence of Generative AI models such as ChatGPT, Bard, Midjourney or DALL-E. Many existing entry-level jobs are thought to be taken over by AI-based systems. These large language models are already used for customer service, phone reception, translation, basic content creation or data entry among many use cases. In addition, workflows are becoming ever more digital and require employees to be familiar with these tools.

So, what steps can we take? It appears that governments ought to assume more substantial roles in addressing algorithmic bias, while regulators should explore collaboration with companies and the adaptation of current frameworks to encourage the development of ethical algorithms. Moreover, in the context of AI's impact on the workforce, particularly for less-skilled employees, governments could consider nudging AI companies to develop products aimed at enhancing rather than replacing workers without losing competitiveness. For instance, AI that offers research assistance to TV writers without generating scripts, as the latter might likely be of lower quality. 2

StayOn project


Regional Funds Online Magazine
1 Berg, T., Burg, V., Gombović, A., & Puriand, M. (2020). On the rise of FinTechs: Credit scoring using digital footprints, The Review of Financial Studies, 33(7), 2845–2897. Goldberg, E. (2023, May 23). A.i.’s threat to jobs prompts question of who protects workers. The New York Times. Retrieved from

Access to technology, how important it is for young NEETs?

According to the skills assessment conducted on NEET (Not in Employment, Education, or Training) youth in the previous year at StayOn Portugal, 41.6% of young people consider themselves to have average computer skills, and 12.2% consider themselves to have low computer skills.

One of the factors that may contribute to this feeling of lacking skills is the lack of access to a computer, the internet, or video conferencing features. Once again, the assessment of the young participants in StayOn Portugal 2022 shows that 23.1% of young people do not have access to a computer/laptop or tablet, and 32.1% are not familiar with Teams or Zoom. However, only 1.3% claim to not have access to the internet.

According to the assessment, it is clear that there is a significant portion of young people who face challenges related to computer skills and access to technology, which can impact their overall competencies. According Digital Transformation of Society and its Impact on Young People’s Lives “The need to develop competencies and literacies seems to be prioritised and this can be one way of making digitalisation useful, to be able to understand technologies such as ICTs and to come to a situation where young people can choose when to use ICTs or not.”. 1

Gaps in policy landscape: obsolescence of skills, the need for up- and reskilling not only for the labour market, but also for personal development, building stronger community cohesion and community resilience; how to ensure lifelong and lifewide learning for just green transitions, to move towards transversality, accessibility and breaking up the silos. “Having a workforce with the skills that are in demand contributes to sustainable growth, leads to more innovation and improves companies'

competitiveness. Skilled workers enjoy better job opportunities as well as broader possibilities to fully engage in society. This is key to ensure that the economic recovery as well as the green and digital transitions are socially fair and just.”. 2

Certain algorithms in the form of e.g. programs, Computer agents (C-A), Artificial intelligence (AI), robotics or robots are created to carry out certain tasks and are increasingly present in society today.

“The European Digital Competence Framework includes five areas: 1) Information and data literacy, including management of content; 2) Communication and collaboration, and participation in society; 3) Digital content creation, including ethical principles; 4) Safety; and problem solving”. 3

The StayOn Portugal project aims to empower young individuals to become active citizens in a digital society by harnessing digital technologies to enhance social inclusion and participation. The project recognizes the importance of enhancing and updating digital competencies. Therefore, it encourages young people to create and edit digital content, enabling them to express themselves through digital mediums. Additionally, the project assists young individuals in designing both individual and collaborative activities utilizing digital media and technology. It also emphasizes the importance of being aware of the diverse range of tools available for digital creativity, including free and open-source options.

CRESAÇOR StayOn project

1 efaff33a-89bc-3947-b618-01160e693872



Regional Funds Online Magazine

Digital era, digital skills, intelligent tools: what to do with gaps? And for unprivileged groups such as NEETs?

Our reality is not only the information age, we live today mainly in the digital age. This is due to the creation and transfer of more and more news, which is primarily digital.

We use the internet for many hours every day. It has completely dominated our time, habits and everyday life. It is estimated that before 1980, about 1% of information was digitally encoded, and in 2016 over 99%! In less than 40 years, our reality has changed digitally to a great extent.

Digital skills, smart devices - are they needed?

This state of affairs forces specific digital skills on the labor market, valued and increasingly required by employers. These include, among others: digital thinking; selection of appropriate digital platforms and tools for specific tasks; communication and cooperation with appropriate communicators; creativity and focus on continuous development; use of available information and its analysis; role-playing skills.

In addition, it is a fact today that digitization forces the presence of additional devices in the work environment. In many places, e.g. production halls, apart from human work, intelligent machines are used to work better, faster and more effectively than us. It is reassuring that even the most necessary machine in the working environment cannot replace a human being. We are needed because machines cannot think adaptively, do not have social intelligence, and do not have the ability to search for information and use media. Let's remember that "human" skills at work are essential!

Gaps in digital competences and NEETs

Based on research, it is assumed that there are gaps in digital competences on the labor market, currently reaching 60% in 2023 and in

the perspective of 80% by 2030. According to the assumptions of the EU, Member States should prepare employees and employers for what the digital future will bring us. This can be achieved e.g. by upgrading skills or retraining the employees or employing new, talented and competent people.

Taking into account the gaps in digital competences, it is necessary to take into account i.a. NEET youth who, due to difficult access to education and work, do not have the currently required professional qualifications. It is estimated that on average in the EU, NEETs constitute around 11.7%.

How to help NEETs?

Despite significant investment, young people in many regions still face systemic challenges in setting up a business or finding a job. The solution is initiatives that provide young people with comprehensive support, such as the international program YES - Young Entrepreneurs Succeed. This project was created to support young people aged 18-29. The main goal of the program is to provide direct services to the target group in Poland, Greece, Italy and Spain, and the courses provided not only provide substantive knowledge, but also focus on soft skills.

In Poland, the YES program is run by the Youth Business Poland Foundation. Thanks to it, help is provided to both young entrepreneurs (nearly 170 participants received support as part of the YES course) and people who, when looking for a job, need to improve their professional qualifications or re-industry in the area of digital marketing. It is an industry that is constantly growing and evolving. The Internet gives the opportunity to reach a huge number of customers, regardless of where they are, which opens up endless possibilities, and at the same time the demand for this

Regional Funds Online Magazine

type of service is constantly growing. Due to the lack of courses for NEET youth under the Young Entrepreneurs Succeed program, the Foundation has developed a comprehensive Digital Marketing Academy course, after which young people can find their dream job.

The premise of the course was to support participants in gaining tomorrow's skills - necessary digital professional qualifications or switching to digital marketing. The course begins with an analysis of participants' competencies, strengths and weaknesses. It also presents the possible development paths in the area of digital marketing and indicates the trends of the future. Coaches - owners of marketing agencies and experts, suggest what they pay attention to when looking for employees and how to effectively look for employment in this area.

In order to minimize the gaps in digital competences in Poland, young people from the NEET group should be supported by encouraging them to take up work and deepen their education. This task is carried out by Labor Offices through cooperation with schools, undertaking activities at job fairs or meetings with local institutions. In each voivodeship, young people can apply to the local Labor Offices for support in completing training courses.

Skills for the digital age

Given the continuous development of technology, we should pay special attention to the skills that will be needed on the labor market in the near future. These include: forecasting and coding; data collection and analysis; communication and cooperation; creativity and problem solving; digital awareness and cybersecurity. We should pursue further education in this direction, developing our own professional qualifications and activating young NEETs to take up technological and digital jobs.


YES! Project

Currently, the fourth edition of this course has been held, attended by almost 200 people. Participants, in addition to the program workshops, also benefited from specialist advice, mainly digital marketing. Those interested also had the opportunity to take advantage of coaching advice. The partner of the Young Entrepreneurs Succeed Program is the Labor Office in Warsaw.

Regional Funds Online Magazine

“Chatiquette” – or how to comport in online meetings

Covid-19 – the world-wide challenge in 2020. Digital solutions were to be found for private and business meetings, networking events, conferences, webinars and more in order to stay healthy and stop the pandemic from spreading. Business etiquette is known for personal contacts but what about etiquettes for meetings in the online world? When preparing NEETs for the job market many assets need to be kept in mind. Today, job interviews often take place digitally and therefore this TSP focuses on tips to increase the chance of winning the opportunity through making a good first impression online. An overview about „chatiquette“(chat+etiquette) as well as does and don’ts of online meetings will support the preparation process.

“Device on and let’s start?” – not having had a second thought about the online meeting can lead to worst case scenarios. An unorganized, private background, bad lightening behind the speaker, no working sound or disruption through ringing phones as well as other people walking through the room can be very disturbing and lead to an unprofessional atmosphere. Home-office, remote job interviews and webinars have to be organized and thought- through the same way as personal encounters.

The following checklist will help the preparation process and avoid uncomfortable situations:

- Background: clear, tidy and professional

The background should be chosen carefully – best is a clean, clear background like a wall without private items. A private background is rather suboptimal and would need to be very organized to have a neutral impact on the professional impression.

- Vista: light, display, camera

Lighting can have an immense impact on the visibility of the digital meeting participant and should therefore be positioned with frontal illumination - lighting from the side or behind can throw adverse shadows. If feasible, natural light would be the perfect choice. In addition to that, the

camera should be positioned in a frontal “head and shoulder close-up”, sitting down and allowing the perceptibility of gesture and mimic that supports the spoken while granting the counterpart an eye-level conversation.

- Sound: microphone, headset

Microphones have to be chosen carefully as sounds like white computer or background noise can be disturbing for all call participating parties. Even small noises create a subconsciously more difficult concentration situation for everyone that can have a negative impact especially on longer calls or webinars. The usage of headsets is advisable as noises are suppressed and the voice can be heard clearer.

- Technology: software, links, telephone number

There are different kinds of software that are used for online meetings nowadays. Whatever tool is being applied should be tested beforehand. Installation of software, comparability of hard and software as well as the internet connection during different peak times need to be taken into consideration. All links that are being used as well as telephone numbers to call in case of spontaneously occurring problems should be within reach during the call.

- Disturbance: surrounding, distraction, other no-goes

Another person walking through the room, a telephone ringing or somebody else speaking to the call participant are all disturbances that need to be avoided. Not only in consideration of the professionality and etiquette but also concerning data privacy protection all necessary avoiding prearrangements have to be made. Food and drinking should not be part of the conversation – although, depending on the type of call, drinking a coffee is arguable.

- Chat: features, benefit, risk

A chat is often part of webinars or larger online calls/events/meetings. When preparing an online meeting, it is best to communicate clear rules

Regional Funds Online Magazine

like a “further question time” at the end to avoid unnecessary interruptions. Also, if links shall be shared, it is useful to the links prepared in advance and have someone post them into the chat while the host is presenting. A risk of a chat is that the participants concentrate on communicating only there and with one another. To keep the attention to the presentation itself, it can be useful to ask questions to the participants or interact with them in other ways like polls etc.

Having taken the checklist into consideration, a general “chatiquette” should be applied in every Webinar or call. Certainly, punctuality and preparation are indispensable regardless of the context. The way of addressing other participants can vary from being formal to informal which always depends on the composition of the group. Leading an online call is easily done by involving participants through asking questions. While the chat communication can be very practical as participants’ questions being written down and answered whenever fitting during the presentation, it is important not to use the tool for sharing documents during the call but rather afterwards via email. Also, keeping track of all the participants (not leaving anyone with questions behind) and ignoring provocative commentaries that might occur are important tips for a professional online comportment.

The following seven principles for an effective webinar1 can be transferred into online coaching, working with NEETs:

• Planning (introduction, implementation, closure, follow-up): Webinars need so be well-prepared regarding content, methodology and technology.

• Feature diversity (choice of medium):

Different tools and features can be chosen based on the target of the webinar. Teaching and working with NEETS can lead to the use of even more interactive tools for creating an interesting atmosphere that keeps the attention and curiosity to the call/

1, retrieved on 16.11.20

2, retrieved on 16.11.20

3, retrieved on 13.11.20

4 (, retrieved on 13.11.20

5, retrieved 10.11.20

webinar itself. Tools like Skype, Zoom, Microsoft Teams are examples for call tools that can be spiced up with features like Mentimeter (for polls and documentation of a call)2, Kahoot (asking questions in a quiz show character and can be used to e.g. repeat learning content)3 or Flinga (a whiteboard tool that can be used for content visualization, commentary/feedback collection; hosted in Finland and is therefore in line with the European data security guidelines)4. More interactive is the avatar meet-up tool Tricat (each participant needs to download it beforehand and the host has to pay for its usage. Participants chose an avatar and walk through digital meeting rooms)5

• Relevance (target-group customized content): The webinar audience determines the content of the webinar, the level of difficulty and the material to be used.

• Interactivity (creative, positive, integration of participants with activities like pools, questioning etc.): Interactive tools (introduced in principle 2), asking concrete questions, including participants in the conversation and having different speakers presenting their input can support the integration of the participants, further the achievement of the knowledge transferring objectives and keeps the participants’ interest.

• Social presence (community, communication, trainer/coach as connecting element):

Digital calls, webinars and seminars can – especially during Covid-19 times– influence social interaction between people. NEETS are not isolated, interact with other participants or their coaches and – if regularly met – can create a sense of group belonging, which is beneficial on many levels. Here, it is important to mention, that -if possible(!) - all participants’ usage of not only microphone but cameras for more interaction, mimic and gesture involved in conversations will add up to the more personal communication of participants.

Regional Funds Online Magazine

• Visualization (clearly, structured presentation, expedient image selection)

• Less is more. In presentations, visuals should be preferred over words, always supporting what is being said. It is even more important than in the physical world to make the presentation short, to the point and interesting and avoid speaking monotonously or reading slides. At the same time, the presenter should keep an overview of the number of participants, the time, dynamics, the tone of the contributions and the chat as the digital environment can have different group dynamics. Participants are not in the same room; cameras are not always switched on and the attention might not be the same as in physical meetings.

Having applied the above preparation checklist and the seven success principles with more concrete examples on tools, visualization and moderation, the coaching/webinar or online conversation with your NEET(s) can only be a great success!

YES! Project

Regional Funds Online Magazine

Application process – how to boost online appearance

Digitization has been a long-discussed topic all over the world and especially now looking at the latest Covid-19 situation, it proves to have been a good choice for companies already involved in the prospective transformation. Having a look at the Human Resource sector and application processes, online profiles on well-known business and employment-oriented service platforms like Linked-In (international userbase) or Xing (rather seen as regional example for Germany) gain relevance and networking is nowadays happening not only on a personal, but also on a digital level. European NEETS (young people neither in education, employment or training) need to be aware of this fact and raise their chances for better working perspectives through activating and thereafter boosting their online profiles.

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok are examples of internationally well-known social media platforms with 2.95 billion users in 2019 and a projected 3.43 billion in 20231. Worldwide, internet users tend to spend 144 minutes per day2 interacting with others while using all kinds of devices like cell-phones, tablets and laptops. Online presence, regardless of location, is not new and part of the digitalization process throughout society. Even in the offline world, usage of social media has an influence on lives as there is an “increased access to information, ease of communication, and freedom of expression”3. On the other hand, it can be very time-consuming and polarizing when e.g. looking at advertisement and politics.

When it comes to work life, finding a job or looking for suiting personnel as a company, the attention on online appearance becomes increasingly relevant. Potential applicants can easily be looked for on search engines like google and the findings can either hinder or support the recruitment process. It is therefore important to have a concrete look at one self’s online presence while taking the perspective of the potential employer. What does the applicant want to show his future employer and what should be kept on a private level? Here, the right use of privacy settings on all utilized social media channels is advisable. Having checked the already existing platform settings, the next step would be to look into the available business and employment-oriented service platforms. Examples are the following:

1 © Statista 2020, Number of global social network users 2010-2023, Published by J. Clement, updated 01.04.2020,, accessed 07.05.2020

2 © Statista 2020, Daily time spent on social networking by internet users worldwide from 2012 to 2019,, Published by J. Clement, up- dated 26.02.2020, accessed 07.05.2020

3 © Statista 2020, Daily time spent on social networking by internet users worldwide from 2012 to 2019,, Published by J. Clement, up- dated 26.02.2020, accessed 07.05.2020

4 AngelList, Funding Viadeo,, updated 01.01.2020, accessed 07.05.2020

5 AngelList, Funding Viadeo,, updated 01.01.2020, accessed 07.05.2020

6 Silicon Canals, 7 European tech startups disrupting social media in 2019,, updated 18.11.2019, accessed 07.05.2020

Regional Funds Online Magazine
LinkedIn (2003, USA) – funding $184.9M4 Xing (2003, Germany) - funding €5.7 million Viadeo (2004, France) - funding €56 million5 Wizbii (2010, France) - funding €17.1 million6

The international platform LinkedIn, which was founded in 2003, currently has 645+ million members and is represented in more than 200 countries and regions7. LinkedIn, as well as Viadeo with 7.5 million members in France and Xing with 17 million members mainly in Germany, Switzerland and Austria, are three options to be activating a profile. Another option is Wizbii (found in 2010), that connects more than 3 million young people from all over the world8 fostering employment and entrepreneurship while offering free services, events and therethrough helping to enter the job market 9.

Depending on personal career objectives, one can decide to create an international profile on LinkedIn and/or specify on the local level through regional business platforms. Language modification when looking at profiles is available e.g. on LinkedIn.

A professional Facebook profile in addition to a potentially already existing one is another considerable option; in this case, personal photos and information are left out and the focus is laid on proficient information, joining professional groups, sharing events etc.

Notwithstanding the amount of profiles – most important is a uniform appearance that leads to a personal branding which shall represent the candidate’s professional disposition. This appearance can be supported by using the same photo, posting interesting articles and updating information consistently throughout all of the candidate’s professional social media accounts.

The professional online profile can be seen as an online Curriculum Vitae that consists of an updated proficient photo, experiences, educational path and skills. A good start for NEETs would be to create a profile, upload a suitable picture and find out, what the personal interests are and where they would like to see themselves at some point in their lives. Formulating and drawing a picture of the wished- for future will help substantiate interests and identify potential paths, useful contacts or firms that can be reached out to later on in the process.

Even if the educational and career paths have not been stable and the interactions with people surrounding them, seemed to not have helped to make advancements, creating a profile and giving interests a wording

through placing them into an online CV, can be the first step into clarifying the direction.

When having created a profile with all required information, the next step is to connect with contacts who can confirm certain skills they might have added into their profile like social competencies, social media knowledge or language skills. Also, these contacts possibly have another contact, that can help him/her find a career or a mentor that accompanies them on various levels. Expanding the network will expand the chances for reaching out to the one person that will help to find the right path. The profile pushes visibility and shows willingness and availability in finding new opportunities to the existing connections as well as expanding the outreach. In case of no available contacts that could support the NEET, there is the opportunity to look for and thereafter follow persons of interest, have a look at their professional career and copy facts to the own profile that might be similar and fitting.

With an updated, professional online appearance (professional photo, no spelling mistakes etc.), one can take a little time and click through the proposed contacts nearby as well as the companies that might offer a job appealing to the candidate. Each person deserves a chance and if already having gone as far as having completed the online CV and having looked for opportunities – all this shows self-awareness that has been started to evolve and trust in oneself is building up. Being confident and positive are useful traits which can e.g. be used when directly writing a personal message to the head of a chosen company, explaining the own background situation while directly asking for advice, an internship or a useful contact. All these are thinkable chances that can be taken when having set up an appealing online profile. Being respectful, friendly and resilient when writing, also accepting and learning from negative feedback and keeping on trying will at some point pay off.

YES! Project

7 LinkedIn logo © LinkedIn Corporation 2020, About LinkedIn,, accessed 05.05.2020 8 la société Wizbii, Vous êtes recruteurs ?,, updated 15.04.2020, accessed 07.05.2020

9 Silicon Canals, 7 European tech startups disrupting social media in 2019,, Silicon Canals' editorial team, updated 18.11.2019, accessed 07.05.2020

Josephine Pape, Sylvie Feindt, Dunja Buchhaupt, KIZ Sinnova, May
Regional Funds Online Magazine

Bridging the Digital Divide: Strategies for Inclusive Digital Skill Development and Economic Growth

Addressing the digital skills gap in the digital era and providing opportunities for unprivileged groups like NEETs is crucial for promoting social inclusion and economic growth. It requires a multi-faceted approach involving collaboration between government, educational institutions, businesses, and community organizations. The goal should be to provide equal opportunities for all to acquire the digital skills needed in today's rapidly evolving digital landscape. That is why there are several strategies to consider to bridge the gaps. In order to develop and implement digital skills a good starting point is working with training programs that are accessible to all, with a particular focus on marginalized group. In this sense, the collaboration with government agencies, nonprofits, and educational institutions to create comprehensive and free or low-cost training programs is essential. The assumption is to ensure that these programs cover a range of digital skills, from basic computer literacy to more advanced skills like programming and data analysis.

As we talk about digital skills, we cannot avoid mentioning the use of online platforms to provide flexible and self-placed learning opportunities. These platforms, like the YouthShare e-learning platform for example, need to be user-friendly and offer support for individuals with varying learning methods and abilities. Clearly, it is necessary to invest in infrastructure and initiatives that improve digital inclusion, such as providing affordable internet access and devices to disadvantaged communities and promote digital literacy campaigns to raise awareness of the importance of digital skills and encourage people to take advantage of available resources. Moreover, we do not have to forget to recognize the importance of soft skills, such as communication, problem-solving, and adaptability, alongside digital skills. For this reason, it is important to offer programs that help individuals develop both technical and interpersonal skills to enhance their employability.

Nevertheless, training and education alone cannot bridge the gaps for unprivileged groups. Establishing mentorship programs where experienced professionals can guide and support individuals in their digital skills development journey and providing counseling and career guidance to help NEETs identify their strengths and career paths is also crucial. In addition, they can collaborate with businesses and industries to identify the specific digital skills they require and tailor training programs accordingly. Mentors and trainers can also encourage companies to provide internships, apprenticeships, or job placement opportunities for individuals who complete digital skills training.

Governments can play a pivotal role by allocating resources and funding to support digital skills initiatives and implement policies that incentivize companies to hire young people from underprivileged backgrounds or those with newly acquired digital skills. But it also important to consider a measuring impact, by regularly evaluating the effectiveness of digital skills programs to ensure they are meeting their goals and making a positive impact on the target groups and bridging the initial gaps. If needed, programs can be adjusted based on feedback and data to continuously improve outcomes. Last but not least, to ensure a long-lasting result on catching up strategies for NEETs, it is strongly recommended to encourage a culture of lifelong learning, where individuals understand the importance of continuously upgrading their skills to stay relevant in the digital era.

ΥOUTHShare Project

Regional Funds Online Magazine

Bridging the Digital Skills Gap for Unprivileged Groups in the Digital Era

In the rapidly evolving landscape of the digital era, where intelligent tools and technologies continue to reshape the way we work and interact, the importance of digital skills has never been more pronounced. The digital divide, however, remains a critical challenge, leaving unprivileged groups, such as NEETs (Not in Education, Employment, or Training), particularly vulnerable to exclusion. Addressing this gap and empowering these groups with essential digital skills is not only a matter of social equity but also a strategic necessity for a more inclusive and innovative society.

The Digital Skills Gap:

As technology continues to advance, the demand for digital skills across various industries is surging. From basic computer literacy to more advanced skills like coding, data analysis, and digital marketing, these competencies have become fundamental for success in the modern job market. Unfortunately, a significant portion of the population, including NEETs, lacks access to quality education and training that can equip them with these essential skills. This gap not only limits their employment opportunities but also hinders their ability to participate fully in an increasingly digitized world.

Empowering Unprivileged Groups:

Empowering unprivileged groups with digital skills requires a multifaceted approach that involves governments, educational institutions, non-profit organizations, and the private sector. Here are some strategies to consider:

• Accessible Education: Governments and educational institutions should collaborate to provide accessible and affordable digital skills training programs. Online platforms, webinars, and community centers can play a crucial role in delivering training to those who may not have access to traditional educational resources.

• Tailored Training: Recognizing the diverse needs of unprivileged groups, training programs should be tailored to their specific circumstances. NEETs, for instance, may require not only technical skills but also soft skills like communication, problem-solving, and time management to enhance their employability.

• Public-Private Partnerships: The private sector can contribute by offering internships, apprenticeships, and mentorship programs. These initiatives provide real-world exposure, hands-on experience, and networking opportunities that are invaluable for individuals looking to bridge the gap between their skills and the demands of the job market.

• Community Engagement: Non-profit organizations and community centers can organize workshops, seminars, and meetups that focus on digital literacy. These gatherings foster a sense of belonging and encourage peer learning, making the process of acquiring digital skills more engaging and enjoyable.

• Digital Inclusion Initiatives: Governments should prioritize digital inclusion by providing subsidized or free access to the internet and digital devices. This step is pivotal in ensuring that unprivileged groups have the means to access online learning resources and practice their skills.

• Lifelong Learning: The digital landscape is in a constant state of flux. Encouraging a culture of lifelong learning is essential to enable unprivileged groups to adapt to new technologies and stay relevant in the job market.

The Benefits of Closing the Gap:

Bridging the digital skills gap for unprivileged groups yields benefits that extend beyond individual employability. A more inclusive digital society fosters innovation and creativity, as diverse perspectives bring forth unique solutions to global challenges. Moreover, by empowering marginalized

Regional Funds Online Magazine

communities with digital skills, we reduce socioeconomic disparities and contribute to a stronger, more resilient economy.

In Conclusion:

The digital era presents unprecedented opportunities for growth, progress, and inclusivity. However, to fully harness these opportunities, we must prioritize closing the digital skills gap for unprivileged groups like NEETs. By providing tailored education, fostering public-private collaborations, and ensuring digital inclusion, we can empower these individuals to become active participants in the digital revolution. As we work collectively to bridge this gap, we not only transform individual lives but also build a stronger, more equitable, and innovative society for all.

Regional Funds Online Magazine
OUTHShare Project

Bridging the Gap in the Digital Era: Empowering Unprivileged Groups with Digital Skills and Intelligent Tools

In today's rapidly evolving digital era, where technology permeates every aspect of our lives, possessing digital skills has become a necessity rather than a luxury. The digital divide, however, remains a significant challenge, leaving unprivileged groups, such as NEETs (Not in Education, Employment, or Training), at a disadvantage. Addressing this gap is crucial to ensure equitable opportunities and empower these individuals to thrive in the modern world.

The Digital Divide and its Implications:

The digital divide refers to the gap between those who have access to digital technologies and the internet and those who do not. This divide exacerbates existing social and economic inequalities, leaving marginalized groups further behind. Unprivileged groups like NEETs often lack access to quality education, economic stability, and networking opportunities, making it even more challenging for them to acquire the necessary digital skills.

Empowering Unprivileged Groups:

To bridge this gap, concerted efforts are required. Providing digital literacy programs tailored to the specific needs of NEETs can play a pivotal role. These programs should encompass basic digital skills, including using computers, navigating the internet, and using productivity tools. Beyond these basics, training in critical thinking, problem-solving, and online communication is equally essential.

Harnessing Intelligent Tools for Skill Development:

The rise of intelligent tools, including artificial intelligence and machine learning, presents a unique opportunity to accelerate skill development. Platforms offering personalized learning experiences can adapt to individual learning paces and styles, catering to diverse needs. For NEETs,

who might lack formal education or structure, such tools can be particularly beneficial in building a strong foundation of digital skills.

E-Learning and Remote Training:

E-learning has gained prominence, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. For NEETs, who might face geographical or logistical barriers, e-learning can provide flexible and accessible avenues for skill development. Governments, NGOs, and educational institutions can collaborate to offer online courses, webinars, and workshops, ensuring that these resources are not only available but also tailored to the needs of unprivileged groups.

Creating Supportive Ecosystems:

Empowering NEETs with digital skills extends beyond mere technical training. Building a supportive ecosystem involves mentorship, career guidance, and creating pathways to meaningful employment. Collaborations with local businesses, internships, and apprenticeships can help NEETs apply their skills in real-world scenarios and transition into gainful employment.

Government Initiatives and Private Sector Involvement:

Governments play a pivotal role in narrowing the digital divide. Policies that ensure affordable access to the internet and digital devices are essential. Moreover, partnerships with the private sector can facilitate the creation of skill development programs, internships, and job placements. Corporate social responsibility initiatives can contribute to fostering a more inclusive digital landscape.

Promoting Digital Citizenship:

Equipping NEETs with digital skills goes hand in hand with promoting responsible digital citizenship.

Regional Funds Online Magazine

Understanding online privacy, security best practices, and ethical online behavior is crucial in the digital age. This knowledge empowers individuals to navigate the online world safely and responsibly.

Measuring Impact and Iterative Learning: Continual assessment of the effectiveness of digital skills programs is essential. Tracking the progress of NEETs who have undergone training and measuring their successful integration into the workforce can provide insights for refining future initiatives. Learning from both successes and failures is crucial to creating sustainable solutions.

In conclusion, addressing the digital divide for unprivileged groups such as NEETs is an imperative task in the digital era. NESC offering tailored digital skills training though YOUTHShare Training. ΥOUTHShare Training, gave the opportunity to the NEETs to be trained on digital skills that every young person should know in today's society in order to be strong enough and eligible for jobs. The main courses were such as creating a website, taking a photo, editing it and creating a magazine in general. The main objective of NESC and YOUTHShare training is to raise awareness of the need for training in these new areas of knowledge such as digital skills. The NESC is constantly trying to keep itself informed and to collect useful material to upload to the NEETS network under its responsibility.


Regional Funds Online Magazine
ΥOUTHShare Project

The YOUTHShare Initiative: Empowering NEETs in the Digital Age

The digital age is here and now, more than ever, it is essential to support people with skills in the digital world we live in. YOUTHShare contributes to the development of digital skills for NEETs (people not in education, employment or training).

In July the consortium completed a training programme covering concepts and skills in the Social, Sharing and Circular Economy, covering a range of topics including developing social skills, understanding labour markets and new forms of employment, developing entrepreneurial skills to help participants thrive in the new economy.

The aim of the training was to explore the innovative features of the sharing economy. After the training, participants also completed the courses on the platform. One of the courses was the IT Skills in Sharing and Web-based Economy, which include mobile photography: taking and editing photos with a smartphone, mobile filmmaking: how to capture and edit short films with a smartphone, creating and customizing your own website, advanced web design features, google ads and crowdfunding: a way to raise your own funds.

The courses are available on the YOUTHShare platform and anyone can register and complete the course. Upon completion of course 1,2 or 3 and evaluation, users will receive a certificate.

Foteini Sokratous, CARDET
ΥOUTHShare Project
Regional Funds Online Magazine

Digital skills gaps in tourism: A study

environment via the perception of digital skills [...]”- but also a differentiation between low and high digital skills was identified: Lowerrated digital skills include social media and digital marketing, whereas highly advanced digital ones pertain to AI and Robotics. In these lines, data scientists, robot engineers and IT specialists need to be equipped with high digital skills in order to execute their tasks, but learning how to use a computer software and using the device for day-to-day activities such as emailing and surfing the Internet are less effort-demanding skills that could be developed via practice at home.

What about the highest gaps?

Part of Cowork4YOUTH’s focus areas is youth employment in tourismdependent, island or remote coastal regions and specifically the enhancement of current relevant policies, as well as to suggest new or complementary ones. For people to improve their chances to find a job, skills development is an important and probably, as technology constantly advances, necessary step; and this advancement has given a special place to digital skills, which are becoming a “big deal” nowadays.

In this article, we are discussing a paper titled “The digital skills divide: evidence from the European tourism industry” 1 published at the Journal of Tourism Futures, whose aim is to present the results of a research conducted on the digital skills gap in tourism and hospitality; and as noted, “this research is part of a large European survey on the skills gaps of tourism and hospitality employees, implemented within the framework of the Next Tourism Generation (NTG) Alliance funded by the KA 2 Erasmus þ Programme”.

A mixed methods research was done, with 1688 people participating in 8 European countries, including Italy, Ireland and Spain. Since these three, with Greece being the fourth, countries are the focus of the Cowork4YOUTH project, our interest in this study is well justified.

The results revealed some rather interesting points in the topic, and a confirmation of “[...] the influence of the rapidly changing digital

These were found in augmented (AR) and virtual reality (VR) skills, and also in artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics - but those are yet not deemed necessary for enhancing the tourism and hospitality industries. The authors of the paper, though, do underline that sectors like visitor attractions could use the opportunity that AR and VR present “[...] within the heritage and cultural organisations to improve the visitor experience of historical and cultural properties[...] ”, and they add “[...] creativity, storytelling skills and the ability to create experiences without or with the use of AR, VR, mixed reality and mobile phone applications are even more important here than in the other sectors”. Overall, the findings show that the most important future digital skills that will be required for tourism and hospitality are “[...] online marketing and communication skills, social media skills, MS Office skills, operating systems use skills and skills to monitor online reviews”. And the largest gaps between current and future ones are AR, VR, robotics and AI skillsalthough these were also considered at the least necessary for the time being.

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

Cowork4YOUTH Project

Regional Funds Online Magazine 1
Carlisle, Sheena & Ivanov, Stanislav & Dijkmans, Corné. (2021). The digital skills divide: evidence from the European tourism industry. Journal of Tourism Futures. ahead-of-print. 10.1108/JTF-07-2020-0114.

Digital skills, youth employment and coworking spaces: An interview with an expert

Technology progresses rapidly and its advancements a ff ect nearly every aspect of our daily lives - but this rapid speed does make some people fall behind in their skills development, creating the so-called “skills gap”. George Zervos is an IT contractor, with more than 10 years of experience in the digital skills sector, and he shares with us his thoughts about youth and employment. Additionally, since Cowork4YOUTH is also about coworking, we did ask him a couple of questions about his own experience in relevant spaces and their role in the improvement of the local economy and job market.

1. When did you start working as an IT contractor and what made you get into this line of work?

I earned my computer science degree from the University in 2010, coinciding with the onset of the European recession. Back then, I held a strong belief that I could secure a job as a programmer, but reality proved me wrong. I found myself in London, tirelessly searching for employment opportunities. Unfortunately, it was a challenging period, as many companies were downsizing and giving preference to candidates with prior experience, something I lacked fresh out of university. The age-old

conundrum emerged: How do you gain experience without a job that provides it?

Driven by my need for work, a desire to accrue valuable experience, and a longing to explore new horizons, I made a significant decision. I accepted a job offer in Southeast Asia, which led me down an alternative career path for several years. While this role wasn't my initial dream job, I came to realize that it equipped me with a diverse set of skills that could be seamlessly integrated with technology.

Four years ago, I returned to the IT sector, reinvigorated and with a newfound perspective. I embarked on a journey as an IT contractor for a German firm. The beauty of possessing a technology degree and technical skills lies in their enduring value. The tech industry's adaptability ensures that these competencies remain highly relevant and sought after.

2. What kind of digital skills would you consider are necessary for a young person nowadays in order to find a job?

If I were to embark on a university journey today or pursue a new skill, my preference would lean towards specializing in Artificial Intelligence or Data Science, given their current high demand. My primary focus would be on attaining expertise in at least one programming language, particularly Python, and striving for mastery in it.

Nevertheless, it's crucial to recognize that proficiency in coding alone may not guarantee success in these competitive fields. To enhance my employability, I would make sure to acquaint myself with remote work and digital communication tools, including platforms like Slack and Microsoft Teams, along with project management tools like Trello, Asana or Jira. Equally important is the way one presents oneself to potential employers, as well as having critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

Regional Funds Online Magazine

3. Have you identified any gaps in digital skills training and development during your interaction with (young) clients/ colleagues and if yes, which are they?

I've noticed a few issues, and the most significant concern is that many people lack the necessary skills to stay safe and navigate the internet properly. Some individuals struggle with creating strong passwords for their email accounts and often resort to using the same password for all their online accounts, which is highly risky. Additionally, recognizing fake emails, identifying phishing attempts, and understanding the potential risks of sharing personal information online pose challenges for many. Even those who are proficient with apps and websites may encounter difficulties in managing their time and organizing tasks effectively in the digital realm. This can lead to problems in handling emails, calendars, and digital tasks efficiently. When it comes to skills, I would argue that a significant portion of the population is not proficient in coding. In today's digital world, it is becoming increasingly essential to have at least a basic understanding of one programming language. This is akin to real-life languages; could you survive in today's globalized world without knowing English?

4. What is your experience of co/working spaces? Do you believe that they offer other advantages, besides desk space for working?

In 2016, I was living and working remotely in Chiang Mai, Thailand. This was when coworking spaces in Southeast Asia began to proliferate, and the entire digital nomad trend started to gain momentum. At that time, I was working from my apartment, which at some point became very isolating, so I started going to a newly opened coworking space. I met many people from all walks of life and made great connections on a personal and professional level. Some were doing dropshipping, others were coders, and others were managing a travel blog. Eventually, I made some connections, and we launched a mobile app startup, which even made it into the top 10 selections of a startup accelerator based in Shanghai, China. Although the project did not ultimately continue, it provided me with valuable experience in bootstrapping a startup with a team and how to use digital tools effectively, such as Trello. It was a great and valuable experience, meeting and collaborating with a team on a daily basis, and I also found that it boosted my productivity being around

motivated individuals. There were also a lot of networking events in the startup scene which I attended, such as the Nomad Summit. Generally speaking, you also gain a sense of community and belonging, so I can definitely see a lot of benefits working in co/working spaces.

5. Do you believe that coworking spaces can contribute to the improvement of the local economy and job market?

I firmly believe that coworking spaces can contribute to that. Coworking spaces often attract entrepreneurs and startups. These small firms can expand, create jobs, and thereby contribute to the local economy. I view coworking spaces as supportive ecosystems for these businesses to flourish because they foster networking among professionals from diverse industries. Some coworking spaces could also provide workshops, seminars, and training programs to enhance the skills of local workers and entrepreneurs, resulting in a more skilled local workforce. Another important factor to consider is that coworking spaces generate job opportunities for local service providers, including cleaners, maintenance staff, and event organizers.

Stay connected with us through our social media: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn: @Cowork4YOUTH, and visit our website

Regional Funds Online Magazine

When you are “invisible”

Every citizen's identity card serves as a representation of their affiliation with a political and administrative body, typically a state. The ID card serves as a mediator between the individual and the institutions of the relevant state(s), as mentioned by Plájás (2023), and as such, it has a genuine impact on the possessor's day-to-day activities. In Romania, you must either have a stable residence or have someone else declare their written acceptance of you into their house before you may obtain an ID card. Due to the causal relationship between an ID card (or equivalent document) and a permanent address, people who typically live on the margins of society in Romania are left without any legal documentation that could serve as proof of their identity to authorities.

Numerous drawbacks result from this condition, among which we would list a few:

• You have a good probability of not being counted in a census – you might only be included as an estimate.

• Being unobservable to the authorities means that, once you reach the legally set working age, you are no longer eligible for health insurance.

• Not possessing an ID card, you are not eligible for any official financial assistance. As a result, most aid is provided through NGOs, which is a desirable option only if they have the required financial resources and coverage; otherwise, one risks being excluded from this aid system as well.

• Without an ID card, you are unable to properly make or sign any contracts, which keeps you from engaging in formal employment and prevents you from contracting for any services (such as running water, electricity, non-prepaid mobile services, etc.).

• Additionally, the absence of an ID card makes opening a bank account impossible, meaning that transactions could only be made in cash. As a result of their dependence on the gray or black, cashbased economy and their inability to access official money, they frequently turn to loan sharks as their only source of credit.

• A study also shows that the lack of identity papers plays a major role, in the case of the Roma people, in leaving their healthy children in medical institutions (Stativă, 2005).

As Plájás (2023) mentions, the temporary identity card, introduced in Romania, can resolve some of the above-mentioned problems, but there are constraints, like moving freely within the EU, which means a greater level of control and surveillance by the authorities, as these documents should be renewed annually (above the age of 25, the "normal" ID card must be renewed in every ten year, if there are no major changes in a person’s life).


Plájás, I. Z. (2023). Permanent Temporality: Race, Time, and the Materiality of Romanian Identity Cards. Science, Technology, & Human Values, 48(1), 68–90.

Stativă, E. (coord.), Anghelescu, C., Mitulescu, R., Nanu, M., and Stanciu, N. (2005) The Situation of Child Abandonment in Romania. UNICEF Romania. Available at: GDD_2005_Romania_Child_abandonment.pdf

Lost Millennials project

Regional Funds Online Magazine

Policies and initiatives to improve digital skills: policies and digital business in rural areas of Extremadura

Among these groups are rural NEETs, young people that live in rural areas that face a lack of job opportunities and more often than not also a lack of digital infrastructures. Even though the situation is changing and the “internet-free zones” or “digital shadow zones”, as translated verbatim from Spanish, becoming less and less prominent and there has been significant effort from the public and private sector to improve connectivity in Extremadura, there are still communities where the access to the internet is very difficult and any kind of digital business or economic activity requires a considerable amount of extra effort.

It is also worth noting the disparity between digital skills among young people. Studies show that even though young people tend to be more competent with digital tools, this doesn’t necessarily translate to have a developed set of skills that are relevant and improve their employability. To solve this and improve digital skills of society as a whole and, specifically, those of young NEETs there are several initiatives takin place in the region.

In a world where the digital sector is ever growing and digital business and activities are becoming more and more prominent, having a developed set of digital skills has become something not only desirable, but of the upmost importance. Digitalization has permeated into every sector and stratum of society and has fundamentally transformed the way we buy, entertain ourselves and even socialize among each other but, even though society as a whole has a pretty good set of skills for an everyday use of digital tools, we still find sectors and communities that still lack a potent and developed set of digital skills suited for the labour market.

First of all, starting on 2020 the Regional Government of Extremadura implemented the Digital Modernisation Plan. Encompassing four years, this plan wants to improve the amount of digital services public institutions offer to the citizens, improving its digital infrastructure and making administrative processes more agile while guaranteeing data and information from its citizen. Encompassing four years, this plan wants to improve the number of digital services public institutions offer to the citizens, improving its digital infrastructure and making administrative processes more agile while guaranteeing data and information from its citizen. With this Plan, the Government wants the public sector to become more accessible by using digital tools, while also offering in-situ services for those citizens that are not comfortable or do not have the means necessary to do these procedures.

Regional Funds Online Magazine

In parallel and in order to strengthen digital skills of society as a whole and to improve their job prospects, there is the Digital Skills Plan for employability in Extremadura. This plan aims to help citizens from Extremadura in acquiring and developing digital skills and, therefore, improving employability by giving specific trainings and workshops in the different centers scattered through the region, focusing mainly on young people, NEETs and entrepreneurs.

In line with these efforts from public institutions, FUNDECYT-Scientific and Technological Park of Extremadura is currently implementing two different projects aiming to improve the digital skills of young NEETs and young entrepreneurs. First of all, within the framework of the RAISE Youth project, the team of FUNDECYT-PCTEX launched the RAISE Youth Digital Toolbox, an online platform with a wide range of different online tools, training and resources that will help young NEETs using it develop their own digital skills in a professional setting while also encouraging them to develop their own business ideas. One step forward is the Digital Innovation Hubs, a European strategy that by providing access to technical expertise and testing and innovation services in Extremadura accompany not only young NEETs that have become entrepreneurs and want to further expand their initiatives, but also well-established companies that might need help tackling environmental issues by fostering the use of digital technologies for sustainability and circularity.

Thanks to the efforts made by public institutions to improve connectivity and digital infrastructures in the region, the implementation of different policies that promote the creation of digital business and the increase interest from the private sector in reallocating in Extremadura thank to its affordability, the digital sector in Extremadura has experienced an exponential growth in the last few years. With successful and sustainable digital business with a social perspective, such as Metaphase07 in Alburquerque, young people from rural areas are getting the opportunity to work in the digital and technological sector without having to leave their communities, thus fixing population to small villages and rural communities and decreasing the ever-growing problem of rural brain drain

and ageing of population. It is of the upmost importance that the public and private sector collaborate and come up with solutions to help develop digital skills of society as a whole, yes, but specially of those communities and groups that will need special help to get to the same level as other privileged groups and ensure that everyone has the same opportunities to access such a strategical and present sector as the digital and technological sector.

Regional Funds Online Magazine
RAISE Youth Project

Bridges not gaps - Digitization creates, not destroys

According to the UN without decisive action by the international community, the digital divide will become “the new face of inequality”. And it is actually happening right now. Almost half of the world’s population, 3.7 billion people, the majority of them women, and most in developing countries, are still offline.

This might be relevant to the situation in Bulgaria also. When we speak about generation gap there are too many people over the age of 65 who are digitally illiterate. There are also a lot of young people who have smartphones, use Instagram and Tiktok, but they can’t pay their taxes online, they don’t know how to use basic software or how to shop in the supermarket, using the machines without cashiers.

Of course, some people prefer to live offline and we can say that nowadays this is a luxury that not everyone can afford. The irony here is that even if you want to be offline, you can only do so with the necessary digital skills ... and maybe not for a very long period of time

The world is changing really fast and many gaps are becoming more and more visible. Today poverty and offline are synonyms. This is why we need to do our best to overcome these contemporary challenges as a community.

A few industries have become highly digitized over the past decade, the analysis found. In particular, information and communications technology (ICT), media, professional services, and financial services companies are at the forefront of the digital revolution.

But that’s not all. The building sector such as the agriculture sector are becoming more and more digital which means that people working in these fields need to gain new skills and knowledge how to use artificial intelligence in their daily work.

The Covid-19 pandemic speedеd up all those processes and many jobs already disappeared. That includes clerical, sales, and production jobs. It showed us that we can’t live offline anymore.

This is why it is extremely important for young people who are neither employed nor educated to participate in different courses and trainings on digital skills. These are usually youngsters who live in the countryside and who are brave enough to seek their personal development far from the big city. This is a representation of the modern young person, who wants to work from everywhere, who wants to live in a quiet nice place and who wants to stay part of his local community. Projects as RAISE Youth are crucial for these young people.

The RAISE Youth project provided di ff erent trainings on e-shop development, entrepreneurship, mobile tourist application development, creation of a chat-bot with AI. Many young people participated in them and some even established their own local companies through which they will empower their peers from the region.

Travel websites, alternative tourism services, new generation agriculture, are key to the development of young people as well as the regions of the province as a whole. We already have successful examples of young people gaining not only the skills but also the confidence to enter the wilds of the digital realm, artificial intelligence and make improvements to the living environment in their homes, thus involving their parents, grandparents to digitization.

I will tell you one secret as a young person also – Offline is the new sexy –believe me. We also want sometimes to stay away from the speed and the noise of digitalization, but it is already impossible, that’s why we are looking for bridges between the past, the village life and today’s modern world. This is a gap which we need to overcome as soon as possible, because we belong to these 2 totally different worlds and neither of them will be enough for us to feel realised.

The RAISE Youth project is coming to an end after 3,5 years of hard work, hundreds of meetings, met hopes, increased skills and motivation, digital journeys, youthful smiles and fulfilled dreams. And it connected these 2 worlds which we are talking about. This project managed to sow the seeds of change in a small country town and unleashed the potential of an entire

Regional Funds Online Magazine

region. Thanks to RAISE Youth, many gaps were overcome - digital, generational, regional.

Through a series of educational courses, bridges were built between the analog and digital worlds, between the old and the new, between poverty and prosperity, between idleness and activity, between stasis and demand. The development of a number of young people and a number of processes was started, and the best is yet to come! There is one more precondition –the “old fashion” representatives of local authorities to step back and give the chance to youngest to start managing their common future!

Regional Funds Online Magazine
RAISE Youth Project

Empowering Youth with Mental Health Challenges for Success in the Digital Age

Our world has undergone a rapid transformation in recent years, with the pace of change speeding up further. From COVID-19, which created a precedent when the world kept working primarily on digital technologies, to dramatic advancements in the artificial intelligence dimension It became obvious that the era has changed and the qualities required for success have shifted significantly. So has changed our approach to the NEETs with mental health problems, with whom we work in the “Hidden Likes” Youth House in the direction of their integration into the labor market, which ultimately could not be realized if the requirements of the modern age are not taken into account.

Eventually, the foremost skill essential for navigating the digital realm e ff ectively has become digital literacy. This encompasses being well-versed in digital terminology, concepts, and typical digital experiences. Additionally, it involves the ability to interact with AI-generated content while di ff erentiating it from content created by humans. These are skills that we try to encourage and develop in young people with mental problems at the Youth House, realizing that today their successful integration largely depends on the ability to follow the trends towards digitalization.

Certainly, it's crucial to acknowledge that the demands of the digital world necessitate digital skill development in NEETs. However, while we strive to encourage the development of digital skills in NEETs with mental health

challenges through initiatives in the "Hidden Likes" Youth House, it's essential to remember that this transformation should not come at any cost. We must be mindful of the specific challenges and needs of these young people. Their journey towards digital literacy and integration into the labor market requires a balanced approach that considers their unique circumstances, ensuring that we don't compromise their mental well-being in the pursuit of digital skills. In other words, while it's undeniably essential for NEETs with mental health issues to develop digital skills in our rapidly advancing world, our primary focus at Project L.I.K.E remains on breaking the isolation these individuals often face. Social isolation and disconnection can exacerbate mental health challenges, making it even more crucial to prioritize their well-being and sense of belonging. Through our project, we aim to create a supportive community where NEETs feel understood, valued, and connected with peers who share similar experiences. This sense of belonging is the foundation upon which we build, fostering an environment where individuals can not only develop digital skills but also regain their self-esteem, confidence, and a renewed sense of purpose. Ultimately, our goal is to empower NEETs with mental health issues to overcome isolation.

Such a trend toward digitalization began to become obvious as the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted conventional norms and digital skills emerged as the driving force behind success in both the professional and personal realms. The demand for digital skills has surged, prompting employers to seek out individuals who can adeptly navigate the everevolving digital landscape.

For young people facing mental health challenges who have disengaged from the education system and employment, and do not possess the qualifications sought by employers, attaining stable and high-quality employment becomes a more intricate task. The inclusion of these individuals in the workforce, despite the complexities imposed by the modern world, is not an insurmountable challenge.

Regional Funds Online Magazine

However, it necessitates the implementation of appropriate strategies when working with NEETs (Not in Education, Employment, or Training) who are struggling with their mental health, aiming to cultivate the essential skills required for successful integration into the labor market. This constitutes the primary objective of the "Hidden Likes" Youth House – enhancing long-term employability through a comprehensive approach. This approach addresses the multifaceted challenges associated with mental health and endeavors to foster crucial soft skills in young individuals, including adaptability and resilience. We firmly believe that, with the right support, young people coping with mental health problems can indeed thrive in the workforce, irrespective of their diagnosis or the duration of their illness. The ability to adapt to change emerges as the pivotal determinant of success, particularly in a rapidly evolving digital landscape.

Our message at the Youth House is encapsulated in the phrase, "Embrace change, remain open to the new, and cultivate agility to maintain relevance."

In recent years, the arrival of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning has ignited a mixture of excitement and concern. While some envision boundless possibilities for business, others grapple with fears about their job security and question their ability to keep pace with technological evolution. This parallels the situation faced by young individuals dealing with mental health issues. The notable strides in technology and the growing integration of technological innovations into the workplace amplify sensations of uncertainty and anxiety among them. They grapple with insecurities regarding their ability to adapt to evolving requirements and changes, all while facing genuine concerns about their job prospects due to the looming threat of automation.

The ascent of AI doesn't signify the obsolescence of human contributions. Instead, it marks the dawn of a new era characterized by fruitful collaborations between humans and machines, leading to extraordinary achievements. However, for young people contending with mental health challenges, bridging the gap for successful collaboration with rapidly evolving technologies can be a considerable hurdle. They frequently lack

the essential digital job skills and knowledge required to navigate the everchanging technological landscape. Whats more, mental health issues can often lead to heightened levels of anxiety and overwhelm, especially in new and unfamiliar situations. Learning and engaging with digital technology can be a source of stress for these young people, making it harder for them to focus on acquiring digital literacy.

To address this issue, we at the “Hidden Likes” Youth House include the cultivation of digital skills within our program, recognizing their significant role in helping young individuals adapt to the increasingly automated workplace but at the same time prioritize emotional wellbeing, confidence, and a sense of belonging.

At the end of the day, to keep up with modern trends and excel in the digital age, it's not just technical skills that matter. Personal attributes and effective communication are equally vital. This is why Project L.I.K.E Youth House structures its group therapy sessions to provide participants with a valuable opportunity to enhance their communication and collaboration abilities. The capacity to communicate and collaborate effectively is not only essential for personal growth but also forms a robust foundation for success in their future personal and professional pursuits.

Regional Funds Online Magazine

To effectively nurture these critical skills essential for thriving in a diverse range of social and professional contexts, the group therapy sessions at the Youth House are thoughtfully designed to encourage NEETs to openly and proficiently express their thoughts, emotions, and experiences. Through guided discussions and activities, they develop greater proficiency in articulating their ideas and emotions, thereby fostering improved self-expression and self-awareness. Nevertheless, effective communication encompasses more than just verbal expression; it also encompasses active listening. Within the Youth House, NEETs are encouraged to attentively listen to their peers during group sessions, which enables them to grasp diverse perspectives, empathize with others, and respond thoughtfully.

discerning eye, especially when considering its impact on NEETs with mental health problems. While digitalization offers numerous advantages and opportunities, we must be acutely aware of the potential pitfalls it can pose for this vulnerable and unprivileged group. In some cases, an overemphasis on digitalization may even exacerbate their existing mental health challenges.

The relentless pace of the digital era can inadvertently contribute to feelings of isolation and disconnection, which are often prevalent among NEETs with mental health issues.

This underscores a fundamental distinction between humans and artificial intelligence and machines, highlighting one of humanity's most remarkable advantages: the capacity for effective communication.

It's form utmost importance that we approach digitalization with a

It is our responsibility to strike a balance between harnessing the benefits of technology and safeguarding the well-being of NEETs facing mental health challenges. This entails thoughtful and informed interventions that prioritize their emotional health and resilience in the face of digitalization's ever-expanding influence. By approaching digitalization with caution and sensitivity, we can ensure that these individuals are not left behind or, worse, harmed by the rapid changes in our increasingly digital world.

Regional Funds Online Magazine

Green and Digital Transitions: Surfing/Zooming into the Future with BLUE-GREENWAY

Hello, passionate green surfers! "

Waves of change are about to occur, and the BLUE-GREENWAY project invites you to take them head-on with enthusiasm. Radical changes in digital and eco-friendly environments are underway, thanks to a passionate movement dedicated to preserving the planet through initiatives in energy, climate change, and low carbon economy. Let's dive into the whirlpool of opportunities and insights that this initiative brings to our shores #$

Fostering a sustainable future via a dual pathway

Blue Restoration Actions in Marine Ecosystems

With a focus on short-term results, the BLUE-GREENWAY tackles pollution problems that affect both land and marine ecosystems head-on. Innovation and collaboration are key to bringing life back to our "BLUE" waters, involving the use of pioneering geoengineering materials and knowledge sharing on effective restoration methods.

Green Innovation on Land

Green products, paired with wastewater management services, formulate the core of "GREENWAY," the initiative's mission at the opposite end of the spectrum. A shift to global benefits: this is the primary objective of the green transition through promoting demand-driven eco-innovations.

Unified Platform: The Heart of Collaboration

Knowledge and Solutions Database

Our wellspring of information, tailored to promote environmentally conscious shopping habits. This convergence of green visions and realistic

answers invigorates us to adopt methods that harmonize environmental conservation with financial prudence.

Life Cycle Cost (LCC) Tool

Designed for ease of use, the LCC tool helps you find green and in budget solutions, making sustainability friendly.

Unified Platform on E-procurement

Bridging digital and natural worlds, solutions are created for all regions and nations.

While sailing with the BLUE-GREENWAY project, we are not just witness but we contribute to a movement. Navigating the churning streams of innovation and sustainability, we shall forge a path towards a verdant future of techno-ecological harmony! #$

Regional Funds Online Magazine


41 Regional Funds Online Magazine

Going green in apiculture is more than just digital

colonies are at some remote location. One can easily imagine both savings and going greener through a decreased need for travel. Here we arrive at the first caveat: the honeybee colonies are like people: each of them is in a different condition and has different character and strength. Consequently, one should then equip more than one colony per apiary, to get an average info. This decreases both the savings and the shade of »green«. Besides scales, there are some other measuring/monitoring gadgets on offer, like hive temperature measurements, sound etc ... All this data is supposed to flow into a single application, performing the display of data and some analysis. Here we arrive at the second caveat: the reliability of such systems. Even such simple things, such as hive scales, must be reliable in field conditions, the signal for data transmission must be available and the application, pooling the data and performing analysis should be reliable, too.

Digital transition seems to be the latest hip in agriculture; initiatives to go digital spring up like mushrooms after rain in warm summer, market products naturally follow. The current policies of the EU handsomely support Precision Agriculture and the development of Precision Agriculture Systems; recently I reviewed a scientific paper on this topic and had to look up what Precision Agriculture Systems actually are - besides being in fashion. The three steps that such PAS should be doing are data collection, analysis, and some automatized adjustment of work procedures. The »digital« should improve both the yield and at least in beekeeping I see also the possibility the digital should assist in going »green«.

In beekeeping, we have a PAS equivalent, called Precision Apiculture Systems. It turns out that already the first step is a demanding one. First, we must consider which measuring gadgets we have at our disposal and what is their purpose. The typical is a hive scale, measuring the gain or loss of the colony's weight and giving the beekeeper indirect information about the forage. Now, this can be very useful information, especially if the

Going green in apiculture is more than just digital - it is also to support local. At least in honeybees, it turns out that local populations are better suited to cope with environmental challenges. In the BeeConSel project, we provide tools to honeybee queen breeders to fend off the pressure of non-local imports through conservation-through-utilization. Going green is also how one manages the colonies and treats against ectoparasites, which repro materials are purchased. All these points must be also covered through education which must also be - like in every fieldspearheading the e ff orts. Beekeepers and other agriculturists are conservative and very busy people with very little free time. For that reason, these initiatives must be designed the way through.

Should we embrace these trends? Should we wait until they are proven?

Or should we decline to bow to this fashion? At least in digital I would say caveat emptor, buyer beware. In green, we are late anyway.

BeeConSel project
Regional Funds Online Magazine

Digital transitions in wine making – a necessary step towards modern

Agriculture is no longer just agriculture as we once knew it. In the Balkans, as well as in other countries, agriculture is increasingly positioned alongside other sectors of the economy. Once traditional farming practices are being replaced by science-based findings and management models. Digitalization and smart agriculture are increasingly penetrating the once traditional economic sector.

Agriculture, more than other economic sectors, is affected by the weather, climate changes, and the environmental impacts. Farmers therefore need to resort to science and digital solutions even more than in other industries.

Variables that affect the quality and success of production are tried to be eliminated from the overall equation of success with self-learning systems and artificial intelligence algorithms.

Even in North Macedonia, wine producers use their knowledge to their advantage, thereby stabilizing production and raising the quality of their products. Fermentation processes are no longer uncontrolled and random, but take place in a controlled environment with precisely defined and prescribed parameters. Digitization and parameter management in technological processes are not a fashion trend, but are becoming necessary protocols for successful and stable operations and product quality.

The establishment of nine meteorological stations located throughout the Tikveš Wine area is a basis and a big step towards comprehensive undertaking for obtaining agrometeorological data within the newly established web platform

The system allows the ability to monitor the gathered meteorological data in real time and analyse it. It also serves for obtaining and recording data related to soil characteristics, water stress, enabling vineyard control during the process of vegetation, pest control, disease management, as well as monitoring of the grapes ripening process.

The gathered information enables the application of SMART eco-viticulture by lower use of pesticides and practicing techniques that result with healthier and higher quality of grapes. This process results in much better wines' quality, as well as a financial income of wine producers.

Regional Funds Online Magazine

The web platform is supported by an advanced soil laboratory where approximately thousand grape growers can analyse soil samples to determine the ideal grape variety for planting, as well as the type and quantity of nutrients required. Additionally, the modern lab is equipped with a grape berry scanning instrument, enabling decisions on harvest timing for specific areas, grape varieties, and vineyards based on the results.

This laboratory facilitates in-depth terroir studies, research on various grape variety clones, yeast isolation from specific micro-locations, identification of native fungal species, analysis of aroma compounds, polyphenols in grapes and wines, and more. The valuable insights derived from laboratory analyses and research, along with the resources provided by the established web platform, will serve as educational material for organizing workshops on sustainable grape production for grape growers. Furthermore, it will support the education of young individuals, including PhD and MSc students, fostering teamwork and knowledge-sharing.

Regional Funds Online Magazine
Uncorking rural heritage Project

Limit considerations in implementing Circular Economy practices in the EU

One of the primary limitations is the conflict of economic interests. Traditional linear economic models, characterized by resource extraction, production, consumption, and disposal, often favour short-term profitability. Circular economy practices require significant upfront investments in eco-friendly technology, product redesign, and infrastructure. Businesses and industries may be reluctant to make these investments, especially when short-term returns are uncertain.

Financial incentives and subsidies offered to promote sustainability may not fully align with the economic interests of all stakeholders, therefore balancing economic growth with circularity remains a delicate task. Transition relies on technological developments for sustainability. However, not all EU member states or regions are equally equipped to adopt and integrate digital technologies into their economic systems. The digital divide this creates could hinder the widespread implementation of circular economy practices.

In recent years, the EU has championed the Green Deal and the Digital Transition initiatives in order to address environmental issues such as climate change and resource scarcity as well as technological advancement. However, while these agendas hold great promise, the limitations for implementation of circular economy practices should be considered.

The circular economy is based on reducing waste, reusing materials, and recycling products to create a closed-loop system, keeping materials and products within the economy for as long as possible so as to reduce strain on natural resources.

Implementing circular economy practices requires substantial changes in various sectors, including manufacturing, transportation, and consumer behaviour.

Furthermore, technology alone cannot solve all challenges. Circular practices often require innovations in material science, chemistry, and engineering to create more durable and recyclable products. Developing and scaling these technologies is a time-consuming and costly process, potentially delaying the circular transition. Changes is consumer behaviour are also imperative for implementation of circular economy practices. Consumers must embrace sustainable consumption and seek out products for their durability, repairability, and recycling. Budget constraints can make sustainable choices less attractive in the short term as well as ingrained consumer habits and preferences.

Efforts to transition must include education and awareness campaigns. Changing consumer behaviour may not yield immediate results, however, is required for long-term outcomes.

Regional Funds Online Magazine

The EU has made significant strides in enacting regulations that support sustainability and circularity. Harmonizing regulations across EU member states can be challenging however, as each country may have its own limitations, priorities and interests.

The Green and Digital Transition agendas of the EU are undoubtedly crucial steps towards a more sustainable future. They offer a framework for addressing critical environmental and economic challenges. However, it's important to recognize the inherent limitations in these agendas when it comes to implementing circular economy practices.

The complexity of the circular economy, conflicting economic interests, technological disparities, consumer behaviour, and regulatory challenges all pose significant obstacles. Overcoming these limitations will require a holistic approach and e ff orts simultaneously from governments, businesses, and citizens. It will also demand flexibility and adaptability in implementation to ensure they align more closely with the goals of a circular economy.

Regional Funds Online Magazine
Circular Based Waste Management Project

Going green! Is there anything in it for judges, courts and citizens looking for a delivery of justice?

First, delivery of justice and handling down the judgements tend to associate with stacks and stacks of paper, comprised of documents provided by the litigants, evidence and documents of the courts. All neatly tied up in binders, bundled together with rubber bands and stacked on the desks of judges and court clerks alike. One can almost feel the smell of old paper roaming the halls of the court and hear the sound of the wheels of case-delivery trolley used wheel binders from the clerk’s office to the courtroom. While this image may still be true to a certain extent in individual instances, in the last decade the general trend of accessing the courts, submitting the documents and handling the cases has changed significantly in Europe.

The changes in climate, which each of us may notice from the uncharacteristic weather phenomenon, linked with the reports on climate change on the news, puts ecology and going green on the daily agenda of every mindful individual. In the European Union this is also backed up by the Green Deal – a point on political agenda as an answer to the ongoing climate crisis and an initiative to achieve a climate neutral and sustainable European Union by 2050, which encompasses many steps towards a greener and more sustainable surroundings/environment.

With the above mentioned backdrop in mind, it may be natural to think that green initiatives have no link between judges, judiciary, and courts. After all, what does the delivery of justice have to do with the ecology? Turns out – there is more than a bit of common ground for this topic.

The possibility to address courts through electronic means has started more than a decade ago and has really spurred in the times of and right after Covid-19. Recent data1 shows that while there still are significant differences in this regard, the general trend is to allow more and more accessibility to courts in digital form. The primary reason behind the digitalization of courts, however, is linked to ensuring a realization of the fundamental right to a fair trail (Art. 6 of the European Convention of Human Rights, Art. 47 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU) of which – access to justice is an essential part. Without access to justice any further meaningful implementation of the right to a fair trial could not be envisaged. Accessibility is a major concern, as citizens cannot avail of even an excellent court if access to that court is not assured. Access to courts thus encompasses the possibility to commence cases digitally, to conduct all the communications digitally until the court hearing, to conduct hearings remotely and for litigants to inform themselves on the progress of cases. Some jurisdictions go as far as signing the judgements electronically and delivering them to litigants through electronic means. All of this is already true in some jurisdictions, while others are on their way to get there.

Regional Funds Online Magazine 1 See for example ENCJ report on Independence, Accountability and Quality of the Judiciary 2022-2023

The primary aim of the digitalization within the judiciary is not spurred by economizing on paper and human resources necessary to take care of the paper files, but it certainly has a positive effect on the ecology. Embracing electronic case filing and court hearings has proved to be a success. While there is a variety of challenges embedded in this activity and it always has to be weighed against whether a particular group may access the court via electronic means, the exercise seems to be worthwhile as it brings positive economization effect towards the society.

Second, the results of the project “Portrait of a Judge” show that one of the main problems in various jurisdictions are the lack of good candidates willing to became judges. The project manager prof. dr. Salvija Mulevičiene believes the insufficient digitalization to be one of the reasons behind the perceived unattractiveness of the judicial carrier. “The young “digital” generation is unwilling to work in an outdated, slow paper-based system

and wishes for clear possibilities to use their digital skills to make the work of the judge more efficient and at the same time to be more eco-friendly”.

Therefore, a link between the modern judiciary and going green is not only established, but it vibrant and with the room for expansion.

Regional Funds Online Magazine
“Portrait of a Judge” Project

From the Projects

TBFVnet: surveillance and research on tick-borne flaviviruses


Are we more exposed to new viral outbreaks? Addressing the risk with a one-health approach

Recent outbreaks of viruses such as Chikungunya, Zika, Yellow Fever, Nile Fever, or Dengue, as well as the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, have found us unprepared and vulnerable. The spread of these viral pathogens is determined by complex demographic, environmental and social factors, causing diseases to emerge in countries where they were previously unknown. Coupling diagnostics and epidemiology with digital platforms for processing data from various sources leads to the possibility of an open, global digital pathogen surveillance system with predictive capabilities. The TBFVnet project, focusing on surveillance and research on Tick-borne flaviviruses (TBFV) encompasses topics relating to public health and raising awareness. With a view to increasing knowledge, facilitating information, and influencing attitudes and behaviour, as well as to further disseminate and promote the objectives of our project, we are holding a public engagement event for the lay public.

Dr. Alessandro Marcello (ICGEB), project partner, will be participating with invited speaker, Dr. Marta Giovanetti, Campus Bio-Medico University of Rome (UCBM), and O. Cruz Foundation, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in the event entitled: Are we more exposed to new viral outbreaks? Addressing the risk with a one-health approach.

The event, under the “Science & the City” umbrella of public scientific conferences, will be held at 3 pm on Sunday 24 September 2023, in the Centre of Trieste, Italy, during the Trieste Next Festival of Scientific

Research. In its 12th edition, the festival attracts thousands of participants each year and constitutes a great opportunity to communicate the results and benefits of scientific research to the lay public.

Entrance is free and the event will also be streamed live. The event will be in Italian for the local populace, however, a podcast and short film will be produced afterwards with English subtitles and distributed on YouTube. Additional information about the event and the project will be available at the ICGEB stand in the main square of Trieste, Piazza Unita’ d’Italia throughout the festival, from Friday 22 to Sunday 24 September.

Dr. Fabio De Pascale, Science Communicator, University of Padua, Italy, Communications Consultant for the TBFVnet project for two years, will moderate the talks.

An ongoing theme for our scientists concern viruses invading new areas, representing risks and the need to be monitored. The focus of the TBFVnet project and its relevance to the monitoring of novel viral species will also be discussed.

Press contact


ICGEB Project

Regional Funds Online Magazine

EU-WATERRES achievements and plans for the final year!

What's new from the EU-WATERRES team? The project implements new activity to improve transboundary groundwater management between Norway and Sweden. We had a 2-day event in Riga that was attended by almost 80 participants. And we have many plans for the last implementation year including dissemination events in Latvia, Norway, and even South Africa and the USA.

As a contribution to improve transborder cooperation between Norway and Sweden regarding groundwater and to ease the management, the EUWATERRES project team has decided to study the “Scottish hydrological model” and offer recommendations to the authorities on how to improve the management of the country’s aquifers. Scotland which has similar quaternary geology to Norway and Sweden.

In June EU-WATERRES project had two days long event on the protection of transboundary groundwater against pollution and depletion. The event was organized by the project's scientific partner the University of Latvia in Riga and gathered a total of 72 participants from 6 countries (Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, and Ukraine) representing 19 different institutions.

On day 1 project visited the largest landfill in the Baltics - Getliņi EKO. Then had a workshop on microplastic surveys on the beach sand and coastline waters. Finally, we visited sulfuric pounds that are unique not only in the Baltics but the whole Europe level.

From left: Researchers Belinda Flem (NGU) Lars Stalsberg (NVE), Senior Scientist Marco Baglioni and Scientist Derick Johnson from Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA).

EU-WATERRES team and key stakeholders.
Regional Funds Online Magazine
51 Regional Funds Online Magazine
Microplastics survey workshop. Visit to Getliņi EKO greenhouses. The unique sulfuric pounds in Ķemeri.

On day 2 we had keynotes on the following topics: the digital transformation of the contaminated site management model of Latvia; an introduction to the Circular Economy, CBWM project activities and key learnings in its course; in in-depth presentation on studies of microplastics in Latvia; the international cooperation in glacier studies and insights on importance of groundwater in Norway, a country dominated by surface water.

The day was followed with the dissemination of EU-WATERRES project results and a wrap-up of all talks can be found here:

Want to know more? Take a look at EU-WATERRES 5th Newsletter: https://

Regional Funds Online Magazine

Bucovina Institute, Lead Partner within the SEPAL Project is now officially a member of the European Alliance for Apprenticeships (EAfA)

Bucovina Institute, Lead Partner within the SEPAL Project (Supporting Employment Platform through Apprenticeship Learning) is now officially a member of the European Alliance for Apprenticeships (EAfA)! This accomplishment comes after submitting a pledge under the SEPAL Project, culminating in a highly regarded recognition at the recent HighLevel event held in Brussels on the 26th-27th of June 2023. The project manager, Petru-Vasile Gafiuc, with immense pride and dedication, represented us during this significant occasion. This recognition serves as a testament to the unwavering commitment and innovative approach that the SEPAL Project brings to the realm of apprenticeship learning and employment support.

Throughout the 5 years of SEPAL Project implementation, our apprenticeship stages have consistently demonstrated their effectiveness, earning us the status of a best practice in the field. This achievement wouldn't have been possible without the hard work and dedication of our team, partner organisations from Romania, Spain, Lithuania, Greece, and Poland. Together, we have shaped a path that not only benefits individuals seeking valuable learning experiences but also contributes significantly to the advancement of apprenticeship practices on a broader European scale.

As a proud member of the European Alliance for Apprenticeships, the SEPAL Project is poised to continue its mission of fostering skill development, creating opportunities, and driving meaningful change within the employment landscape. We are excited to collaborate, learn, and share our insights with like-minded organizations and experts across Europe, propelling the apprenticeship journey to new heights of success.

Regional Funds Online Magazine

2nd ”Let’s NEET together!” event Agenda

The 2nd ”Let’s NEET together!” event aimed to facilitate the exchange of best practices between projects funded by the EEA & Norway Grants that are making a significant impact in the field of youth (NEETs) employment, with a particular focus on fostering collaboration.

The event promised to be an enriching experience that promises to inspire, educate, and create synergies that will shape a brighter future for NEET individuals across Europe, being joined by four projects: SEPAL PRO, SocialNeet, YOUTHShare, and EDIBO European Digital Bootcamps. By pooling resources, experiences, and expertise, the projects aim to multiply their impact and create lasting change in the lives of NEET individuals.

“Let’s NEET together!” event, where the power of collaboration and synergy will shine as EEA & Norway Grants projects come together!

Date: September 4th-6th, 2023

Location: Itea, Fokida, Greece

See the agenda here.


Regional Funds Online Magazine

Get to know Ania's story and support craft glass technology on Kickstarter!

“It's not enough to sell pretty and trendy things. What counts is the impact on people, on the community, whether a given product solves a problem. Even things that are already visible can get better and better, but you have to define what is going on.” – says Ania, a graduate of the Young Entrepreneurs Succeed! program, and today also ... the founder of GWIAZDA GLASS, a glass manufacturing company. Ania runs a network on Kickstarter. You too can breathe artisanal glass!

which have won several industry awards in various competitions over the past year. Tell me, what makes them different?

Kinderbal focuses on inspiration drawn from two color spaces CMYK and RGB. These are the colors that, when mixed, give the effect of a full rainbow. Due to craft production, the glasses achieve different color intensity - each glass is a separate story resulting from the work of human hands.

How did you choose this path for your business?

I am a product designer by education, but I fell in love with glass at first sight, when I saw the manual production of glass with my own eyes. I also noticed how little low-volume everyday glass is in Poland. I saw an opportunity for development in this niche.

Why did you decide to advertise your products on Kickstarter?

Ania is running a campaign on Kickstarter. You too can support craft glass production!

Ania, you have recently started your own company - GWIAZDA GLASS. You have been dealing with artisanal glass production for a year. Please tell us what exactly your company offers.

I have been dealing with glass for 3 years now, and I designed my first glass object in 2017. GWIAZDA GLASS focuses on glass everyday objects, i.e. glasses, bowls, etc., produced in a craft way, in a small quantity, with great respect for detail.

You have created your own product - a set of Kinderbal glasses,

Kickstarter allows me to open up to clients from abroad and introduce Kinderbal to a wider audience. Kickstarter will allow me to place an order at the mill, thanks to the pre-orders collected in the form of pre-orders. That way, if Kickstarter is successful, I'll go ahead with production without having to spend all my savings at once. Placing even small orders at the glassworks involves high costs, so Kickstarter would give me a better long-term perspective for brand development.

Have you always dreamed about it or was the idea born spontaneously?

From the age of 16, I wanted to become a designer, but the love for glass was born suddenly - I designed Kinderbal, realized the prototype on my own, assuming that it would be an interesting adventure using a material that I rarely use. I didn't expect how much the glass would draw me in.

Regional Funds Online Magazine

What does your work look like on a daily basis?

It depends on the projects I'm working on. Kinderbal is in the implementation phase, so during the day I contact the glassworks, I ask how the work on glass blowing molds is progressing. I prepare content for social media, especially Instagram, where I try not only to post nice content, but also to educate in the field of design and glassmaking. I'm also working on a few other projects that require me to do 3D modeling, color selection, and 3D proofing. Mostly I sit at the computer and hang on the phone % . The most exciting are trips to the glassworks, where I oversee the making of prototypes, watch glass tinting tests and talk to craftsmen. These are incredibly interesting trips, I always learn something new.

Please tell us about your situation before joining the program run by the Youth Business Poland Foundation. Just before I applied for the YBP program, I made an internal decision that I wanted to start my own business and give myself a chance to realize my personal brand. I decided that I would look for forms of funding, educate myself in the field of entrepreneurship, and that's when I came across an advertisement for YBP.

I made sure that I was doing the right thing by setting


What has been the biggest challenge for you so far in developing your own business?

I think I suffer from imposter syndrome - I have to constantly convince myself that I am good at what I do and I have the right to earn money from it. It turns out that winning competitions and nice opinions are not always enough ;). You have to hear them many times and, above all, let yourself dream.

Thinking about a breakthrough moment in developing your businesswhat is the first thing that comes to your mind?

Pop-up store. When I am able to run a brick-and-mortar store or showroom, I will be very proud of myself. I can't wait to design my own store.

What are your future business plans?

What did participation in the YES! program give you? – Young Entrepreneurs Succeed?

I made sure that I was doing the right thing by setting up the company, I received a lot of support and warm comments about my business. I also learned a lot about marketing and e-commerce. I also received many tips on where to look for information allowing for the development of the company.

I would like to expand the assortment in my shop, meet new craftsmen and support slowly forgotten techniques of glass production before extinction. I am interested in the development, not only of my brand but also of myself, including my knowledge of glass.

What do you think is the biggest factor in starting your own business?

Added value. It is not enough to sell nice and trendy things. What counts is the impact on people, on the community, whether a given product solves a problem. Even things that already exist can be done better and wiser, but you need to look carefully at the reality.

56 Regional Funds Online Magazine
“I made an internal decision that I wanted to start my own company and give myself a chance to realize my personal brand.”
company, I received a lot of support and warm comments about my business. I also learned a lot about marketing and e-commerce. I also received many tips on where to look for information allowing for the development of the company.

Do you have a "recipe for success"? What advice would you give yourself as you start your own business?

I don't think it's time yet for me to give advice to others, but contrary to appearances, such a cliché as "believe in yourself" I have to repeat to myself every day, so I think that others will also be useful & .

Here the project on Kickstarter.

The article was written in cooperation with the Youth Business Poland Foundation

YES! Project

57 Regional Funds Online Magazine

Contributors & Credits


From the Fund Operators

Mateusz Wiśniewski

Francesca Bombarda

Sara Barbi

External Contributors

Thomas Mc Grath

From the Projects

Elena Marta

Francisco Simões

Wolfgang Spiess-Knafl

Giulia Parola



Birgit Remhof

Josephine Pape

Dunja Buchhaupt

KIZ Sinnova

Sylvie Feindt

Rosa Messuti

Jose Fernandez


Foteini Sokratous

Balázs Telegdy

Ede Lázár

Blanka Bálint

Maritsa Kissamitaki

Suzanne Kerbavcic

Inga Retike

Fabio De Pascale

Ierotheos Zacharias

Špela Kodre

Vaidotas Norkus

Tanja Dimitrijević

Francisco Simoes

Eszter Szonyi

Laura Pacareu Flotats

Saroukou Anna

Savvas Pavlidis

Kristina Barać Petrović

Monika Peter Tzvetkova

Alina Adomnicăi

Janez Prešern


Gian Luca Bombarda

Regional Funds Online Magazine
implemented activities.
Born with the intention of sharing the results and updates of the projects participating to the Funds to showcase the main achievements of
Contact us:
fficial number: 3380/2019
contents of the Magazine are the sole responsibility of the authors and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the Donors.
image: free image Regional Funds Online Magazine