- Representing more than half of the total population, young people constitute one of the greatest assets for stability and development in the Euro-Mediterranean region.
- Yet, more than a quarter of the region’s youth are unemployed and youth unemployment has been twice higher than adult unemployment in recent years.
- To face this, the UfM Mediterranean Initiative for Jobs (Med4Jobs) aims at cultivating an entrepreneurial culture and support the development of necessary skills for the youth. Framed within this regional initiative, the Mediterranean New Chance (MedNC) and the High Opportunity for Mediterranean Executive Recruitment (HOMERe) projects have improved the socio-professional integration of thousands of young people, exemplify the action-driven methodology in education needed to capitalise on the region’s potential for youth development.
- With the aim to contribute to regional stability, integration and development in the Euro-Mediterranean area, the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) is committed to making education more inclusive and accessible to the region’s youth.
7 August 2019. The UfM embraces the celebration of International Youth Day 2019 under the title “Transforming Education” aligned with its strategy of highlighting concrete efforts and projects to make education more inclusive and accessible for all young people. This includes, on the ground, projects and initiatives led by youth from the Euro-Mediterranean region. The UfM recognises that access to quality education is essential for youth development and is necessary to adequately address the issues currently facing the region. Throughout its Med4jobs initiative, a cross sectorial programme launched in 2013, the UfM helps increase the employability of young people and women, close the gap between labour demand and supply and foster a culture of entrepreneurship. Med4Jobs currently encompasses 13 projects that benefit over 100.000 young people and women.
“With over 60% of its population under the age of 30, the Euro-Mediterranean is one of the youngest regions in the world. And, when it comes to education and training, profound changes are expected to happen to the nature of work and skills required for youth to reach their full potential. The UfM has placed youth at the heart of its actions and engaging young people as full partners in its activities to ensure that their opinions are voiced and accounted for in shaping the Mediterranean development agenda” says UfM Secretary General, Nasser Kamel.
Tangible results have been achieved by the UfM and its partners in the region. The Mediterranean New Chance (MedNC) project addresses the challenge of the socio-professional integration of those youngsters who are not in Education, Employment or Training (NEETs) by mobilising and strengthening cooperation among stakeholders from both shores of the Mediterranean, including Second Chance Schools. This project, framed within the UfM Mediterranean Initiative for Jobs (Med4Jobs) and coordinated since January 2018 by the Institut Européen de Coopération et de Développement (IECD), is currently being implemented in Algeria, Egypt, France, Italy, Lebanon, Morocco, Portugal, Spain and Tunisia through capacity-building activities, and the exchange of innovative education experiences and best practices among partners.
More than 26,000 young people and 100 partner centres in the nine countries are already involved in these schemes, while the network will be able to strengthen significantly and develop its field of intervention. For example, in France, 60% of young people who have been helped by Second Chance Schools go on to find a job or continue their studies. The MedNC project was recently recognised by the Summit of the Two Shores in Marseille as a best practice to be replicated throughout the region.
In addition, the UfM supports a number of region-wide projects in the education sector, notably the High Opportunity for Mediterranean Executive Recruitment (HOMERe) project, which helps high-profile students in their last year of study in their transition from school to qualified entry-level jobs in their own countries. After a first successful phase of the project that has enabled more than 500 students to complete a professional internship, a second phase was launched in the framework of the Summit of the Two Shores in Marseille.
Transforming education starts by transforming our practice in engaging with youth in our region. It is for this reason that the UfM has supported the creation of the Mediterranean Youth Climate Network (MYCN), a union of seven youth-led climate associations from both shores of the Mediterranean that gives young people a platform to address climate change in the region. These associations are highly motivated to take priority actions in raising awareness, running educational programmes and scaling-up learning opportunities on environmental sustainability in the region.
The International Youth Day should serve as a timely reminder that although much progress has been made in empowering younger generations and creating the conditions allowing them to progress and play an active role, there is still much work to be done. Indeed, inclusive and accessible education is crucial to achieving sustainable development and greater integration within the Euro-Mediterranean region. Education should lead to relevant and effective learning outcomes, with the content of school curricula being fit for purpose, not only for the fourth industrial revolution and future job market skills, but also for the opportunities – and challenges – that rapidly-evolving social contexts bring about.