YEU Developing YOU is the annual YEU event that aims at raising the skills and competences of YEU members, focusing each year on a different topic. This year, with the support of the Council of Europe and the European Youth Foundation the TC is hosted by the Municipality of Perugia, Perugiassisi 2019 Foundation and, ADISU - Regional Agency for Students rights. We feel the need to thank them all for support.
The project tackled two of the core issues many countries are facing all across Europe, youth unemoyment and social exclusion, and how these threats can be fought through social entrepreneurship. According to the most recent EUROSTAT researches, youth unemployment in EU28 area has slightly decreased from the 23,7% of January 2013 to 23,4, but this average calculation somehow hides the peaks of countries like Greece and Spain with youth unemployment rates at 59% and 54,6% respectively, meaning: something has been done but a lot more is left to do. Similarly worrying situation is for social exclusion, if we consider that up to 2012, almost 25% of the EU28 (EU27 at that time) area was at risk of poverty and social exclusion, with young people being the second most-hit category (after citizens over 64 years of age). This is why we choose the topic of social entrepreneurship, seeing in it a way for young people to employ themselves and at the same time strive for a resolution of burning social problems.
In the earlier stages of the project, the participants, led by PET trainers Igor Jojkic and Valerio Sampaio, and a new face in YEU Daniela Alexeiciuc, started to get to know each other and to discover the situation young people face regarding unemployment and social exclusion in different countries. After this first phase, the group got more into the topic being introduced to what social entrepreneurship actually is and which are the ideals and concepts behind it; what it means to be a social entrepreneur, what makes it different from the “regular” entrepreneurship framework. In addition, the group had the chance to meet representatives of local social enterprises to have a direct contact with the topic they were exploring. At the end of the programme, the participants developed their own action plans regarding possible social entrepreneurial initiatives that they could implement once back home and some of them will also be included in the guide “Steps towards social entrepreneurship” that came as an outcome of the project and that will soon be published.
In YEU we believe that it is not easy to find a quick and definitive solution for the social and economic crisis Europe is facing nowadays, but the right path out of it goes through the empowerment of young people, through building their capacities in finding smart, sustainable and inclusive solutions to realize their dreams and reach their goals in life. This is why we will continue working on the topic of social entrepreneurship with the “Joining Hands” process, a project lasting for two years that will involve young people from Belgium, Greece, Italy and Portugal with national and international activities. Feel free to contact us if you want to give your contribution or just have your say on the topic!