Cluster

von Empowering Young People

CLUSTER D:  Entrepreneurship and Social Responsibility

Amela Sehic and Mersiha Idrizovic

This portfolio is the final product of the Cluster D joint work. Our theme was Entrepreneurship and Social Responsibility within the project Empowering Young People – Connecting Europe “Re-Shaping Our Life in Our Region” by KulturKontakt Austria. It represents the summary of our work, the lessons learned and the goals achieved.

The structure of this portfolio consists of three parts. The first part is an introduction, which will try to define the terms “entrepreneurship and social responsibility”, how we started and the cluster event. The second part gives a short project overview divided into project aims and objectives and project activities. The third part is made up of various artefacts that were created during our project.

We would like to thank KulturKontakt Austria and the Austrian Federal Ministry for Education, the Arts and Culture for giving us the opportunity to be a part of this wonderful experience, the experts who guided us all the way and gave us useful advice whenever we found ourselves disoriented or lost, and our students, partners and volunteers, without whom all of this would have been impossible.

 COUNTRIES INVOLVED: 

  • Bosnia and Herzegovina  
  • Montenegro                                          
  • Romania
  • Moldova

 SCHOOLS INVOLVED:

  • Secondary School of Economics Tuzla, B&H
  • College of Finance and Banking, Moldova
  • Superior School of Commerce “N. Kretzulescu”, Romania
  • Secondary Mixed School “Beco Basic”, Montenegro

 

NUMBER OF STUDENTS INVOLVED:  100

 NUMBER OF TEACHERS INVOLVED: 16

 PROJECT DURATION: May 2012–July 2013

  • Social responsibility and entrepreneurship means the ability to perceive/foresee opportunities, to create solutions, engage others and realise plans for the benefit of the individual and society. Entrepreneurship could be seen as a silver bullet for youth unemployment by means of self-creating opportunities for employment.
  • For youth, social responsibility involves developing a sense of commitment to the community. From this commitment, young people are then able to engage in activities such as organising campaigns around certain societal issues, caring for the homeless, sick or elderly. Young people who participate in such activities have been found to demonstrate better social skills in interacting with others in their community. They also have higher levels of civil awareness and problem-solving skills.
  • Engaging in socially responsible activities also increases career opportunities and promotes higher academic achievement.

 

  • What benefits did the project offer?
    • The students became aware of the difficult employment situation in the country and started thinking about ways of solving the big problems of unemployment.

 

  • The students realised that they could change things by getting more involved.
    Since any project requires teamwork, the students learned how to act as a team and take responsibility for making decisions important for the realisation of the project.

 

  • Through short-term training programmes, they learned how to write job application materials such as résumés and cover letters.

 

  • They had an opportunity to learn and practice how to write a good business plan.
    .

•   Key factors of the project:

  • Language skills as a competence in working life
  • Team work Cooperation

  

Why was the project important?

The project was important because it gave students the opportunity to become aware of unemployment issues in their own country and in other countries in the Danube region.

It gave them the chance to collaborate with stakeholders and explore a variety of steps that should be taken regarding employment after school completion, to become active, to meet students from other countries and to work with them on solving employment problems.

Unemployment is a key and common problem for all four countries of Cluster D. The statistics show that unemployment among young people is increasing across Europe; in several countries it has even reached more than 40%. In this respect, youth unemployment is also higher than adult unemployment for several reasons. Employers often rely on stereotypes about youth that cause them to prefer older workers. Youth also have less experience searching for work, making it a more difficult process in which they are likely to find less success than older employees.

All of the aforementioned led us to the joint conclusion that young people deserve the chance to work and get on in life. Therefore we decided that our main issue within the project would be youth unemployment.

  • The cluster event was held from 2 to 4 October 2012 in Tuzla, Bosnia and Herzegovina.
  • Eight teachers and sixteen students participated in the event;
  • Prior to the cluster event, the students did some research (CIA Fact book) on the rates of unemployment in their countries and came up with the following results:

                --) Unemployment in Moldova, youth ages 15-24; total: 15.4%;  male: 15.8% female: 14.9%

                --) Unemployment in Romania, youth ages 15-24; total: 20,8%;  male: 21,2% female: 20,2%

                --) Unemployment in Bosnia and Herzegovina, youth ages 15-24; total: 47,3%;  male: 44,7% female: 51,9%

                --) Unemployment in Montenegro, youth ages 15-24; total: 48,47%; male: 56% female: 44

  • The students discussed unemployment issues in the countries involved in the project and agreed that there are many reasons behind the problem of youth unemployment, for example: lack of particular skills, wrong educational system, mismatches between education and needs in the labour market, lack of self-confidence, lack of self-esteem and, of course, structural lack of workplaces.
  • Students concluded that there are qualified people willing to work but they CAN’T find a job (illustrated by the chart below).
  • They brainstormed ideas for activities to be done and developed the project plan, decided on the project title (“Together for a Job”) and the logo.

  • To change the mindset of youth in terms of employment and taking a responsible role in society and to raise awareness about unemployment with respect to all included and relevant subjects for this problem, with the aim of reducing the number of unemployed young people and improving their living standards; one of the possible ways out would be self-employment.
  • To do research on unemployment issues and the exact number of unemployed after completion of secondary school.
  • To provide training through partnerships with organisations, foundations and public institutions.
  • To raise awareness about employment opportunities by being informed about job opportunities on e-job websites, trained to represent their skills and themselves by writing CVs, job applications, writing project proposals and business plans and introduced to the overall procedures in the hiring process.
  • To empower young people to effectively transform their skills and preferences into employment.
  • To empower youth to set up enterprises;

I. Raising awareness in young people regarding the importance of taking responsibility for their own existence by organising debates  and round tables, and to discuss unemployment.

  • Debate on youth unemployment

The purpose of the debate was to raise awareness in young people about unemployment as a main issue after completion of secondary school. Prior to the debate, students did some research on youth unemployment and job possibilities within the countries.

 

The debate consisted of the following stages:

Students introduced the problem of unemployment: Unemployment is a curse to people who do not have work. Unemployment turns a person into a child, dependent on handouts from family, friends, religious organisations, NGOs and organs of the state. Youth unemployment is at crisis levels in our country. Our young people are being turned away day after day in their attempts to find work, on the grounds of lack of experience and qualifications. 

The students proposed the main causes of unemployment such as inadequate work of the authorities, poor privatisation, economic crises that bring crises of morals, bribery and corruption; excessive housing loans, illegal products (black market).

The students proposed alternative measures that should be taken by the government: There are a variety of measures that should be taken by governments. These measures are primarily related to the creation of new job positions through the development of macroeconomic policies. It is necessary to provide more high-quality training and to train young people, as well as to provide them with information on the labour market. High-quality training will enable young people to raise productivity and facilitate entry into the labour market.

The students suggested some public policies: We can distinguish between active and passive employment policies that can combat unemployment. Active policies consider the following measures: a variety of retraining and vocational training of workers. The expected outcome of these measures is increased production, increased purchasing power of citizens as well as increased demand for goods and services. On the other hand, passive policies are based on the provision of social and material assistance to the unemployed. These policies, in different ways, reduce the labour market. Passive measures are short-term solutions and require financial support from the state. These measures are not a permanent solution, so they are regarded as less acceptable.

The students proposed an action plan: We believe that this problem is not unsolvable and that there are certain measures that can be taken to solve this problem, or at least partially alleviate it. In our opinion, the most important would be to coordinate the educational system with labour market needs, eradicate bribery and corruption, and strengthen the economy. A strong economy allows us to increase funding for crucial public services like healthcare, education, social housing and public safety.

Bosnia and Herzegovina students presenting their ideas for the debate.

 

The students first explained the problem of unemployment; they presented the governmental alternative measure (explained above).

 


 
The students made proposals on solutions to the problem; the students made an action plan.

 

 

  • Round table

The students organised round tables as a final activity of the project. Nowadays, students are struggling to find the answers to the following questions: “What can young people do to increase their employability? How are they going to find a job? How are they going to effectively present themselves in the labour market and succeed? With rising numbers of unemployed young people in the developing world, is entrepreneurship the solution to job creation?“

The main purpose of this activity was to try to provide youth and new graduates with answers to these questions and encourage them to start their own businesses, as well as to inform them about the procedure.

Representatives of the Faculty of Economy, Chamber of Commerce and Employment Agencies were invited to take part in the discussion on the problem of unemployment. One of the key solutions to the problem was that starting a small business can make a big difference. 

 


Round table: Students presenting problems of unemployment upon finishing secondary school.

 

Participants discussing and giving solutions to the unemployment problem.

 

II. Making symbols of the project such as T-shirts with logos, badges, bracelets in order to introduce the project activities and the problem of youth unemployment among local community, governmental institutions and young people.

 

III. Organising training measures and workshops to facilitate employment and support young people in finding the job. As part of this activity, the following short-term workshops were prepared and organised: 

  • Writing a CV (CV mistakes to avoid; 10 steps to a successful CV)
  • Writing a cover letter (10 cover letter mistakes to avoid) and letter of  intent;
  • Writing project proposals
  • Making a business plan
  • How to prepare yourself for a job interview
  • Creating accounts for students on "eJobs” sites
  • Creating a blog, promo material and invitations (to companies, students)

 

 

Creating accounts for students on "eJobs” sites.

 

 

B&H students: Workshop on “Making a Business Plan”.

 


Romanian students: Workshop on “How to Prepare for a Job Interview”

 

IV. Preparing a “flash mob” as a part of the campaign to raise awareness of the unemployment issue at the school and community levels. The general idea was to create a light-hearted gathering of young people to intrigue and mystify bystanders by calling attention to a huge number of young people who would be forced to walk around the streets after completion of school due to lack of job opportunities.

 

 


Moldova students performing a flash mob in order to raise awareness about unemployment and let other people know about the project.

 

V. Cooperation with the schools in the region with the main goal of exchanging experiences, knowledge and information about unemployment in our country and the Danube region and expanding our project to other schools in the region using our peers, who can continue and develop our ideas in the future. With this purpose, several online workshops, chatrooms between the target schools, were organised.

 

Romanian youth graduate convention with the organisation.

 

 


Bosnia and Herzegovina established an inter-entity cooperation with the High School of Economics, Bijeljina, the Republic of Srpska, B&H.

The main project results of the aforementioned activities are:

 

  • Flash mob to raise awareness

 

On 29 April 2013, in the park of Chișinău, students of the College of Finance and Banking organised the flash mob “I want a job in my country” in the framework of the international project  “Empowering Young People – Connecting Europe”.

A flash mob is a short meeting in a public place, with participants doing unusual actions in a short period of time (usually some minutes); after that the group dissipates. The flash mob was presented for bystanders randomly with the aim of stirring up the feeling of curiosity.

Students who were involved in the project tried, through this activity, to raise awareness in society concerning the unemployment problem among young people. They danced in front of the passers-by, distributed information flyers with statistics relating to unemployment among youth, and at the end of the activity lampions were launched.

 

  • Blogs, accounts on E-job sites, multimedia materials such as collection of news articles, websites, publications and other internet resources – within the activity of searching and applying for jobs at the e-job website 
  • Photos – as results of each activity done within the project 
  • Business plans, writing CVs, cover letters, organising job interviews. Organising training sessions and workshops to facilitate employment and support young people in finding a job. As part of this activity, the short-term workshops that followed were prepared and organised. 
  • Promotional materials such as leaflets, T-shirts with the logo, stickers and badges

 

  • Students’ view

 The project itself was a great opportunity for us. We had a chance to get to know our peers from four countries from the Danube Region, to find out about possibilities, opportunities and problems they are facing in their countries after completion of secondary school. 

We, as students, were also given the opportunity to be educated about important issues related to the hiring process.

We were also able to make contacts and collaborate with employment agencies and NGOs and to hear the voices of experts through organising and participating in round tables.

We wish to be a part of such projects again in the future.

 

  • Teachers’ view

The project was a great experience for us as teachers and for our development. It was our chance to contribute to solving the biggest problem in our countries: unemployment. Due to our tight schedules and syllabuses, we usually do not have time to devote ourselves to other issues such as higher education, employment or other possibilities our students have upon completion of secondary school. We also had a chance to socialise with our students and become familiar with their other skills, besides their being just students in the class. Now we see them as individuals and young people who are willing to learn new things and take responsible actions and roles within society. 

 

  • Highlights:
  • organising a debate (students presented main problems of unemployment, causes and possible solutions);
  • organising a workshop (how to make a business plan); partnering with other schools (exchange of experiences and knowledge);
  • creating young graduate associations;
  • job shadow day (junior achievement – good practice);
  • partnership with 4career associations;
  • students’ expressing the desire to work and stay in the country in spite of a difficult situation. 

 

  • Challenges:
  • advantages and disadvantages of launching your own business; organising all project activities;
  • teamwork between the schools (not enough meetings; we met only once in Tuzla for the cluster event); changing the mindset in terms of the importance of self-employment;
  • overcoming communication gaps;
  • differences of opinion and conflicts regarding the concept of the project activities and their implementation.We overcame these by deciding to organise different activities (e.g. some schools organised the debate and others performed the flash mob).

 

Unexpected discoveries: shocking data on unemployment in the countries; authorities seemed not very interested in the unemployment issue; easy use of technology when searching for a job; the students’ lack of confidence

 

  • Possible changes

If we had a chance to do the project again from the beginning, we would firstly put more emphasis on the initial phase of the planning, to make clearer what is to be done and what is not to be done. We would more clearly define where we are and where we want to be. And we would also be aware of the obstacles existing that prevent easy movement. We would like to point out the significance of the first cluster meeting with an expert and that the persons who implement the plan participate in preparing them.

Regarding the communication between the cluster schools, we think that online communication could be improved. During our meetings we should have thought more about communication. We should have made clearer who passes the information on, to whom, why, when, which information and how. It is important to send short messages regularly and to demand and receive feedback.

Regarding the artefacts of the project, we would appoint a person in each participating school of Cluster D to document each activity (electronic and hard copy) and upon completion submit them to the cluster coordinator.

It is important to write down the good things we learned on the project, so we and other people can learn from our experience.

Having in mind that social responsibility of youth involves developing a sense of commitment to the community, we could give our students more opportunities to engage in activities such as organising campaigns around certain societal issues, caring for the homeless, sick or elderly. Participating in such activities would help them to develop better social skills with respect to how they interact with others in their community. They would also have higher levels of civil awareness and higher problem-solving skills. 

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