The 2015 YouthTime Global Forum; a Platform for Youth Empowerment and Social Innovation

YT Article 1 imageFour days, an abundance of fresh ideas, a cohort of socially motivated young people, a panel of experts and a bundle of generous awards. These are the ingredients forming the base of the YouthTime Global Forum that took place in Spain from the 28th-31st this October.

The YouthTime Global Forum was an event organised by the international YouthTime Movement and hosted at the Ilunion hotel in Barcelona. This four day conference addressed the pertinent global issues of youth unemployment and education, all the while promoting entrepreneurship and civil responsibility.

Kick starting with an introductory day involving a ‘city quest’ through the streets of Barcelona and a networking dinner. The participants were introduced to the city and to each other, the diversity of this event was immediately clear with individuals originating from countries as far spread as Italy and India. But this diversity did not only stem from nationality, the range of expertise and opinion played significant roles in establishing a mosaic of potential to be realised within this conference.

Day two of this event bought with it the first day of speakers and presentations addressing the issue of youth unemployment, particularly in the Europe region. Initially participants were treated to a plenary session featuring prestigious speakers such as: Felix Marquadt founder of the Al Kawakibi Foundation, Vladimir Yakunin Doctor of Political Sciences and Head of the Department of State Politics, Faculty of Political Science, Moscow State University and Ekkehard Ernst of the International Labour Organisation. Succeeding this came a series of presentations from young change-makers, hoping to win the hearts of the panel and the participants with their initiatives to improve the prosperity of youth.

These presentations were each seven minutes in length within which speakers were given the ambitious task of: introducing their initiative, explaining its relevance, summarising a S.W.O.T (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis and winning over a panel of scrutinous economic experts. Following these presentations the floor was opened for the panel and participants alike to participate in a Q&A session with the day’s presenters. The experts then evaluated each proposal, offering their advice and insights, an invaluable opportunity for those seeking to instigate their projects and actualise their ideas. On this day the campaigns presented included the introduction of an internship program in Armenia (where youth unemployment exceeds 60%), an online platform customised for those seeking freelance employment and establishing skills training centres in various regions. Participants left the venue inspired and the mood was light well into the night.

The third day of this conference was set to address the topic of education, focussing on the effectiveness of standard education regimes particularly when preparing youth to compete in a skill-based workforce. The morning’s schedule was near synonymous with that of the day before. An initial plenary session included experts such as: Mark Thomson a co-founder and trainer at ELASTIC Educational Consultants, Josep Bertran the Professor of International Trade and Strategies at University Pompeu Fabra Barcelona, and Silvia Crocitta an active volunteer currently working in the European Education and Culture sector, set the mood of productivity. Before ideas including transnational case-study competitions, establishing conciliation programs within schools and the instigation of health education program for women in devastated regions of Nepal were introduced in seven minute presentations to participants. Unlike the second day of the conference these presentations were followed by a tense voting session in which participants were given the task of deciding the project they had identified as possessing the most potential when striving for social innovation and reform.

In the evening all present at the conference were spoiled with a luxurious gala dinner and after-party at the Finca Mas Solers estate. Here awards were announced and participants were thrilled to learn that Bojana Naumoska from Macedonia received an internship opportunity; Kristina Arakelova and Anastasiia Troshkina were jointly awarded scholarships to study at the Anglo-American University in Prague; while the grand prize of a monetary grant went to Dr. Swekshya Neupane. This grant will be fundamental in establishing her campaign to educate women in basic health care, including administering injections and dressing wounds, to benefit children in disaster struck Nepal. The night’s events concluded with a dance party lead by a local Spanish DJ.

The final day of this event was dedicated to Goodbyes. After four intense, productive and though provoking days, attendees slowly trekked out of the hotel and began the journey back to their homes.  However, the mood was not one of sadness, rather of inspiration. With events like this now beginning to multiply in number, and spread through the world, it is clear that the age of youth driven movements and initiatives for social change is upon us.

This year’s YouthTime Global Forum successfully empowered individuals from a variety of demographics to realise their potential, establish new initiatives and seek social change. After laying the grounds for further discussion and action to be undertaken upon this subject matter, participants left Barcelona eager to visit YouthTime Movement’s next event and optimistic about the progress that would be made before that time.

written by Sofia Arthus- Schoppe

edited by Alisa Sophie Rasch

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