Volunteering for employment - real knowledge and skills
In the period 9 to 16 August 2015 in Sofia, Bulgaria was held a training course under "Volunteering for Knowledge" project, funded by the "Erasmus +" programme, activity K1 - mobility of youth workers, which hosts 41 youth workers from 10 countries in Europe. The project aims to acquaint the participants and the public with the importance of volunteering as a tool of acquiring new knowledge and skills.
High unemployment among young people in recent years, which is noted in almost all European countries can be the result of numerous financial and cultural characteristics in each country and the European Union as a whole. According to Eurostat statistics from June 2015, 4.724 million young persons (under 25) were unemployed as compared to June 2014, youth unemployment has increased by 386,000 people. In percentages, this statistic is nearly 21%, as the lowest unemployment is noted in Germany (7.1%), Malta (10%), Estonia (10.1%), Austria and Denmark (10.3%) and highest - Greece (53.2 %), Spain (49.2%), Italy (44.2%), Croatia (43.1%). In Bulgaria the youth unemployment is over 20% in the age group up to 25 years. Analysts of the labor market stated, that one of the main difficulties of adaptation of young people is the lack of real knowledge and skills with which to operate in their daily work. Employers require from the young people to start their duties with practical skills rather than theoretical ones. One of the options by which they could accumulate practical skills is the volunteering activities, but only if they are recognized at national and European level. This may give young people greater opportunity for employment. In different EU countries, there are a variety of tools for recognition of knowledge and skills that are acquired through volunteering, which to varying degrees are recognized by employers.
The training course involved representatives of Bulgaria, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Spain, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia and gave the possibility to be presented new ideas how to provide the young people with the necessary knowledge and skills for employment, through volunteering and how to promote volunteerism for acquiring knowledge. The event met youth workers with decision makers from government and non-governmental structures, as well as managers of international companies. In mutual communication with those experts, with practical visits to sports facilities and youth centers, through formal training and familiarization with the methodology of ETS - Education through sport (http://www.moveandlearn.org/) as a tool to empower youth, the participants had intensive week in Sofia.
The main objective of the project is to enable young people / youth workers to be empowered with an innovative way to acquire knowledge and skills through volunteering. The target group is focused on volunteering in sport as an innovative approach to involve more young people in the labor market by accumulating real skills and thus to provide them with more opportunities for employment. Transfer of best practices between Western and Eastern Europe, as well as ideas that participants shared during the project will make it possible to find alternative methods to combat youth unemployment by creating opportunities for self-employment and employment through volunteering.
During the event, participants had the opportunity to share knowledge and experiences about informal learning methodology "Education through Sport" and to meet with various specialists. Among the experts were Monika Panayotova - a member of the European Parliament 2013 - 2014 and general manager of "Inno Advisors" - consulting company in the sphere of European funding that share its experience in the field of organization of campaigns for volunteering at European and local level. Theodora Gerdjikova - IT specialist in digital marketing debated with the participants what employers in the companies expect young people to know and can do when starting work and good practices for corporate - social responsibility. Youth workers were able to get familiar with the "Education through Sport" methodology developed by specialists from all over Europe in 2013 which aims to help solving problems in society as a lack of communication, basic human rights and freedoms, limiting deviant behaviors such as aggression and violence, enhancing teamwork and a sense of social belonging.
Several practical visits were organized during the project such as visit of a basketball game, part of the FIBA European Championship U16, during which volunteering were presented by example of the volunteers on the event. The group also visited National Sports Academy "Vasil Levski", examined the facilities of the Academy and was welcomed by prof. Daniela Dasheva - vice rector for scientific, project and international activities. It was conducted also a visit to the Youth Information Consultative Centre (YICC) - "Opportunities without borders" which familiarize the youth workers with career guidance, voluntary activities and projects implemented jointly with and for young people. Volunteering at national and local level were presented by Martina Krushovska and Martina Kehayova - state experts in the Ministry of Youth and Sports and Lubomir Drekov - Mayor of "Lozenets" - Sofia municipality that organizes and promotes volunteer campaigns at local level. Effective communication and teamwork were the main topics of one of the days, taking into account the importance of these two qualities to increase employment of young people. On the last day of the event Konstantin Zankov - BSDA board member and online marketing specialists, presented tools for our performance in social media and how to use them in our daily activities. Shirin Amin - member of ETS community, presented the steps by which you can go from volunteering to employment and self-employment with that she has created sports club "Factory of Champions". Was provided time for sessions in which the participants in the event had chance to exchange ideas for future joint projects and to share experience in the "Erasmus +" program until the moment.
The team of " Bulgarian sports development association" and the international trainers - Sorin Buruiana (Denmark/Romania) and Ioana Sandulescu (Romania) are very satisfied with the event and are inspired by the participants' motivation to learn new things, share best practices and expand "Education through Sport" community with new partners and activities through which to increase the knowledge and skills of young people in Europe.