Young qualified workers: empowerment and participation strategies in the Baltic States and EU

From 27 to 29 May 2021 took place in Jūrmala, Latvia, a seminar about “Young qualified workers: empowerment and participation strategies in the Baltic States and EU”, organized by LKrA (Latvijas Kristīga Akadēmija), with the support of EZA and of the European Union.

104 representatives of workers’ organisations from Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia, Russia (online) and Poland participated in the seminar which was organized in a hybrid way.

The most important aspect of the project were the prepared stimulative education reports valuable for a deeper understanding of comprehensive development of young people’s involvement in the labour market, qualification and analysis from the interdisciplinary perspective. The problems were viewed in terms of practice of “White Paper on the Future of Europe, as well as reflections and scenarios for the Young Qualified Workers in the EU 2017 by 2025”.

The second aspect of real importance was introduction of the new possibilities and ways of empowerment of young works at EU level.

The seminar adopted initiatives for awareness of “Resolution of the European Youth Strategy 2019-2027”. And it took a look through compliance of tasks and goals of the quality of the professional education to the empowerment of the already employed young people. The comparative analysis of the situation in different EU countries was done.

The seminar was important just now because the Covid-19 pandemic has had a major impact on young people’s education, training systems and labour in Europe. Seminar invested for adopting quickly to new and challenging realities, ways of learning, teaching and communicating in order to compensate for learning losses linked to the lockdown. The project was important for actions in four main policy areas that can enhance young people competencies efficiently and effectively: 1) ensuring quality and equal opportunities in education and jobs, 2) fostering competencies for the future, 3) discussing ways of financing, education and training also through synergies with EU funds.

The main topics focused on labour market changes due to Digital Era and pandemics; attention was paid to start-up communities in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania as a possibility for young people to start businesses and socialization; the role of workplace for active inclusion as well labour market access and participation as challenge of regional economic development strategy.

The participants on place made a field trip to the Professional College of Forestry in Ogre as a result of the dialogue between professional entrepreneurs and educators.

Seminar results

During discussions, we established three types of interventions or analysis: 1) on identification of main factors of change affecting young people future of work: development of globalization, technological changes, climate changes, demographic changes. Differences were in the assessment of the degree of impact of each factor strongly influenced by the comparative socio-economic characteristics of youth in the EU countries; 2) relates to actions to be developed to ensure that changes in work are produced with combining economic efficiency with equity and social cohesion. The balancing role of Social dialogue was stressed. It is essential to incorporate it into political decision-making processes which were weakened by pandemic in many cases. Numerous references have been made to the need to improve knowledge of youth empowerment as well as diversity of national practices and policies in youth labour area. All this is linked to the idea of adopting anticipatory approaches, among which, for example, those which refer to adjustment of qualifications; 3) Beyond the more concrete issues related to young qualified workers there were more generic ideas that need to be considered for an in-depth analysis: national frameworks and strategies for young qualified workers, interconnections between different major factors of work change (climate change, sustainable development of workforce, demography etc.). We need to overcome the analysis of the youth labour which considers the future as a mechanical result, almost fatally positive, of a series of external and unmanageable factors. It has been said that the future of youth work has to be discussed in order to shape the world of work of the 21st century because the future is not what will happen, but what we will do it. At the end of the seminar all participants agreed that we only have started the discussions of how to reach greater involvement of young people and how to support the exchange of knowledge regarding the labour market involvement and empowerment, experience of good practices in relation to actions aimed at shaping the future of work of young people’s work and their qualification in the EU.