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New opportunities for youth employment and entrepreneurship in Eastern Partnership Countries facilitated by the EU

On the 17th of May, the new Programme fostering Employment and Entrepreneurship of young people in Eastern Partnership Countries has been launched. In the period 2022-2024 a number of actions and initiatives improving young people career management skills, and facilitating cross-sector partnerships between public, private and non-governmental sectors will be implemented. Special focus will be dedicated to strengthening the capacities of key institutions in labour policy and the market.

Today European and national policymakers, representatives of state institutions, employment agencies, youth organisations, and non-governmental initiatives have been introduced to the Programme goals and activities, and have been invited to involve and collaborate.

Mr. Jeroen Willems, Deputy Head of C2 – Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus & Eastern Partnership Unit, DG NEAR at his welcome speech noted that most of the EU initiatives of regional cooperation and not only has been affected by the crisis in Ukraine, caused by the Russian military aggression. EU4Youth is not an exception – the initial framework of the Programme has been extended to tackle urged challenges in Ukraine. “We cannot ignore regional challenges that are important for sustainable development of the region. I am grateful to the Programme team for its effective efforts in establishing cooperation with the Ukrainian Ministry of Youth and Sports. As a result 2 mil. EUR has been allocated to strengthen resilience and to build competencies to respond to youth employment challenges, related to the war against Ukraine.”

According to Mr J. Willems, challenges generated by the Belarussian regime after August 2020, including employment of young asylum-seekers from Belarus, must be also taken into consideration. “We have to support Belarussian civil society and youth organizations working building opportunities for young people”..

Director of Development Cooperation Department under the Ministry of the Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Lithuania (MFA), Ms. Rasa Kairienė in her welcoming speech admitted that: “The continuing military aggression against Ukraine has considerably re-shaped the overall social and political environment in the Eastern partnership region. At the same time, the current context has revealed the significance of cooperation among countries, as well as building networks and partnership. Together it has also stressed the role of youth and youth organisations as important actors in fostering the dialogue between communities.”

Director of the Central Project Management Agency (CPMA), Ms. Lidija Kašubienė marked that certain adjustments were being made on the Programme level to better meet the challenges of the war against Ukraine: “During the inception phase we have been working on detailing the activities of the programme to best achieve the results and meet partner’s expectations.  As well   searching for initiatives and possibilities to strengthen resilience and build capacities to respond to impacts generated by the war against Ukraine. All the components of the programme – component 1 grants, component 2 technical assistance and component 3 scholarships – went or are under the process of change due to the new challenges to be addressed.”

Mr Thomas Hainlen, Programme’s component 2 Team Leader addressed all stakeholders encouraging them actively participate in discussions about expectations, and possibilities and also to contribute actively to the actions in youth employment. “This Programme brings a lot of opportunities to all participating countries. Therefore, only joint efforts of action implementors and stakeholders can bring tangible results”, noted Mr Th. Hainlen.

Team Leader emphasised the importance of policy dialogue on youth employment among all players: public employment services, ministries, youth councils, civil society organisations, employer organisations, and education sector institutions.

The Programme EU4Youth: Youth Employment and Entrepreneurship focuses on these specific objectives:

  • Foster young people’s digital skills, skills needed for the green transition, alongside entrepreneurial and career management skills;
  • Develop cross-sector partnerships between public, private and non-governmental institutions in the area of employability and career development for youth, in particular, the disadvantaged;
  • Build structural capacities of key institutions for mapping, outreach, preparation and offers in view of employment, continued education, apprenticeships or traineeship (piloting of Eastern Partnership (hereinafter – EaP) Youth Guarantee–type schemes);
  • Strengthen understanding of European politics and governance among EaP youth.

All objectives will be pursued by the specific actions and instruments: grants (component 1), technical assistance for building institutional set-up and structures for youth employment policy implementation (component 2), and scholarships for young people (component 3).

According to the Team Leader, activities of the Programme will start immediately with the establishment of WGs, involving stakeholders, which is of crucial importance in getting feedback from committees and understanding of needs and context of a particular country as well as performing fact-finding on policy, legal regulation, strategies, achievements and planned actions in the area.

The Programme EU4Youth: Youth Employment and Entrepreneurship is co-financed jointly by the European Union and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania and implemented by the Central Project Management Agency (CPMA) in Eastern Partnership countries (Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Moldova, and Ukraine) until the end of 2024.

Kick-offs of the Programme in EaP countries will follow soon: the first kick-off meeting will take place in Georgia on the 18th of May, then Armenia on the 26th of May, Moldova – on the 1st of June 2022 and Azerbaijan on the 23rd of June will follow.

EU4Youth has helped over 28 000 young participants gain new skills and nearly 3 000 young people received mentorship since 2018.

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