The Symposium gathered 110 representatives of governments, non-governmental and international organisations, universities and research institutes, etc., with the aim to map and discuss the challenges that young people around Europe are facing and to work together to identify possible policy responses to these challenges. It integrated plenary sessions, thematic groups and informal networking in order to facilitate the exchange of practices and ideas. The six thematic groups worked on identifying the challenges and the policy responses that address them by looking from the perspective of the following topics: “belonging”, “agency and empowerment”, “participation and expression”, “volunteering”, “learning and training”, and “working and creating”.
The key messages compiled by the participants following the brainstorming in the thematic groups will be published soon on the official website of the Council of Europe. In the meantime, some of the conclusions from the working groups can be read below:
- Youth policy exists in a political context, therefore inequality has to be acknowledged and addressed from the policy perspective;
- The framework for volunteering needs revision, updating, taking into consideration the current realities and the diverse national frameworks;
- Solidarity plays a crucial role in propagating the sense of belonging and acceptance of diverse identities;
- Structured dialogue should be promoted as a practice to happen on national and local levels, in order to reach a real dialogue between decision-makers and young people;
- Recognition of youth work as an approach in education and of non-formal education as a methodology would contribute to building a more inclusive and need-oriented youth policy;
- More attention should be paid to the cross-sectoral cooperation and to the cross-generational approach, in order to combine experienced and tested methodologies with new and innovative ideas.
Jacob Kornbeck, Policy Officer at the Directorate-General Education and Culture of the European Commission, concluded the symposium saying that young people should be at the core of all the processes of policy-making, because „If you are not at the table, you are on the menu”.
All the relevant documents related to the symposium can be found here.