Our ambitious project seeks to address digital transformation through development of digital readiness, resilience and capacity, promote active citizenship/young people’s sense of initiative and strengthen the employability of young people. Our main objective is to upskill project partners/associated partners/youth leaders empowering them with new knowledge and practical training resources to help young people put technology and digital stories to good use. Our goal is to empower young people (15-24 years) to become active, empowered digital citizens capable of advancing strong social change missions online.
The project addresses the needs of young people and the issues they face regarding digital skills attainment, access to quality non-formal learning opportunities, active citizenship and employability. YOUTH FOR CHANGE uses the term “youth leaders” to encompass youth workers, educators, organizations and institutions who care about the quality of their work with and for young people. The project partners are all engaged in informal and non-formal youth work and reflect the broad range and scope of youth sector supports. Technology was a saving grace for young people during the COVID19 lockdowns in Europe offering them an opportunity to escape, learn, socialise and connect.
While technology is a great enabler, the current over and quite often misuse of technology by young people has been proven to be detrimental to their emotional wellbeing, mental and physical health, and many other areas of life. Despite increasing efforts and many projects to warn young people of the potential damaging effect of technology and social media, we have yet to see the issue systemically improve. Despite their prolific use of technology and social media, the EU Digital Education Action Plan tells us that in 2019, a fifth of young persons in Europe reported not to have basic digital skills. The Plan highlights digital literacy as an essential for everyday life, but it also reports that more than 40% of young people consider that critical thinking, media and democracy are not ‘taught sufficiently’ in school. It is clear therefore, that more needs to be done in this space and that highlighting the negative effects is not enough.
YOUTH FOR CHANGE seeks to change the dynamic by engaging young people in the non-formal learning opportunities which build on their existing interest in social media platforms like Snapchat, Tik Tok. Across Europe, youth unemployment and disengagement are on the rise. In 2020 the share of young people not in employment, education or training (NEETs) across Europe returned to the 2017 level (13.7%). In a short space of time, the global pandemic resulted in the gains from 3 years were wiped out. The situation is worrying for the youth leaders working for and with young people particularly in Lithuania. Last year, the number of young people under the age of 29 registered with the Employment Service increased 2.7 times, and the number of young people aged 16–24 - as much as 3.8 times. In addition, as much as 56% of young jobseekers under the age of 29 did not have professional training. Relative and worse statistics can be seen in partner countries. In Italy, youth-unemployment rate is at 32.2%. As of July 2021, 2,854 million people under 25 years of age were unemployed across the EU, of which a total of 2,339 million come from inside the eurozone, according to Eurostat.
This issue is now of crucial importance to the European Commission. It has launched a series of strategies and initiatives such as the EU Youth Strategy which seeks to ENGAGE, CONNECT and EMPOWER young people. It has also designated next year as the European Year of Youth 2022. All of this comes at a time when social change has never been more urgent in Europe. Every day, we face new and increasing challenges concerned with the pandemic, poverty, financial crisis and security challenges to name a few. YOUTH FOR CHANGE recognises the key role that young people can play as active citizens and actors of positive change in constructing a better and more sustainable future for Europe.