1 Response on the Green paper; Promoting the learning mobility of young people Learning by leaving a joint conference for European mobility networks, was arranged in Uppsala on the of November 2009, in association with the Swedish presidency of the European Union. The conference was aimed at networking and cooperation between representatives of the Europass, Euroguidance, Eurodesk and EURES networks. The focus of the conference was mobility in Europe today and how the mobility networks can cooperate in order to reach better results within three main themes: Mobility for young people with fewer opportunities How to reach young audiences Making use of international experiences An important objective, connected to these themes, was also to discuss some of the questions raised in the EU Green paper on mobility in order to feed into the consultation process. The Conference was arranged in cooperation between The International Programme Office for Education and Training (host of Europass and Euroguidance), The Swedish National Board for Youth Affairs (host of Eurodesk) and The Swedish Public Employment Service (host of EURES). There were about 160 participants from 32 countries in Europe, representing the different mobility networks. Beneath are the summaries and conclusions from the discussions of these networks. We have kept the numbering of the questions from the Green paper to make it easier to locate the answers. We believe that the different mobility networks have an important role to fulfil in promoting learning mobility of young people and therefore, at the end of this response, we also include a summary from discussions on how cooperation between the mobility networks can support an expanding mobility for young people. For more information on the conference and for contact information, please visit 1. PREPARING FOR A PERIOD OF LEARNING MOBILITY 1.1. Information and Guidance How can the availability of information and guidance related to mobility be improved? The number one solution to this question, from all workshop discussions on the topic, was that cooperation between the mobility networks should be developed. Such cooperation would help to reach out to the businesses that are so important in order for young people to be able to make use of international experiences. Cooperation between the networks would also help in reaching the young people in need of information and guidance regarding validation and recognition. Another important aspect is that multipliers, such as teachers, trainers, youth workers and guidance counsellors, need to be aware of the other side of mobility ; it is not only important to promote mobility, but also to inform about the steps that needs to be taken after a mobility period. The multipliers should help young people to make use of their new skills, by helping them to put words on their experiences and validate both the
2 formal and informal learning that they have gained, during their studies or work placement abroad. In order to enable cooperation between the agencies, all the agencies should be aware of the other agencies different agendas concerning mobility action. Clarifying the specific goals and what collaborative measures that can be done, is a first step to improve the external information and guidance of the agencies mobility actions. The clarifications and information sharing should also include those that work with young people directly. Using young role models that have been involved in mobility actions can be seen as an essential part when improving the availability and guidance related to mobility. Key Messages: The agencies need to find synergies between the different mobility networks and the systems for recognition and validation, such as Europass and ENIC-NARIC. Assure that the knowledge about the different mobility agendas that the agencies have, is common knowledge in all the agencies and to the youth workers. There should be a One stop shop or a European call centre for all mobility networks in order to make it easier for the users to find the services provided. This Web portal should include information about the official agencies (Europass, Eures, Eurodesk and Euroguidance) and linking to the various networks in the different countries and contact persons on local level. Other networks than the official agencies should also be included. The European dimension, including mobility related issues, such as validation and recognition of competencies, should be included in the education of multipliers, such as teachers, trainers, youth workers and guidance counsellors. The reinforcement of the local and individual counselling is especially important for disadvantaged groups of young people Promotion and motivation What can be done to better promote and motivate young people to be mobile? There is a need to be more creative when talking about meeting places. Meeting places can be both virtual and physical. Eurodesk, Eures, Euroguidance and Europass need to become better at choosing more appropriate channels for the audience we have in mind (i.e. music festivals, sport events, virtual networks). And it is necessary that the European Commission and National Authorities provide the four mobility networks with appropriate means to accomplish this. It is of importance that mobility providers join the forums and use the channels that young people already use. Facebook is an example of one channel where there already is an extensive flow of young people using it and there is also the possibility to place links, film clips etc. It is also important that information is provided in a language that appeals to the diversity of young people. Radio is another example for raising awareness of different mobility opportunities for young people. The workshop discussed Norway as a good example of how to use radio as a promotion resource to reach young people. Promotion of peer learning has proven to be a useful and effective tool to inspire, motivate and support learning mobility. But the peers need to have fresh and updated experience in order to inspire and coach others, and not an experience that is 15 years old. Mobility providers need to be better at showing good examples and to use young people who have been abroad as role models when promoting mobility. Young people
3 often say that they think European Programmes are difficult. i.e. difficult to apply for, and the language is too bureaucratic (information/applications). Cooperation between agencies (LLP/YIA etc) and institutions, youth workers, multipliers, ex-beneficiaries, ex-volunteers etc. is an essential when it comes to promoting mobility among young people Information about the different EU programmes and about mobility should be integrated with the policies of secondary schools and universities. Learning about mobility possibilities should be integrated in the curriculum in a national context. There is also a need of active involvement of school career advisors and guidance counsellors, who should encourage learning mobility. It is very important to offer adequate training and information to multipliers so that they themselves can give good information and be inspiring to young people. Mobility providers and multipliers, as well as the YIA and LLP agencies, can for example promote group mobility in youth exchanges or other activities. Group activities can be seen as a first step into learning mobility, with the motto if you can do it together, you may later do it yourself. It is important to recognise that information material like brochures, web pages and film clips never can replace the impact that personal contacts have. Information material should be considered as a significant complement for promotion of mobility, but the material must be relevant for the diverse target groups. Mobility providers can support young ambassadors, ex-volunteers and other beneficiaries with international experience more actively. The ambassadors can be used to present and promote mobility information and programmes in a more appealing way. What do you see as the main barriers to the motivation of young people to become mobile? There is a concern about the main barriers (personal and sociological barriers) to mobility and there is also a general language barrier that needs to be considered. Individual and practical matters like insurances, family issues, economy and housing can be limitations that need to be considered. In certain contexts mobility is considered to be prone to elitism and therefore there is a need to more actively support the young people with fewer opportunities. There is a lack of sufficient information about opportunities like studying and working abroad. The agencies and youth workers should be encouraged to work together finding solutions addressing this information issue. The funding application processes is bureaucratic and difficult and this process could be simplified to make mobility a possibility for all young people that want it. There need to be a better access to funding and a better support in the application processes, especially when addressing young people with fewer opportunities. Application processes should also be simplified, more flexible and offer more tailor-made possibilities and opportunities to go abroad. The European Commission should also consider special groups of young people where personal barriers limit their opportunities for learning mobility i.e. being a young parent, lack of financial means.
4 1.3. Languages and culture How can the linguistic and cultural obstacles to mobility be best addressed? The language barrier is a significant problem that needs to be addressed. Mobility providers and multipliers need to reinforce better language learning support systems directly connected to mobility activities. Young people should have access to language support systems (i.e. mentor, training, cultural coaches, feed-back) before during and after their mobility activity Mobility to and from the European Union What more should be done to promote mobility to and from the European Union? The promotion of mobility outside Europe is an issue that should involve all the European agencies, involved in the work of promoting mobility. One method of promotion of mobility outside Europe is to use good examples, role models and personal testimonials. Mobility outside of European Union is a more complicated issue than mobility within European Union. The question: is there really a political wish for this? was raised. There are many issues (problems and possibilities) about promotion of mobility that depends on how disadvantaged young people are defined. There is also the issue concerning the less extensive support systems that can be used, and the different demands that will be put on the young people, when they want to travel out of the European Union. This is a big, more or less political, issue which was hard to answer for the mobility networks. Instead, many questions were raised; What kind of mobility from other parts of the world does Europe want? Isn t Europe building barriers instead of tearing them down? In some countries there are national programmes focusing on student exchange with third world countries. Should such programmes also be developed on a common EU level? Who is gaining from the mobility to and from the European Union does it contribute to brain drain from poor countries to the rich world? One thing seems to be clear; if we are to increase mobility to and from the European Union, the financial support is a key issue. There are big obstacles that needs to be removed immigration laws, visa and financial issues. Increased funding is a prerequisite. The agencies and youth workers need to be more effective in reaching/approaching youngsters from countries outside the EU. This could be done by improving the cooperation between different information providers, by creating a One stop shop where people can get answers about mobility opportunities. Recognition of the learning from mobility periods outside the EU has to be improved. For instance, young people doing a period of voluntary service outside the EU will not qualify for support when they get back home we should encourage them to leave instead of discourage and punish them. All agencies should make a collaborative effort to promote mobility outside Europe and this should be funded by the European Commission. Awareness and promotion should be done by using good examples of mobility activities outside Europe.
5 There is a need to simplify the bureaucracy for visa processes leaving the European Union (for European citizens) as well as entering the European Union (for foreign citizens) as to simplify the bureaucracy for the mobility programmes within each European country Reaching out to Disadvantaged Groups Which are the most important difficulties encountered by disadvantaged groups with regard to learning mobility? Disadvantaged young people lack knowledge in what to gain and learn from mobility activities and can experience difficulties in finding the confidence leaving a secure environment (i.e. family, friends and significant others). A more individual approach in the different EU programmes is needed to build up necessary personal relationships and support systems that can guide the young people through the entire mobility process. There are established support systems in society where economical, social, educational, geographical, cultural and ethnical backgrounds are taken into consideration. It is necessarily to identify where these support structures fails to meet the individual needs of the disadvantaged young people. Key Messages: Young people s need to be addressed with information that speaks to their situation in life, especially when dealing with disadvantaged groups. It is important to produce targeted, clear, and easy to understand information in a way and in a language that make sense from various perspectives of young people. Good preparation is one key element in reducing the language barrier. Targeted language courses as well as cultural preparation are important to build up the motivation, understanding and courage before the activity. EU programmes should be more flexible, easy to adapt and adjustable to fit individual needs of especially disadvantaged groups. Youth workers have a closer relationship to the target group and have the possibility to build up the necessarily personal relationship to the individuals and to identify what support is required for learning mobility. Their role should be recognised and supported by both EU and national programmes 2. THE STAY ABROAD AND FOLLOW-UP 2.2. Recognition and Validation In your experience, is the validation and recognition of both formal and non-formal learning still a significant obstacle to mobility? Validation and recognition of formal learning is not a big obstacle anymore, even if there might be some problems in specific sectors, like recognised professions within the health sector. The problem remains when it comes to validation and recognition of non-formal learning. This is partly due to the fact that most employers are not aware or haven t found the means to recognise non-formal learning. The groups discussed the definition of the terms validation and recognition. They had different meanings to different networks and one of the workshop groups discussed where the words actually came from and what the actual meaning of them were.
6 It is also important to have a common understanding of the existing tools for validation and recognition. One group highlighted the difficulty of understanding the different validation-tools. If the people that work with these tools have trouble in understanding them, how can we expect the business sector and individuals to understand them? We should also learn more about how to communicate international experience! Already existing tools might be of help and we should implement, use and improve these tools. Key messages Europass needs to be further developed. Employers should be more involved in this development. For example, the Europass CV is too long we should have both a short and a long version of the CV. In addition, more tools for self assessment should be included in Europass. Still, especially Europass mobility is a good tool for bilateral cooperation, and it should be compulsory to issue Europass for all who undertake a learning period abroad. There is a need for common understanding of the European definitions being used in the area of recognition and validation. Especially non-formal learning needs a European definition (a common basic/standard terminology). The validation process of skills required in a non-formal context should be formalised. More collaboration is needed in the field (between networks, between countries), maybe through round-table discussions on European level to find better solutions, as recognition and validation are very much building on trust for each others educations. International experience should be communicated more actively to employers as well as to multipliers by using success stories. 3. A NEW PARTNERSHIP FOR MOBILITY 3.1.MOBILISING ACTORS AND RESOURCES How can all actors and resources at national, regional and local levels be better mobilised in the interest of youth mobility? Mobility information providers have different bodies from where they act. Different directorates within the European Commission as well as different governmental bodies on national level provide the networks with diverse sources of information that aim to fit different target groups. Often this suits the communication with a diverse group of young end users, but sometimes it is also contra productive. A need of pooling resources and making smarter use of what information is already there was identified. There should be more information sessions about the different mobility agendas and responsibilities of networks. This can provide better opportunities for the agencies to think outside the box and a better understanding for the national structures of mobility providers. The bureaucracy of existing programmes is a barrier to overcome for youth workers, multipliers and the young people themselves. Information and education how to deal with these difficulties should be addressed to suit both the institutions and users. The access to the programmes and information how to overcome the barriers of bureaucracy should be easy and user friendly. There is a need among youth workers and significant others to increase their knowledge how to inform their target group about the various possibilities and challenges in mobility issues.
7 There should be more job shadowing opportunities between the mobility networks which are supported by the European Commission and National Authorities. The European Commission should support and emphasize the need of regular meetings and seminars for multipliers, youth workers at a European and national level, which can encourage and enhance regional and local networking (for the networks themselves). Joint organisation of external activities by the networks should be implemented on regular basis for example, on job-fairs that are arranged by EURES should include representatives from other mobility networks. The networks should consider each other taking part of the annual meetings within the networks for example, when Eurodesk meet annually, representatives from other European mobility networks should be included. Youth workers need recourses, knowledge and tools to identify whom the target groups are and how to meet their requirements, in order to enable finding the right ways and arguments how to motivate into mobility activities. There is a need to reduce barriers of access to mobility activities by providing targeted information about EU, national and regional programmes or initiatives to youth workers, significant others and young people. Encourage national governments to provide the necessary social protection that makes it possible for disadvantaged young people to take part in mobility activities and EU programmes. Specific target groups should be positively discriminated. Which means that disadvantaged groups in mobility programmes should be prioritised and supported on a structural level (i.e. have a certain percentage reserved for this group) More active involvement from the business world How can businesses be motivated to become more strongly involved in youth mobility? The networks considered that the business sector is essential for succeeding in their work, but that it is a very difficult task to motivate the business sector to become more strongly involved in youth mobility. They also believed that motivation differs between big businesses and Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) and that there might be a difference in attitudes towards incoming or outgoing mobility. Perform impact studies on the European level. There is a need for success stories to showcase the importance of mobility to the businesses and highlight their gain from it. SME`s don t have the knowledge. Increase their awareness! Involve the businesses in order to find out what their needs are. Support the businesses in avoiding obstacles so that both the businesses and the youth can benefit from mobility Motivate the businesses through financial means, public awards or other benefits.
8 3.3. Virtual Networking and etwinning How can we best make use of ICTs to provide valuable virtual mobility opportunities to enrich the physical mobility? All levels of the societies (local, regional and national) should be aware of the social and economical benefits when working with mobility. There is also a need to be better of explaining this, showing proof and statistics of financial and social benefits. Young people love to hear about other young people s experiences and it should be made easier to tell your story virtually using ICTs. The tools that have been provided by the European Commission are not popular among young people and they already use numerous virtual communication sources and methods. It is important to make use of examples that are put into a national context, in order to create comfort zones and make it easier for the young people to identify themselves with. The usage if ICTs as a virtual mobility opportunity should be seen only as a complement for actual physical mobility, and not as a substitute. The discussion highlighted that game simulators, Online tests, small interactive tests like Am I ready to go abroad?, can be used to raise the awareness and motivation about mobility activities. A more active engagement in various discussion forums, blogs, podcasts etc. that already exists can be seen as more useful way to use the channels and sources that already exist, rather than creating new ICT forums. Key Messages: Develop the possibilities to use IT tools (blogs, social networks etc.) and make use of the already existing information and communication channels/sources that are being used by the young people. Make decision makers on all levels (local, regional and national) aware of the social and economical benefits of mobility (opportunities, cultural awareness and knowledge). Include physical and/or virtual mobility in secondary education by using ICT tools like for example etwinning. Make use of Facebook or Twitter and other popular channels and create applications for young people that can be used to promote or support mobility activities. ICT:s provides tools and opportunities but the European Commission must recognize and understand the importance of face-to-face communication and provide the financial resources needed. The mobility networks should be able to offer the opportunity of livechats with advisors and counsellors, for young people to be able to receive instant feedback and support Engaging the "multipliers" Should mobility opportunities for "multipliers" (teachers, trainers, youth workers, etc.) be given additional support and prominence in European programmes? Multipliers (teachers, trainers, youth workers, guidance counsellors etc.) have an important role to play in promoting mobility and helping young people to make use of their international competencies. Therefore mobility opportunities for the multipliers should be given additional support in the European programmes in order to motivate them and increase their knowledge. Today teachers and trainers can find financial support within the Comenius, Leonardo and Grundtvig programmes and youth workers can apply for grants within the Youth in action
9 programme. Guidance counsellors do not have the same opportunities within the existing programmes. There is lack of information and promotion of mobility opportunities for multipliers and this should definitely be given additional support in European programmes. Cross border cooperation between the networks needs to be more open and transparent than they are, about the activities and possibilities of the different networks. Multipliers and youth workers should take part in mobility activities themselves. Mobility activities are an important factor for the multipliers to gain new experience and knowledge about benefits and demands of what is needed in the society. In this way learning mobility gives multipliers and youth workers additional arguments which help them to motivate and inspire young people. YES, mobility opportunities for "multipliers should be given additional support and prominence in European programmes. Personal experience increases credibility when promoting mobility (better understanding, etc). Individual funding for mobility is often asked for and should be made possible A web portal for the multipliers to use should be established (both on a national and international level) There may be other professions than teachers and trainers that should have better mobility opportunities. Guidance counsellors are one example. International emphasis in the teaching should be developed. When the European networks arrange national conferences significant others should also be invited, to multiply the effect of dissemination and exploitation of the mobility information. Significant others can be considered to be important multipliers and should also be recognised as such. This is a way to adapt European information to a national context. Dissemination of information is more effective if it is targeted, and if it is reaching the appropriate multipliers who are essential to make an impact. There should be additional funding for teachers and youth workers who engage themselves in learning mobility. The European Commission need to recognize and give prominence to learning mobility by increasing the status for teachers going abroad. Going abroad should be recognized as a professional merit, and not a strain on financial means or social benefits. There should be laws implemented which guarantees that for example teachers, youth workers who are going on placements abroad have a job to come back to. OTHER COMMENTS At the conference the workshops also discussed how cooperation between the networks could be developed and increased, with a special focus on the themes. Please see the summary below: What types of cooperation could be initiated between mobility networks in order to improve mobility in general and mobility for young people with fewer opportunities in particular? There is very little cooperation between the different actors that are working with mobility, and a mobilization of all these actors is a key factor. There is a need for better understanding of and information sharing between the different mobility agencies, but there is also a need to clearly identify the various actors for the young people.
10 The difference of status between formal education and non-formal/informal education is a problem that needs to be addressed with a joint cooperation of the agencies and through the possibilities of a common communication network. Key Messages: A mobilization of the cooperation between the agencies should be implemented by creating forums and continuous opportunities for discussions, sharing good practices and information, both on a national level and on an international level. A first step of cooperation, and to enhance networking, could be to implement a structure of cross border mobility, with clusters of countries that are geographically near each other. There is a need for recognition and increased support for the role of NGOs, youth services, host and intermediary organizations. What types of cooperation could be initiated between mobility networks in order to better make use of international experiences? Many of the participants thought that the main reason for coming to the conference was to learn more about the other mobility networks and to explore the possibilities for cooperation. Therefore, this was the question that the participants wanted to discuss the most and something that they really engaged in. Knowledge of the different networks was considered important in order to help the clients in a more efficient way. Consequently, there is a need for common resources, such as joint events, common standpoints, websites and booklets. Cooperation and networking between the mobility networks might also let the networks grow stronger within the European mobility context. Voices were also raised to extend the mobility networks by including third world countries and to extend network conferences by including all sectors. Joint events for the mobility networks should be arranged on a regular basis, perhaps initiated by each presidency. Meetings between the mobility networks should also be arranged more often on a national level. A One stop shop or common European portal or joint information package or European House, offering only one way in for the clients, should be created The mobility networks should be made more visible, as supporting and promoting tools for mobility, alongside the different programmes offering financial support. Common European platforms, like Eve and Adam, could be used. Joint trainings could be a way of learning about each other as well as informing each other on a regular basis.
11 What types of cooperation could be initiated between mobility networks in order to better reach young people? The workshop discussed the various opportunities that the agencies and networks have when using websites and links on the websites. The discussion was also focused on the need for joint trainings for all the networks and/or the multipliers. But there also need to be joint conferences on national level where information and contacts can be shared. In a few countries there are examples of already existing cooperation s between the mobility networks which can be used as good examples for others. The European commission should support conferences for the different networks, so that they can come together and discuss significant issues and discuss how to support each other. For example the Learning by Leaving conference in Sweden in November 2009 where the following four networks took part: EURES, Europass, Euroguidance and Eurodesk. The European Commission support national agencies with tools and funding to create interactive forums, where the target groups in question can reach and interact with the various, actors, and the networks. The target groups for these interactive forums should be the people who influence people, i.e. multipliers, teachers, decision makers etc. The organisation of more face to face events, for example mobility fairs, for young people where the many different mobility networks can show all the different possibilities that are available, should be given more prominence and recognition within the European programmes. The mobility networks need to be better at recognizing each other in their websites, newsletters and information materials etc. The European Commission already support different competitions, but one example that could benefit the promotion of learning mobility is to arrange a competition using media students to produce a short film, using specifications on the possibilities of the networks.