The EMUNI University held on 5-6 April in Piran, its Annual Conference under the title “Youth, Employability and Entrepreneurship: The Role of Higher Education Institutions”. The Conference, which was organised in partnership with the UfM Secretariat, builds on the conclusions of last January’s 2nd UfM Regional Forum entitled “Mediterranean in Action: Youth for Stability and Development”, where UfM Ministers of Foreign Affairs endorsed a roadmap for action to enhance regional cooperation in the Mediterranean.
Conference high-level participants included the Minister of Education, Science and Sport of Slovenia, Maja Makovec Brenčič, the Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research of Egypt, Khaled Abdel-Ghaffar, the Secretary General of the Union for the Mediterranean, Fathallah Sijilmassi and the President of the EMUNI University, Prof. Abdel-Hamid El-Zoheiry.
The Conference included three complementary panels. The first panel provided young leaders the opportunity to express their views and exchange with policy makers on the challenges they are facing, especially concerning youth unemployment. The second panel was devoted to the issue of skills mismatch and how universities should equip young graduates with the skills needed in today’s job market while helping them to adapt to the rapidly changing technological and societal trends. The third panel introduced the discussion on how to foster entrepreneurship across the Mediterranean region and highlighted successful experiences that could be replicated.
On the sidelines of the Conference, UfM Secretary General Sijilmassi met with the Slovenian Minister of Education, Science and Sport, Maja Makovec Brenčič. They exchanged views on the Euro-Mediterranean agenda, the Slovenia-UfM cooperation and the key role of Higher Education institutions to foster youth employability, dialogue and mutual understanding between the two shores of the Mediterranean.
UfM Secretary General Sijilmassi said that: “Youth unemployment is at the very heart of the pressing challenges in the Mediterranean. Developing employability skills and creating decent and productive job opportunities, in particular for young people and women, is key for the stability and socio-economic development of the region”.
At the Conference, EMUNI President El-Zoheiry underlined that: “Youth unemployment is a major concern faced by many countries on both shores of the Mediterranean. However, the situation is not that bleak. The region is currently witnessing a vibrant entrepreneurial scene with hundreds of successful start-ups and many venture capitalists across the entire region. That is why enabling the right environment for youth to become active citizens and seize their full educational opportunities in order to improve their employability is thus essential to respond to the common regional challenges.”
The EMUNI Annual Conference was preceded by meetings of the EMUNI Governing Bodies, namely the Management Board, the Senate and the General Assembly, where UfM representatives participated.
Established under the framework of the Declaration of the Paris Summit for the Mediterranean (Paris, July 2008), the EMUNI University is an international institution that gathers knowledge and experience of over 120 universities from Euro-Mediterranean countries, thus contributing to the consolidation of an area of Euro-Mediterranean Higher Education and Research. The main mission of the EMUNI University is to strengthen mutual understanding and intercultural dialogue in the Mediterranean region by coordinating the implementation of accredited study programmes delivered by its partner universities and conducting research activities in different scientific fields.