Viernes 17 de mayo de 2013 desde las 20:00 hasta las 22:00 (+0200)
1. Con el título “Emprendizaje: 360º de apoyo” no nos referimos exclusivamente a iniciativas económicas. Hay grandes personas con ganas, que empujan día a día a movernos, estar activos y tener nuevas perspectivas. Emprendizaje entendido en el sentido más amplio posible.
2. Los 360º se refieren a la visión completa. Es decir, convocamos al sector educativo (¿cómo podemos fomentar e impulsar la actitud emprendedora?), al sector empresarial (¿cuáles son las habilidades necesarias, cómo colaborar con la población/educación?), a las iniciativas de nueva economía (bancos del tiempo, trueque, moneda social… ), a quien sigue con ganas de hacer cosas (¿cuáles son las trabas, qué se puede mejorar?), a los centros de coworking (¿cómo abrimos los espacios?), a las instituciones (¿hablamos?), a emprendedores corporativos… en definitiva, a quien desee dialogar sobre esta situación, aportar su punto de vista y favorecer, así, la construcción de un banco de conocimiento colaborativo repleto de ideas de cambio y mejora.
Comprueba “Kfe07: Emprendizaje, 360º de apoyo #ACC01” http://kfe07alcorcon-estw.eventbrite.com vía @eventbrite
This paper provides an overview of the mission reports and main messages created by the members of the Edgeryders community#. The Edgeryders# as a social game was started by the Council of Europe in 2011, based on a “think tank” approach, with an aim to provide inspiration, information, encouragement and support to young Europeans, giving them opportunity to act as “citizens experts” and have a voice in foundation of future European policies in all domains important to the young people. This paper focuses on “making a living” – a process of transition from education to economically active life. It joins personal stories and advice given by the people (not only young people) on how to transfer personal skills and social capital into a meaningful and self-sustainable life framework. What makes this project special is joint interaction of social actors who otherwise act in separate domains of life – citizens, researchers and policy makers. In pursuing so, this project proved to be inspiring and very concrete in steps proposed by its participants, steps that could restore trust into public policies and transform citizens from objects to subjects in creation of new programmes for making Europe a better place to live.
Table of Contents
|1.||Introduction: Changed paradigm of youth values in the times of crisis||
|1.1.||Concept of the Edgeryders project and methodological approach to its analysis||
|1.2.||A profile of the Edgeryders||
|2.||Horizon of the skills: Learned vs Reality||
|3.||Making a living: Clash of generations||
|3.1.||What kind of work makes life meaningful?||
|3.2.||“Significant others”, or how networks enable and empower people||
|3.3.||Innovation and self-reinventing are essential to successful entrepreneurship||
|3.4.||Summary of the Edgeryders’ perspectives on making a living||
|4.||Policy 2.0.: objects becoming creators of new framework for decision making||
1. Introduction: Changed paradigm of youth values in the times of crisis
In the “Approach Paper for the Youth Employment Summit: Toward Full Employment”# (2000, p. 4) the authors emphasize the following: “As the right to vote is the basis for modern political democracy, the right to employment is the essential foundation for economic democracy. In the absence of alternative means of ensuring the livelihood of all its citizens, society has the responsibility to provide employment opportunities for everyone.” An issue of youth status is not only a matter of human rights but also of providing quality prerequisites for assuring societal stability and intergenerational turnover.
“Employment and Social Policy” Special Eurobarometer# (2011: p. 9) emphasizes that “although EU labour markets have been strongly affected by the crisis, overall job losses have been rather limited when compared to other global competitors, thanks in large part to the measures taken to mitigate the impact of the crisis”. Although this observation seems optimistic, the European countries and their citizens differ in their perspectives on the labour market. This is especially the case when it comes to the young people; not only the youth unemployment rates are higher than that of the adult population, but the youth is also more prone to influences of unstable economic cycles and job uncertainty.
“Young people are under several risks increasing the odds of not accomplishing their private and professional aspirations. Some of these risks are mentioned in the Salto-Youth study “Inclusion through Employability: Youth Work Approaches to Unemployment” # (2011) – early school leaving, early school leaving, high rates of unemployment, long-term unemployment and the high precariousness of youth employment. For youth lacking work experience prolongation of working life means deterioration of the knowledge and skills acquired through education and training since they do not have opportunity to put their knowledge into practice. Moreover, jobless situation is related to their financial and housing dependence on their parents and to postponing of starting their own families.
The European Labour Force Survey on 15-24 aged youth brings some data on reasons for part time and temporary work. Inability to find a full time job, followed by “other” reasons, taking part in education, own illness or disability, looking after children or incapacitated adults and other family or personal reasons, lead the list of reasons for engaging in part-time employment. Unlike the part-time employment, temporary employment is more often related to unreliable and uncertain job patterns that could deteriorate position of individuals participating in this sort of employment. High rate of temporary employment usually is related to the precarious jobs some social group makes a living from. In this respect, youth engaged in precarious (and temporary) employment lacks certainty and stability that could enable them to start or continue life independently from their parents. Harmfulness of the temporary contracts to the youth reflects in possibility that they get caught into alternation between temporary contracts and unemployment, damaging their status even beyond the age of thirties.
Overall unemployment (age 15-64), was 11,8% in 2011 and youth contributed to it significantly: 26,7% of 15-19 olds were unemployed, 19,7% of 20-24 olds and 12,6% of youth in the age 25-29. There are pronounced differences between the West and the East, as well as the North and the South in youth employment status in Europe. Pictures 3.7.1. a) and b) show European variations in youth unemployment rates on two levels – regarding the regions and regarding the age. Age differences clearly show much higher rates of unemployment among 20-24 aged youth than among their older counterparts. 20-24 aged youth show unemployment rates below 10% only in mere Central Europe and the Netherlands, while 25-29 aged youth with unemployment rates below 11% cover much broader parts of Europe.
Picture 1. a) Youth unemployment rates in 2011 (age 20-24); b) Youth unemployment rates in 2011 (age 25-29) %#
Regional European differences, apart from better position of youth in Central Europe and Scandinavia, also show adverse position of youth in Mediterranean and Eastern Europe. This insight indicates a need for more elaborated policy measures in countries that are more significantly affected by deterioration of youth position on the labour market. A mission report by Jane C# vividly shows problems faced by young women in East Europe:
“Of course my situation is made worse by the dire economic situation in Romania and worse still by the backward thinking mentality of most people here: the prejudices against women, the lack of investors in youth, the lack of trust in the local authorities, the underdeveloped sense of community, the prevalence of individualistic materialism.”
Jane C gave me a buzzword for the introduction into this paper – materialism/post-materialism. The sociological theory of post-materialism was developed in the 1971 by Ronald Inglehart, who postulated that the Western societies were undergoing transformation of individual values, switching from materialist values, emphasizing economic and physical security, to a new set of post-materialist values, which instead emphasized autonomy and self expression. Inglehart observed that the younger people were much more likely to embrace post-materialist values, speculating that this silent revolution was not merely a case of a life-cycle change, with people becoming more materialist as they aged, but a genuine example of intergenerational value change. Such a change, coupled with contemporary economic crisis and penetration of new technologies into all pores of everyday life are in the core of the project whose results are going to be presented in following chapters.
- Concept of the Edgeryders project and methodological approach to its analysis
This project could briefly be explained as a new tool (based on not so new technologies) for bypassing a hiatus between citizens and policy makers. Its aims were set in following way:
to provide inspiration, information, encouragement and support to a generation of young Europeans who are striving to build their future based on meaningful work and political participation in the most challenging socio-economic climate in several decades;
to gain insights into the stories (mission reports) of project participants (members of the Edgeryders community) about the most troubling challenges they face.
I would like to add another aim – to make a step toward creating a real “evidence based policy making”, a term that has been in used at the European level for quite long time, but with a very rare examples of implementation.
Traditional policy making has been very fond of the term “safety nets”, referring to support mechanisms for youth who face difficulties in transition to adulthood. However, nowadays they seem to be loosing its primary meaning since more and more young (and not so young people) do not manage to lead socially and economically independent and meaningful life. In spite of this, participants in this project presented values of creativity, innovation and eagerness to provide support to close and distant members of immediate and online communities. While reading the mission report of the Edgeryders community members, I came to a conclusion there are three strong elements of their engagement: crisis and their opposing to its effects, internet and online communities, and peer-to-peer learning. These elements are the main engines of the project and they provided means for Edgeryders to become online platform in which individuals speak from personal experience to a threefold audience of peers, researchers and policy makers. The Edgeryders project in just a couple of months managed to empower its participants and to pave a way to transforming policy making process in Europe. Ela, a member of the Edgeryders community expressed it in the following statement#:
“The big question is just to what kind of network or collective people can actually relate to. I am glad about initiatives such as Edgeryders, as they offer a homebase for people who are willing to share & connect. And I hope that the platform will become strong enough to keep up the connections over a long period of time.”
Although I read almost all mission reports in all campaigns on the Edgeryders platform, four campaigns and their missions have been central to my analysis:
I) Dear Funders” letter#, a part of the pre-conference special campaign Funding 2.0 Edgecamp session
II) Campaign “Learning”#, where I decided to refer to two missions:
1) Reality check#
2) First lessons in work#
III) Campaign “Making a living”#, with five missions:
1) The quest for paid work#
2) Bring on the allies#
3) Surviving recruitment#
4) Spotlight: social innovation#
5) Help us evaluate Sources of funding for social entrepreneurs/ social innovators#.
IV) A post-conference campaign “Finale”#, with its mission “Where Edgeryders dare”#.
Being a researcher with almost a decade of experience in policy making, I am grateful to all participants for all their efforts in translating their examples of good practice, their fears, hopes and plans into remarkably significant content to all decision makers – both in policy and economics. Since this paper is going to be published online, I would like to kindly invite (and thank) all Edgeryders to comment on it and to take part in a process of translating their ideas into useful policy guidelines.
1.2. A profile of the Edgeryders
In a public call for joining the project, the Council of Europe and its project coordinators, did not put emphasis on any personal and socio-demographic characteristic of a potential “Edgeryder”. Therefore, a sample of participants is very diverse in age, although the young people (if defined by age 15-29) prevail. Also, the participants were free to stay anonymous and only use their username, without stating their age, gender, education, profession, country of birth or country of residence. However, most members of the Edgeryders community gave details on their background, followed by very often detailed stories on their life. Two of the members of the community, hired as experts by the Council of Europe, performed a network analysis and gave detailed insights into structure of the Edgeryders network and background of the participants#: “Beware the lurkers: as of the 4th June 2012 the network comprised 913 users, of which 194 were actively participating by posting reports and commenting on other user reports, whilst 719 remained observers
60% of users are male and 40% are female (*where given)
EdgeRyders come from 20 different countries (*where given)
The ‘top’ three countries are: UK, Italy and France (*where given)
Edgeryders who live in multiple cities throughout Europe outnumber those who claim to reside in a single city.”
Detailed reading of their report leads to a conclusion there is a bias in the sample towards members from the Western and Northern European countries, missing the participants from Eastern (although one of the largest group of participants come from Romania) and partly Southern countries. Additionally, most Edgeryders belong to highly educated participants, holding not only university bachelor or masters degree, but also postgraduate qualifications. This imply they are highly skilled (including ICT skilled) and active citizens, prone to proactive approach to challenges in their lives. Although this makes our sample not representative, it in turn makes this project possible. One of the participants, hkjovin, nicely described “an average” Edgeryder, by describing a profile of the future workers:#
“You, the young EU person, as the future worker will have to:
be the changemasters, not just prepared to accept change. You will be willing to control it. You will want to initiate it.
re-invent yourself constantly in terms of career paths. This is painful, as we tend to stick to what works. You will survive (not thrive, survive) as one-person profit centres, as being self-employed with an employing organisation (intra-preneur some say).”
Since this is not a representative sample, it should be noted that the personal traits and social capital put the Edgeryders in a much better situation than an average young person in danger of social exclusion and adverse economic situation. Here we talk about the NEET (people not in education, employment or training) and low educated unemployed people, who are under greatest threat of getting stuck in socio-economic status without any prosperity. What differs such European members from the Edgeryders is lack of bright horizon. In other words, the Edgeryders’ mission reports came out of their positive experiences and efforts that have made positive impacts not only on their personal life, but also on their communities. For this reason, this project and their platform should be used as an opportunity to develop new approaches that could give a voice to huge communities of young people whose voice have not been heard during this process – young low skilled or vocationally educated people, people residing in rural areas, people from the East and the South of Europe, citizens of the countries that are not members of the European Union, …, and many others.
There is an additional characteristic that makes sample of Edgeryders members a privileged one – mobility. Mobility is in the core of “Europe” – mobility of ideas, inventions, goods and people. International mobility of people is especially important when it comes to young people – it should help young people to go through education-employment transition easier and acquire better position in society than their predecessors. Mobility in employment also enhances one’s skills and knowledge and helps economies to better match demand and supply on the labour market. New European strategies, especially the “Europe 2020”# strategy and “Youth on the Move”# initiative, advocate turning European education and employment systems into highly attractive ones. Participants in this projects showed a great degree of mobility, not only cross and trans-national, but trans-sectorial and trans-disciplinary. However, there are still many obstacles to international mobility, mostly regarding administrative burdens, low awareness of mobility opportunities and mindsets not prone to mobility. 2011 “Youth on the Move” Eurobarometer## brings data showing only about 9% of young people who already have experience of working abroad, 14% of youth who stayed abroad for different reasons and high 77% of youth who have not experienced living in another country. Awareness rising here comes as crucial since many Europeans still do not consider moving abroad, including the young people. Unemployment increases possibility that young people embrace working in another country – 55% of unemployed and 49% of fully employed said they would like to work abroad. Therefore, current economic crisis could be used as an opportunity for changing mindsets, not only of the unemployed not willing to move abroad, but also of the employers who still narrow-mindedly tend to employ only citizens of their own state (or even town).
2. Horizon of the skills: Learned vs Reality
Individualisation of learning and business experiences and processes poses new directions for young people searching for their professional pathway. As, Rebecca Collins noted in the campaign “Finale”:
“In essence, if working life is set to become increasingly individualised – that is, characterised by non-standard, portfolio careers – then education needs to prepare young people for this “new kind of working life”. Edgeryders demonstrably want to be able to pursue their passions in ways that support their communities and create positive change, but also offer them a sense of achievement, recognition and self efficacy. “
Self efficacy and efficacy in general are strongly connected to the employability on the labour market. Eurobarometer on graduates’ employability# (2010) brings the results on the employers’ attitudes towards importance of different skills and capabilities in recruitment of higher education graduates. All listed skills were selected as important by majority (more than 50%) of employers if we refer to the skills selected as “very important” or “rather important”. In this light, we should make a distinction between the skills valued as “very important” by the majority of respondents – teamworking skills (67%), sector specific skills (62%), communication and computer skills and ability to adapt and act in new situations (62%), reading/writing skills (59%) and planning and organisational skills (53%). Graduate employers, however, were less likely to highlight the importance of decision making skills that were marked as “very important” by 46% and as “rather important” by 45% of employers. Even less respondents regard the mathematical skills as “very important” or “rather important” (40% and 48% respectively). The last listed skills are foreign language skills, here in a very specific position due to the fact that only 33% of respondents consider them as “very important”, while 22% consider them to be “rather unimportant” and 11% “not important at all”. This is probably linked to the fact that the European labour market is characterised by very low labour market mobility rates so contemporary employers do not express the need to employ workers with this kind of skills.
Acquiring skills may nowadays may seem easier than ever. Still, educational systems show less and less apt for adapting to changing reality on the labour market. A relatively new negative trend on the European labour market is failing of the highly educated young people to successfully make a transition from educational system. Outdated curricula and domination of theoretical knowledge burden better learning prospects for young people. Higiacomo gave an input on his experiences with inefficient educational system#:
“20 years at school didn’t teach me how to: […] Facing complex situations / setting the problem […]. Where and how I learnt it: The first work experience I had taught me there’s no pre-defined solution for everything.”
In other words, as Andrei# stated it:
“Most people fall into the trap of translating faculties into grades and acquired knowledge.”
In such a gap between the knowledge gained through educational process and the education required for actual jobs, the importance of peer-to-peer learning becomes increasingly important. Edgeryders, like Adria, are well aware of it:
“In closing, my point is that theoretical knowledge shouldn’t be cast aside as useless. But if you don’t have a professor who can help you contextualize your experience, start a club/forum/discussion group/blog whatchamacallit and use people around you who can help.”
Lifelong learning has become a necessity at the end of the twentieth century, but the general need for lifelong learning has been recognised since ancient times. Still, only lately the serious methods were employed on a large scale to expand education opportunities to the wider population. Since the 1970s major international organisations have researched and documented specific needs and opportunities for lifelong learning around the world. International organisations have established foundations for educational programmes, but very often everything breaks when it comes to implementation at the national or regional level. Luckily, many people have a strong drive for learning, as described in the mission of the Edgeryders k#:
“We are learning junkies, because that’s how we survived. We managed to learn
before the formal education kicked in, through the environments and the peers. […] Studying sometimes does not provide a learning environment, but a huge amount of data which is not to be confused with learning.”
Contemporary internet based technologies provided prerequisites for acquiring a broad spectrum of knowledge, more or less profound, but still very diverse. In such a context specialisation of knowledge and skills is very often judged as limitations set by people who do not want to “try harder”. However, the Edgeryders Charanya# recognises that specialisation is not necessarily bad, introducing a new term for people who are both specialised in one area and posses knowledge of related fields:
“Specialization is good – Corporations find specialized employees stable and less risky. Majority of projects that require cross or multidisciplinarity are outsourced to consultancies. T-shaped employees or hybrids are therefore, not preferred within large corporations and the arena of consulting is extremely competitive – this was identified as one of the major problems in finding paid work as more and more individuals are or consider themselves hybrids. Hybrids are people who have expertise in one area and a general understanding of related fields giving them the ability to be inter- or trans-disciplinary. Society favours classical titles and hybrids fit none making it difficult for them to find a place in the traditional job market. Once again, the individual is an asset or resource in the context of existing institutions.”
I will finish this section with a gloomy story by Gyula#, about prejudices faced by a little boy at the very beginning of his education. This and similar stories should be frequently emphasised because mainstream policy makers and average citizens of developed European societies tend to forget we still do not live in a real multicultural and supporting societies:
“The depth and diversity of stereotypes we have in Europe against each other are one of the greatest obstacles to the economic growth of the continent. […] One of the toughest habits I have been coming across as a child as well as a father of three is discrimination in school. The current educational system and the educational methodology used provides a real chance to less than 1% of all Roma/Gypsy children.”
Robi – a boy from this story is also an Edgeryder – he is riding on the edges of not having a chance to use all opportunities for leading self-fulfilling and meaningful life. Therefore, a triangle of actors in the Edgeryders project – members of the Edgeryders community, the researchers, and the policy makers have responsibility to transform mission reports on the platform into guidelines for making Europe a better place to live, including for those whose voice is still not heard.
3. Making a living: Clash of generations
Traditionally, ideal conditions of youth transition from a period of education and training to the labour market and starting an independent life encompassed obtaining an educational certificate, finding employment and leaving the parental household. However, many youth experience barriers, especially since the start of the economic crisis. Ben Vickers# described such clash of generational perspectives:
“Graduating in 2012 will undoubtedly be an exceptionally disheartening and grim experience for most young people. […] “The Lost Generation” or “The graduate with no future” have become commonplace terms for news reports and articles to characterise the gloomy prospects for those graduating today. However this projected future presents at times a distorted and disempowering reality for young people and demonstrates in many ways a misrepresentation of the activities and work many are engaged and committed to. Whilst it is true that this generation is unlikely to be as economically prosperous as their parents generation, this isn’t necessarily reflective of a lack of productivity and creativity but rather a lack of visibility for how recent graduates have continued to work during recession. “
It can be said that the institutional re-evaluation of the young people’s work occurred recently, with rare examples of “9-5” working format. Precariousness, from a low frequent, becomes a standard reality faced by young Europeans. Economic and social disadvantages usually observed in analysis of youth employment status have to be supplemented by dramatic devalorisation of the young people’s work. Unlike the “older” generations, “portfolio” has become one of the means to “sell” yourself from one job to another, hoping that the next one will last for a couple of months longer than the previous one. As it will be elaborated on the evidences from the Edgeryders’ mission reports, there are many elements of such “portfolio” labour market context that make it very difficult to accomplish transition to an independent life:
low paid jobs
difficulties in changing jobs due to high unemployment
strict hierarchy in decision making inside organisation and difficulties in reaching satisfying position inside organisation/career advancement.
In return, such labour market situation affects all areas where young people aspire to gain accomplishment and satisfaction:
freedom of choice in everyday life due to dependence on the family help (not only regarding lifestyles)
freedom of participation in different cultures/subcultures
media and informing
starting a family on their own.
Still, many Edgeryders have found their way out, empowered by online networks and peer-to-peer learning, like Noemi who is at the same time emphasising difficulties in selling trans-disciplinary competencies in traditional settings, and exploring possible strategies to make most of the above mentioned “portfolio careers” #:
“Recurrent (ad-hoc) solutions Edgeryders found are the ones we’ve seen: self-employment, entrepreneurship, navigating different economies -alternative currencies e.g. bartering of skills… They all require some creativity, open mindedness. […] Personal example: I’m heading towards the end of a job which is only slightly connected to my university qualifications, and as I prepare for job hunting, I find it difficult to write a summary of who I am professionally, or even harder to define my profession: I am equally an early stage researcher in political sociology and a young online community builder. I have a university affiliation, but at the same time I am a communicator. I have 1-3 yrs experience in both, thus I am a learner still. The interdisciplinary competencies that I supposedly have are: peer learning, intercultural communicating, online content managing, thematic networking rather than just social. How can you sell this in traditional settings?”
3. 1. What kind of work makes life meaningful?
Common characteristic of the Edgeryders active on the labour market is their search for a meaning – they seek a broader picture, like Amalia# who strongly opposes being only a little brick in the wall, just another ant in dehumanising and conformist working culture:
“The ‘problem’ was that I’m completely against the corporatist environment, where every employee is like a little robot, who has to do a lot of things, but he actually doesn’t know why he is doing those things.”
We are aware that Amalia’s concern is not anything new, one of the most famous renaissance people – Leonardo Da Vinci said: “Make your work to be in keeping with your purpose”. His inclination is still driving many people in their private and professional lives. Simply said, they are trying to find a balance between doing something interesting and making money. While doing so, they are constantly “reinventing themselves”, trying to give a new meaning to their undertakings, as Lyne posted, they “balance being and doing” #, or as Cataspanglish said while describing Andrea Goetzke case#:
“Andrea is trying to find a balance between doing things she finds interesting and making money.”
Concerns shared amongst Edgeryders directed them towards aspiration to keep individual integrity and autonomy, adding value to everything they do to make a living. This value is a non-material one, described in a post by Noemi#:
“I never thought of salary as a reward for my work because I just had other priority indicators to measure my satisfaction with own work- not revenues, but quality. For me, an indicator of success in making a living so far has been knowledge and personal growth in no matter what I would do. What’s very important is to be able to do my work well, really well, and gain some recognition#.”
and hexayurt# who said:
“Your reputation for getting the job done is the only thing that matters. […] To be a good citizen of a powerful network, you have to be reliable and real – and that’s a completely different thing from appearing to be or trying to be perfect! […] My experience is that I could not make money, but I could make meaning, and money comes with it often enough to enable me to survive.”
One of the most important added values of the Edgeryders’ striving to enhance autonomy and integrity while pursuing their careers relates to communitarian and long-term perspectives. Cooperation is not taken for granted by the Edgeryders. They use it to flourish their personal and community resources and to stay free to choose the most efficient and most productive ways of making their working lives meaningful. Although the Edgeryders show a great degree of independence and autonomy, they do depend on the existing structures in gaining their competencies and relevant working experience. These structures seem more and more a source of frustration and fears, like a fear of discrimination, marginalisation and exploitation. Such fears and concerns come out of two over-present form of acquiring working experience: volunteering and internships. Therefore I should give a floor to IdilM who said#:
“I remember feeling absolutely scandalised and disgusted when the head of a UN organisation who had come to give a careers talk at our university early on in the year, when asked about the culture of unpaid internships in the organistion, replied in a blasse manner that ‘we expect your parents to pay’. […] This reeks of hypocrisy especially when the same organisation is claiming to fight poverty and social injustice across the world. So, whilst my colleagues were doing internships in Brussels and the Hague over the Easter break thanks to the bank of mum and dad, others like myself were denied these same opportunities by being inadvertently excluded through the unpaid internship schemes run by many governmental, intergovernmental and non-governmental organisations.”
The European Youth Forum (EYF) in 2011 conducted and published a survey on internships in Europe#, motivated by disparity between real conditions and an idea that internships meant to provide young people with the opportunity to gain work experience or use formally acquired skills in a practical setting. One of inadequacies of a position of the interns comes from the evidences that young interns are being engaged as extensions of, or replacements for, regular staff. Such situation calls for establishing of a regulatory framework with clear standards for working hours, remuneration and the educational quality of internships. Furthermore, the lack of guidelines can make it challenging for host organisations to streamline and clearly communicate the conditions on which they offer internships. This survey respondents are mostly residing in the EU-15 Member States (66% out of 3.028 respondents), and predominantly experienced internships below the age of 25. Regarding the number of internships, 35% have done one internship, 28% two, whereas 9% of the respondents have completed five or more internships. By its duration most internships were of short or medium duration (for 40% – between four and six months), while only 14% of internships extended beyond six months. Majority of young interns were geographically mobile – around half of them travelled to another country, with 70% of them who moved to one of the EU-15 Member States.
Exploitation and discrimination emphasised by IdilM# has been made more visible by the results of the “Interns Revealed” study. Following their results, young interns are overrepresented among those who take up internships with little or no pay. In other words, 75% of all respondents reported no or insufficient financial compensation. Internships/traineeships belong to one of the areas that often evoke sympathy but concrete actions (legislative framework) is needed in order to provide the youth with more stabile prerequisites for acquiring working experience and financial independence. “Interns Revealed” study also brings the responses on how the internship affected the interns’ job chances with the same or another employer. According to the results, most internships have already resulted or will result in employment – 16% of respondents were offered a job with the host organisation as a result of their internship, 18% were offered a job elsewhere and ineligible 30% expect that it will help them find work with another employer.
Creators of the Edgeryders platform recognised a recruitment process as especially complicated, troublesome and with questionable results, setting up a campaign “Surviving recruitment”#. This campaign is rich in testimonies on unjustified and useless recruitment processes that a majority of the Edgeryders had to undergo. They are all self-explanatory, so I will just list them and let them to speak for themselves. First is Luna who in a comment to the Nadia’s mission report describes only one of the recruitment procedures she had to go through#:
“I filled the application which took me almost 3 days to complete (it consisted by around 30 demanding questions..) and I sent it with my CV. A month later they asked me on an interview (they didn’t accept a Skype meeting.. – so I needed to fly there), where I realised they haven’t taken any look neither at my cv or the application. We spent around 10-15 minutes to read my application during the interview time and then I had the feeling that they expected something completely different of me. The questions were asked had nothing to do with the position I was applying and at the end both sides, specially myself realise that we could never match.”
Following two stories, the first of Anca, and the second of Lyne, show that many employers and “human resource experts” are still not ready for a new kind of employees, who think and work “out of the box”.
“I have been told I have too much experience, I have been told I do not have any, I have been told I am to young or to old. I have been told I am way ahead of myself to be applying for a certain job, or not courageous enough to apply for another. […] I have been applying for jobs for 8 years in 3 countries and honestly I don`t have a clue what recruiters want. There can not be obviously a universal system of recruitment, but there are some best practice guidelines that recruiters seem to be forgetting. […] My mission is to transform my background into an asset. So far it has been a struggle, so in a way I have to believe that recruitment is like a lottery and that I am very very lucky. #“
“As an attempt to try to master how to fit in recruitment situations, since I wasn’t very successful at finding a job that corresponds to my curriculum, I thought that I might have been lacking skills in this particular field – job hunting – so I enrolled in two different job search programs this year. […] These women told me they had never seen a resume like mine. They said that I am a special case, a sort of strange phenomenon. Out of the box. These women did not know what to do with me “#
As a conclusion, I will cite Alberto’s# summing up of four recruitment processes he took part in a short period of time:
“My take home from the experience: formal recruitment processes seem to be useless for people with non-standard profiles as me.”
3. 2. “Significant others”, or how networks enable and empower people
At the beginning of this paper I stated that traditional “safety nets” provided by institutions more and more fail to support young people in starting their independent lives. Still, according to the Edgeryders engaged in creating a campaign “Bring on the allies”#, one traditional structure – a family, presents a significant ally in transitional periods. It is not a surprise since evidences suggest that the young Europeans tend to leave their parental homes later and later. Regarding the reasons for (late) leaving of the parental household, different analysts agree that for young adults’ co-residence with parents appears to be an important form of intergenerational support. This kind of arrangements vary from mainly financial support (covering the life and schooling costs) to the “whole package” – including financial support and dependence on parental “services” – providing a clean housing and a warm meal. The Eurobarometer survey#, conducted in 2007 on a sample of EU citizens aged 15-30, provides information on why young people stay longer than before at the parental home. However, it must be stressed out that the survey was conducted in 2007, therefore, before the economic crisis and the data presented by the survey might not be relevant any more. Still, they could be used as an illustration and reference to further analysis. According to this survey, most of the young Europeans list the financial reasons for staying with their parents – 44% holds that the young adults cannot afford to move out, while 28% believe there is not enough affordable housing. They are followed by 16% of those who give negative credits to the youth, believing that the young people today want all the comfort of living at home without having to bear the responsibilities. Country differences at the first level suggest that the respondents from the 12 new Member States are more likely to connect youth co-residing with their parents with high prices – not affordability of the housing. However, respondents in the EU-15 are more likely to explain youth dependence in housing by youth wish for comfort living without bearing responsibilities. At the national level, analysis shows that a lack of financial resources is the strongest reason why young people gain housing independence later on in 16 out of 27 countries. In this respect, young people from Greece, Hungary and Portugal (all around 60%) are more prone to selecting this reason than the others. A short supply of affordable housing has been put forward as the major reason in 10 other Member States, with the respondents from Lithuania (54%) and Spain (48%) leading.
Unlike family, another traditional structure supposed to provide support to the youth – governments, according to the mission reports of the Edgeryders, seem to be hesitant about offering support to businesses that are “too innovative”. Yet, there is a traditional institution that could be (at least some of its proponents) be supportive and give incentive to innovative minds. Such conclusion is suggested by Alberto in his mission report, where he presents another facet of university educational system, finding it useful for acquiring inner motivation for “radical exploration”#:
“In the second phase, starting at age 21-22, I found allies in a string of university professors that encouraged me to try out some out-of-the-box thinking. […] I am not an academic, and probably never will be. … But, along my journey, academia has been a very useful place for me to find space and help to think radically, beyond day-by-day work. The pattern has been to approach first-rate academics with specific and ambitious requests: I found out that they enjoy the intellectual kick they get from hanging out with people different from their own departmental tribes; and that they , will help if they can.”
After families, common allies in various endeavours of the Edgeryders members are peer networks, relying on reciprocity and mutual understanding and learning. Darren is one of the community members who got inspired by the social networks: #
“I’ve gained most of the inspiration and support to do more meaningful, fulfilling work through my readings and interactions on the internet. Through blogs, mail lists, IRC channels, web forums and social networks. I’ve mannaged to connect with people who see the bigger picture.”
Support essential to the active Edgeryders vary from moral support and advice, to help in providing shelter and food, to financial help. It seems that all these sources of help successfully function even in the times of economic recession (or, they function even better due to this crisis). However, financial help provided by immediate “significant others” – families, or social networks, often do not suffice to make foundation in pursuing opportunities that could bring to realisation of long-term plans for making meaningful and productive future. In other words, lack of economic support very often hinders young people in the entrepreneurial undertakings, and perpetuates wasting of the most important resource – people’s potentials.
3.3. Innovation and self-reinventing are essential to successful entrepreneurship
Encouraging entrepreneurship and innovation for young people is one of the strategies for enhancing European economy targeted by the “Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme 2007-2013”#. Since the beginning of economic crisis, entrepreneurship is attracting more and more attention at the European level, particularly as entrepreneurship of young people might both decrease youth unemployment and upgrade national economy assets. Entrepreneurship has been recognised as impetus for developing dynamic growing economy that can contribute to both social and economic growth and to personal development of the entrepreneurs and their collaborators. Still, youth entrepreneurship is mainly driven by existential reasons – most young people engage in entrepreneurial activities because they are unemployed and need a source for covering everyday life needs. According to the “Entrepreneurship in the EU and beyond” # Eurobarometer survey, the Europeans indicated lack of financial resources (81% agree or strongly agree) and administrative procedures (71% agree or strongly agree) as main barriers to entrepreneurship#. “Youth on the move”# Eurobarometer dedicated one of the sections to the youth entrepreneurial inclinations and here we bring the results. More than 40% of young respondents would like to set up their own business (43%), while 6% have already set up a business. Among the youth who do not want to set up their own business are mostly those who think it is too risky (14%) and those who hold it too complicated (13%). Almost twice less frequent are answers related to lack of financial resources (8%) and to not possessing adequate entrepreneurial skills (7%). Socio-demographic differences point to gender gap where 47% of young men and 39% of young women, said they would like to set up their own business. Decrease of interest is noticeable with increase of age; while 50% of 15-19 year-olds would like to start up a company, this rate went down to 34% among 30-35 year-olds. Educational differences imply that youth still in vocational and secondary education are more eager to start up a business (53% and 50%, respectively) than those still in higher education (47%). Young respondents who completed education also differ on their entrepreneurial intentions; youth with an upper secondary general education qualification (42%), or with a vocational qualification (40%), and respondents with a higher education qualification (40%) are more prone to start a company than those with a lower secondary qualification (35%) or youth who had left school before completing lower secondary education (also 35%).
We must be aware that the Eurobarometer date present “an average” European, whose strivings might not be anything like those of the Edgeryders. And although the Eurostat# data show that only around 6% of all young (age 15-29) Europeans are engaged in entrepreneurship, here we have very different sample of young people. Therefore, it is nice and very useful to follow a story of Alberto Masetti-Zannini, who in a campaign “Spotlight: social innovation” # uses a comparison to the “Alice in the Wonderland” to describe his trajectory from employee in the international company, via employee in the Amnesty International (NGO) to entrepreneurship. In his endeavours Alberto takes care to keep integrity and autonomy:
“The deeper I descended – like Alice – into the employment world and the NGO sector, the more I became disenchanted and skeptical. […] These days, I tend to juggle my entrepreneurial role with my consulting experience. It’s back-breaking, but it’s very satisfying. I miss not having a team though, and the social aspects of work that I enjoyed in the past. Becoming an entrepreneur wasn’t a planned decision. […] In conclusion: what do I look for in a job? Today – having gone through the rabbit hole and come out the other way – I look for meaning and purpose. I only want to do things that fit into a bigger scheme, and that make sense for our future.”
Similarly to Alberto, Tiago in his mission report “I’ve got a plan” # seeks to find a more profound meaning of his professional life. He quotes Polly LaBarre:
“[…] we need to “reimagine a profoundly principled, fundamentally patient, and socially accountable capitalism”. […] That is exactly where I stand. At the intersection between people and businesses.”
Even a superficial look at the social structure, background and networks of the Edgeryders makes us realise that they are truly an elite capable of starting new projects and processes. They posses enormous social capital and are well aware of it, while carefully nurturing social relations that could help them to build more sensible communities and businesses. James# is one of such members of the Edgeryders community:
“We realise now that the most valuable technology that is being discarded by our society is PEOPLE. We are seeing talented, skilled people unmobilised, and we think that this is a criminal waste. We also see deeply uninspiring, value-free jobs (like working in call centres) as the only structural answer put forward by mainstream business and industry, and we want people to work with us to develop more inspiring, creative, engaging, and socially valuable jobs as an alternative.”
Power of the Edgeryders, among others, lies in their “nerve” for innovation; innovation is a mere essence of the processes they are going through, starting from arranging private lives, via education, to professional life. Justin Brown explains how collaborative innovation today presents an added value:#:
“[…] We believe the global shift towards a knowledge economy requires a new form of collaborative innovation. With increasingly limited resources available for traditional research and development, there is an imperative for research institutions, corporations and individuals to collaborate in generating and executing innovative ideas.”
However, innovative minds find it very difficult to act in a restricted world of administrative burdens and a lack of understanding of their resources and potentials. There are many new forms of making economic values that do not receive any support from the standard political and economic establishment. Most of them were a subject of discussion during the Edgeryders June conference. It was of the utmost importance for all contributors to the new entrepreneurial forms to meet with the policy makers and try to deliver their message. Some of the topics, like crowd funding, crowd matching, angel investors, basic income, barter currencies and time banking could indeed be used as “wildcards” in reinventing and boosting European economy. This conference session was a very invigorating one, and also well prepared. Some members of the Edgeryders communities worked really hard in preparing a platform for discussion, like demsoc, who started a “Dear Funders” letter#, elaborating crucial elements for reaching mutual understanding between innovative entrepreneurs, policy makers and funders. Here are some of his ideas:
“Lots of innovators have to take temporary work to fund their lives while they develop their ideas, but finding temporary work is time-consuming. Rather than providing cash for spending, funders could support people’s living expenses for a certain period of time – like a bursary or a sabbatical from a university.
Challenge-driven funding models can encourage the creation of solutions that actually work. Small grants could be given to a number of applicants to enable them to develop advanced prototypes, and following waves of funding would only be available for the most promising ones. This kind of ‘create-then-fund’ mechanism makes money follow results, not the opposite, crowding away the ‘experts in proposal-writing’ and attracting the innovative ‘doers’.
We don’t (always) want your money. We’re looking for ways to match resources across different ideas and projects, and bring in-kind support from communities that benefit from our innovations.”
Patrick Davenne ssummed up ideas and disputes that were revealed during the “Meet the policy maker” June conference session#:
“Another proposal quite like to be immediately forgotten was the creation of a startup support programme similar to that established by President Obama in the US. That was quite easily (and frighteningly) turned down with a single sentence: Society is changing. Quite an interesting choice of words, as what it meant was that there is no intention of funding programmes to promote innovation via startup creation, which in turn would likely increase employment and, thus, European countries’ internal markets, making the economies of the EU in general a more solid and survivable model than the current “all you need is austerity” trend. But such is life, sometimes you win one, sometimes you don’t. Many of those present in the session were doers, people who see something wrong and just go ahead and fix it.”
The members of the Edgeryders community put a lot of time and efforts in trying to make their perspective more familiar to the researchers, policy makers and broader audience. Their messages are really strong and it would be unjustified to try to replace them by some other wording. Therefore, I will finish this section by a call made by Alberto Masetti-Zannini:#
“A little social innovation in the policy world could really change the lives of millions of people. Policy-makers: what are you waiting for to really support social innovation?”
3.4. Summary of the Edgeryders’ perspectives on making a living
As we have seen in this paper, contemporary world has put new challenges ahead young people, they are immersed in a constantly changing context that does not provide them any substantial institutional support. Due to such difficulties young people are aware they have to keep redefining their reality on and on, reinventing themselves and their aspirations. Some of the paradigms valid for a generation of their parents, like the prevalence of a “9-5” working time, have ceased. Noemi explains a process of redefining adapted by many Edgeryders:#
“[…] redefine the term JOB so as to move towards what we understand as PAID WORK: not necessarily long-term, not necessarily repetitive, not associated with routine, not associated with security.”
Young people frequently feel unappreciated, they feel their efforts are not valorised and they feel like the “older” generations are taking advantage of them (previously elaborated example of internships). Based on the mission reports written by the members of the Edgeryders community, we can sum up the risks new generations are facing:
anxiety because of unstable social and economic prospects
exploitation when trapped in a low paid work they do not want to perform
marginalisation because of stepping aside of “traditional transitional pathways”
criminalisation because of employing patterns who are not familiar to the traditional structures and stakeholders (like occupying spaces).
Related to risks, there are several cross-sectional issues emerged from the Edgeryders’ stories in all campaigns. They are especially pronounced in the “Making a living campaign”:
frustration and disappointment with “traditional working experience”
over-qualification (high supply of highly educated, so employers can afford hiring over-qualified)
taking part in a constant process of redefining social and economic contexts and reinventing yourself
generation clash – new generation has embraced a paradigm of social innovation, which the “older” generations still find difficult to understand
integrity and autonomy – importance of balance between doing something interesting and making money
importance of (online) social networks and peer-to-peer learning.
In the following section I will try to give a contribution to one of the main aims of the Egderyders project – establishing a platform for mutual understanding and direct cooperation between citizens and policy makers.
4. Policy 2.0.: objects becoming creators of new framework for decision making
The title of this chapter came out of Emiliano’s statement about a need for establishing “Policy 2.0” #, that requires a bridging of local, regional, national and international scale issues through the digital tools Edgeryders are already adept at employing. One of the strongest impressions about the members of the Edgeryders community is that they are “the doers”. They felt an urge for change and they decided to completely take over managing their personal histories. They have realised that the traditional institutional structures cannot provide support they are requiring. Two Edgeryers – Ben Vickers and Cataspanglish described it in a very concise ways:
“She feels that most of the policy makers and institutions are really far away from understanding the experience of people who have grown up with the Internet as a normal part of their lives.” #
“However for the most part we want to change things, we’d like to create positive change but as it currently stands the jobs, institutions and organisations available to us, do not appear to have the frameworks or courage to instigate that change and until they do we’re unlikely to build any meaningful allegiances.” #
And here is where the Council of Europe and its Social Cohesion division established a project for overcoming a huge gap between the European youth and formal structures that pose constraints to their private and professional aspirations. Three primary aims presented in the chapter 1.1. shall be completed with the fourth one – restoring trust of the (young) European citizens in the European institutions. Therefore, societies in general and policy makers and practitioners have to establish a system of “safety-nets” that could help the youth to achieve their potentials. During the entire process citizens who were mere objects of the policy making will be (re)transformed into subjects and creators of policies. This idea is in the core of the “citizens-experts” paradigm, a leading paradigm of this project, and hopefully, of future European policy making. As Darren says it, we should
“collaboratively build new economic power” #.
Or, as Charanya Chidambaram#proposes it:
“Network economy – the 3rd option that was most voiced is the idea of a network economy that connects dots in silos and creates a thriving environment to collaborate, share skills, create alternative methods of self-sustainability. In this scenario, the individual becomes his or her own resource and works to benefit oneself through collaboration. Within this idea of network economy, the exchange can happen is two ways – 1. Pure barter: e.g. “I will design your website for space to live”; 2. Create a new kind of organization that is multi- or trans-dsiciplnary thus changing the traditional models and create employment within this new model for the growing number of hybrids (this is also attached to entrepreneurship).”
At the personal level, Edgeryders are committed to “making things right” – to keeping integrity and not betraying their values. They strongly adhere to the values of post-materialism, which is presented by James Wallbank, who declared that “paying is so last century”, indicating feelings of many Edgeryders. On the other side, they feel a pressure to conform to the existing framework of norms. The Edgeryders are aware that “jobs for life” paradigm is no more valid. Still, although they are aware of such a context, and although their plans do not necessarily include gaining material values, they do know they need some cash flow. As Edwin says#:
“I don’t want money for its own sake, but I don’t want to get kicked out of my apartment either so I’ll need some.”
On a wider “Policy 2.0” level, the researchers have a task to suggest steps for bridging gaps between the Edgeryders perspectives and traditional youth policy guidelines and infrastructures. Our task has been made easier by the Edgeryders’ rich inputs. One of the major differences between Youth Policy and Edgeryders lies in the orientation of traditional policy to the youth as “objects”, making them “subjects” only through indirect channels, like membership in the NGOs. The Edgeryders are not a coherent community, joined under any specific umbrella; they are rather scattered dots in a wide network. The Edgeryders are emerging force whose aspirations and preferences should not be neglected. Contemporary world is changing under rapid speed and our societies need people who are capable of fast adaptations and creating prototypes of cooperation and production. Still, it has to be noted that the profile of the Edgeryders differ to a great extent from those of “an average” young European. Most Edgeryders come from the Western Europe, where the institutional contexts enabling relatively successful integration of youth in society have been established and working for decades. Additionally, Edgeryders have knowledge and skills of substituting traditional institutions and infrastructures with new models. Most young Europeans have no such luck. And their voice is missing here. Voice of the youth from the Eastern and partly of the Southern Europe, voice of youth from small rural areas, voice of youth with no or limited access to the online media. Also, since the Edgeryders project is based on online technologies, it is clear that non-tech-savvy communities and those who use online media only for consumption are excluded. For this reason, a traditional concept of “policy making” and youth policies should not be abandoned. A great deal of young people in contemporary Europe still needs help of institutions in employment and entrepreneurship. Very often, traditional structures and institutions are their only means to “make a living”.
Another disclaimer is related to the concept of “European”. Although the European policy (both of the European Commission and of the Council of Europe) is well established, and trying to monitor progress at the national level, the varieties in the national policies on youth in area of “making a living” make it very difficult to create reassuring conditions for implementation of the Edgeryders’ aspirations. In other words, since policy and initiatives occur at the “real” national/regional/local level, the EC and the CoE already face difficulties in implementation of “traditional” policies. The Edgeryders project and the Edgeryders’ members, although transnational in their character, are limited by narrow national contexts. The members of the Edgeryders community revealed almost exclusively negative experiences with established infrastructures and institutions. Therefore, bridging of the Edgeryders and their aspirations and existing institutions in the fields of concern for the Edgeryders is not possible via traditional structures. Instead, a kind of hybrid spaces shall be formed around common interests. And right here a tremendous effort is required in order to enable different context for realisation of innovative ideas of the members of the Edgeryders community. The members of the Edgeryders community see opportunities in creating alternative spaces, not guided by the public policy institutions, but by common interest and networking technologies. During this process, we have to be aware that the traditional institutions, although slow in their processes and not prone to take risks, have channels to force their decisions into action at greater efficiency than the civil initiatives. Since the members of the Edgeryders community, based on their own experiences, displayed reluctance in relying on traditional institutions, these institutions should make additional efforts and reach to the communities like the Edgeryders, providing them support in creating new social infrastructures based on common interests. I emphasized the power of the Edgeryders community several times, and although we are aware they are so powerful that they are prototyping new society, they still can not succeed in this endeavor without institutional support. And although it sound very simple – policy makers should create enabling context, not trying to suppress innovative ideas – we are aware this process is going to be very difficult and long-lasting. At the same time, we hope that the members of the Edgeryders and similar communities will not loose their spirit, energy, and good will to base their cooperation on commons and sharing.
When it comes to specifically “making a living”, the policy makers and politicians are lately very much in favour of “flexicurity”, a term officially described as: “an integrated strategy for enhancing, at the same time, flexibility and security in the labour market. It attempts to reconcile employers’ need for a flexible workforce with workers’ need for security – confidence that they will not face long periods of unemployment” . Although over twenty years old, this term has come into fashion only last couple of years, with strike of economic crisis. Policy makers in the field of youth are especially fond of this term, using it as a magical tool for creating new, more human working environment. But, when it comes to the members of the Edgeryders community, it is not perceived as ultimate tool for making the European labour market better place to work and live. Edgeryders are ready to redefine a “job” and they, to a great extent (although not exclusively), do not expect to be given a job. They would like the basic prerequisites to be set in order to enable them to create opportunities for themselves – to make a living on their own, under their conditions. Such opportunities are numerous – they span from combining paid work, volunteering, “classical” entrepreneurship, help of network of angel investors, basic income idea, barter currencies, time banking, etc.
Here I would like to summarize my thoughts about bridging gaps between traditional policy and the Edgeryders’ perspectives (Policy 2.0.), by listing four components:
1. A media creating new platforms for exchange of ideas and building new institutional structures – internet, which does not have to be additionally elaborated;
2. Stakeholders (actors)
– young people as defined in traditional terms (by age)
– Europeans who are not “young” by definition, but still belong to the Edgeryders’ and similar communities and share experiences and ideas with the young Edgeryders
-policy makers and politicians at international and national level (remember that many actions still occur at real-national contexts)
– youth NGOs, national youth councils and the European Youth Forum. It should be noted that the EYF and the national youth councils were mostly missing from building the Edgeryders project. This should be changed if we want to reach youth so far excluded from this platform – the youth from the Eastern and the Southern Europe, the youth with limited internet resources, the youth not prone to online networking, etc.
– open and mutually supportive dialogue between traditional stakeholders (like policy makers) and emerging ones (like social innovators)
– Existing instruments, like structured dialogue in the field of youth, should not be avoided.
4. Meeting points
Hybrid spaces, providing enabling context for realisation of the Edgeryders’ endeavours, where the members of the Edgeryders and similar communities would not feel hindered by strict administrative and institutional frameworks.
Internet and social networks are foundations of the Edgeryders project, and the dots in foundation of the Edgeryders community. So is the Edgeryders’ awareness of importance of connecting local actions with the global issues. They are transformative force in a relatively rigid policy context. Their social capital, their energy and innovative minds are key engines here, and the European policy makers should not be hesitant to use (but not abuse) them.
The final summary is related to six crucial concepts/characteristics common to the most of Edgeryders. These concepts/personal traits of the Edgeryders are main drivers of their prosperity, their coping strategies with the harsh reality and their “wildcards” for better future:
The Edgeryders are using their “wildcards” employing the community of peers, while building solidarity through shared experiences. Hopefully, their experiences and examples of good practice will resonate with the political and economic agendas. If not, not only the Edgeryders project, but also the meaningful and prosperous European future, are at stake. As Patrick Davenne said it#
“All this creates an environment where youth in Europe may be highly creative and motivated, but find almost insurmountable complications to realize their dreams and hopes. This is nothing new, in fact, and has happened in prior generations as well, but the lack of an adequate employment infrastructure in current Europe makes the simple dream of getting a job and getting by a practical impossibility. Against this, the response of the Edgeryders community is going on their own and proposing solutions and responses to current problems.”
My impression is that the (young) European citizens have earned trust of the policy makers through passionate dedication to the Edgeryders project. They were bold enough to reveal their fears and hopes, and wise enough to share their examples of good practice and they shall get credits for that. Now the policy makers, with the help of researchers, have to truly recognise the Edgeryders undertakings and set new steps towards real “evidence based policy”. Policy that would enable using potential of the citizens’ expertise and drive for active engagement in the public processes. The Edgeryders project should be used as a prototype of productive communication among citizens, researchers and policy makers. It is a prototype of enabling innovative and open-minded policy spaces, where citizens can contribute to the public good by their personal non-material resources. Citizens/the Edgeryders’ community members have already shown their responsiveness. And so did some of the policy makers (the Council of Europe). Now the floor is open to other stakeholders. After all, “Agenda 2020”#, an official policy-making and political European programme, aims at smart, sustainable and inclusive growth of the EU. Therefore, the benefits that could be gained through the platforms like the Edgeryders are immeasurable.
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