YOUTH FROM 13 COUNTRIES HAVE THEIR SAY
Authors: Tiina Veskioja, Stefan Alievikj, Mirela Ramcilovic and Orkhan Bakhshiyev
Each year Mladiinfo – FEJS MK hosts trainings supported by the European Commission through the EU Program for Youth in Action. The first event for the current year was held in Kavadarci, Macedonia from 1st- 7th of June, and it is a follow-up program of the successful YiA training held last year in Ohrid. In the training 35 young participants (journalists, youth activists) from 13 European countries gathered together to learn and practice reporting about EU issues using new media.
The main topic, which was covered during the training, was the issue of youth unemployment under the name Portraying my Europe. Participants were able to have discussions about the issues of unemployment and share their experiences.
Participant countries. West and Central Europe: Belgium, Germany, Slovakia, Czech Republic;
Balkan countries: Slovenia, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Macedonia (host country);
Baltic countries: Estonia and Latvia; Eastern Europe: Ukraine, Turkey, Azerbaijan and Georgia
The participants’ expectations were different. Olgay, one of the Turkish participants was very motivated to join the training due to the situation in his country. Having a strong opinion about this subject he says: “I think that it isn’t unsolvable problem. All that we – the young people need to do is be aware of our power in society and what we can do for the future generations.”
On the other hand, this was the first training for some participants which they found on the internet. “I saw a post on a youth-exchange group on Facebook and I sent an e-mail to check if I am eligible to participate; a week later I was fine to go,” says Lolita who was being the only Latvian representative.
“This is an unique experience for me and my expectations so far – I can say they are more than fulfilled”, adds Lolita.
During the training the participants had one main project they were dealing with. Divided in groups, they did qualitative research such as interviews, polls and group discussions. Anette from Germany comments: “I really like that in this training we have a practical part, such as writing articles and making videos. I am in the article writing group dealing with a travel agency that sends youth abroad. Working in group also contributes to the good atmosphere at the training venue.“
During the training, the participants had the chance to share their opinions about the issues of youth unemployment. “Youth want to work. They are nervous about being dependent on their parents all the time, thus they postpone becoming adults,” says Robert from Slovakia.
“I heard about various situations regarding youth unemployment, that I am actually little bit relieved that other countries have many things in common about it as Serbia does. I feel sure that if we work really hard, we will solve this problem soon,” comments Miloš from Serbia.
Western countries participants as well as the Baltic ones, point out to the different perspectives of the problem: “In my field it is not a problem. There is a lot of work for art teachers and there are not many of us, so we are needed. I personally cannot complain, neither can my friends. Stuttgart – the city I live in – is a good area and it has systems that function well. There are a lot of people from other states coming to work in Stuttgart, because there are problems in certain areas in Germany,” says Anette from Germany. On the other hand, Lolita says: “Finding a job in Riga is easier, since it is the capital city. The percentage of unemployment is rather low and compared with countryside it is 25 %, so that is a really big issue.” Furthermore, Lolita sends her motivating message that if youth really want to do something, they will manage to do it. “You can start from little, and from this you can grow up and advance. Afterwards, you are not lost, you can find better jobs, improve yourself. It’s only YOU who actually has to start doing something about this issue,” adds Lolita.
Consequently, the participants could compare the situations in different regions in Europe, from the Western parts to the Eastern ones.
“In the Western countries like Germany, the rate of unemployment totally depends on a field. Engineers do not have any problems whereas Social Science and English History students are struggling to get a job. It also varies in regions. The unemployment rate of South Germany is low, but it is very high in East Germany. This happens due to undeveloped industry, therefore no growing economy and because of that not many jobs. Another big issue is that some companies are using youth for free work. For example, Advertising studies have unpaid internship and after the interns have finished the internship but afterwards they do not get the job,“ reflects on the issue Anette.
The situation in the Baltic countries is somewhat different from other EU countries. “The official numbers of unemployment are more or less the same in all Baltic countries. We have high rate of unemployment (29%), but newspapers do not report about it. Young people are passive and they are waiting for the government to offer jobs, but will not make effort by themselves. On the other hand, the employers prefer older generation. The problem is lying on both sides,” comments Lolita.
Concerning the Balkan and the Eastern countries of Europe, participants reported other types of issues. Olgay from Turkey reports that there is high percentage of youth population, thus it is very difficult to control the high rate of their unemployment. Additionally, there is the age problem for retirement.
Concerning Slovenia, Petra Juric says that the biggest problem in Slovenia is the over-education. She also says: “There is discrepancy between the huge percentage of educated people and job offers on the market.” At the end, she adds: “As a part of Mladiinfo Slovenia, our aim is trying to motivate youth, not just to find a job, but to create a job for themselves, to develop skills with which they can be more attractive for employers.”
The time that the group spent in Kavadarci has been amazing. In these seven days everybody has been very busy with their tasks such as teamwork, writing articles and scripts, filming and giving presentations. Participants really proved that they are capable of developing awareness about youth unemployment, as well as to go one step further and actually do something about this issue.