Knowledge and creativity – Building essential skills for thriving in uncertain times

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[JA Europe]

“NEETs in Entrepreneurship” is nowadays one of the most relevant projects in Romania, as economic and workplace environments are under tremendous pressure of digital transformation, and a good number of SMEs face closure or an urgent need for reorganization. 

Ștefania E. Popp is the CEO of Junior Achievement (JA) Romania.

The work here is not only for young people to find their mission and get into the job market, but also to give them the inspiration and motivation they need, building on the skills that can change their life.

There is no doubt that we will never go “back to business” as we know it. We are all facing the struggle to be ready for a reset in all areas of our lives. Moreover, as professionals in entrepreneurship education, we are immersed in the most relevant endeavour of the current moment: create and develop a model for a sustainable future.

Young people are now more than ever under pressure: they need support and advice to learn new skills, adapt to the new demands of the job market, or simply discover their vocation or find a way to make a life. The closure of several small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and the overall economic and financial context are making this effort even harder.

“NEETs in Entrepreneurship” is, therefore, one of the most valuable projects that Junior Achievement is currently involved in. Indeed, the fact that this category of young people represents an important target for our societies comes to no surprise for any of the countries involved in the implementation.

On the other hand, our efforts as an organization focus on the practical ways to promote the project among this very specific profile, identifying their potential and finding the means to bring them to a tangible endpoint – usually a job or a business that is ready to take off. Few of the participants in the project have gotten to this point in their lives, so every success inspires and motivates our team further.

When asked about their experience and what are the driving factors for their accomplishment, the majority of the 300 young people that were eligible to participate in the project mentioned perseverance, passion, and the purpose to contribute to a better world. “Passion and creativity… nobody can take that from you!” says Romică at the very start of his business in photo services, which adds to his experience as a blogger in digital marketing. Paul, another success story from the programme adds that “many people think that agriculture is hard work, which it is, but I get to be my own boss and enjoy every moment of the day, even when working 8-10 hours in my greenhouse”.

Both participants admit there is still a long way to go, but at least now they feel they are on the right track thanks to their work with the Junior Achievement Romania team. We try for these young people to understand that if they keep their expectations realistic and they are aware of the current situation, there are a lot of opportunities out there. “Important things are done in small steps” – Paul continues – “you stumble, you fall… but you get up. And sometimes you need to take a different path, but you should never give up!”.

As an organization, these are the words that we need to hear from the youth. And if this is the way we can influence the #FutureReady generation, then it is worth every effort.

The project “NEETs in Entrepreneurship” is funded by Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway through the EEA and Norway Grants’ Fund for Youth Employment. By the end of the project in 2021, 1,600 young people not in education, employment or training (NEETs) in Spain, Bulgaria, Italy and Romania will have received custom training that helps them to become active members of their society.

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