Over the past months, we supported the European Commission Directorate General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations (DG NEAR) in the methodological development of a policy dialogue workshop on youth education and employment policies, which took place in Rabat on 18th, 19th and 20th September.
DG NEAR Technical Assistance Information Exchange Instrument (TAIEX) regularly organises workshops in which EU Member State experts are invited to present specific areas of EU legislation to a group of neighbourhood countries officials. Inspired by our Lab Connections event last year, DG NEAR (who had actively contributed by presenting a challenge) had proposed to adopt a different and more engaging approach, asking the EU Policy Lab’s support in the design of a TAIEX workshop. It was suggested to bring in the perspective of the young people from Maghreb and foster an informal conversation between the government and business representative of Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria.
Bringing young people perspective in the workshop
Bringing in young people into the discussion revealed to be difficult due to the limitation in the number of participants we could invite. In addition, as it was the first gathering of this type, we decided to operate on a “safer” environment. Therefore, we adopted a twofold approach: we organised two study visits on the afternoon before the workshop where our participants had the occasion to meet with young Moroccans. In addition we contacted 2 local young professionals, Nada Diouri and Prof. Mohammed Amine Siana to support us in getting the perspective of young people on the employment situation in their countries into the workshop through a series of interviews. The results were used to develop persona cards and also transformed into beautiful visuals we showcased during the workshop. You can see some of the images below, made by Amine’s student Amina Chayek, Kenza Guessous and Sara Elbadaoui who we deeply thank for their support! Both Nada and Amine attended the workshop, having the chance to represent the people they had contact with but also to contribute to the discussion.
On the 18th September afternoon, we visited the Association Jeunes pour Jeunes (Youth for Youth Association) a local NGO working mainly of citizenship and employment related issues. The Executive Director, with the help of some of the young members illustrated their main activities such as the Tamkin Academy, a youth camp where young Moroccans are introduced to the social enterprise model. Afterwards the Moroccan Ministry of Youth and Sport kindly agreed to open one of their Maisons des Jeunes (House of Youth) for us. Maisons des Jeunes are public institutions offering young people of all ages the opportunity to enjoy different socio-cultural activities such as theatre, music, visual arts, sports, dance and cinema.
Workshop on activation and adaptation policies for young people who are not in employment, education or training (NEETs)
The workshop took place on the following 2 days. The agenda was very ambitious but we did manage to keep our participants (mostly representative of ministries of education and employment of Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco) engaged!
We worked with two main settings: first at separate country based tables and afterwards with the participants joining various issues specific tables together with colleagues from different countries. After each session, a quick reporting to plenary was foreseen. All presentations in the agenda were used as a way to either introduce the work at the table (such as the European Training Foundation-ETF one on the main challenges in the region) or to re-align the discussion (e.g. the ones of France and Portugal representatives on the Youth Guarantee instrument). The first day we focused on the problem (re)definition and the second day we asked the participants to discuss possible solutions trying to be as creative and imaginative as possible.
The exchange was extremely rich and lively, with majority of the participants staying for the entire duration of the workshop and continuing to work through lunches and coffee breaks. We will hopefully be able to share the outcomes soon. In order to help driving the discussion but also to capture as much as possible the inputs of the participants, we used some templates such as the one below. The participants and the facilitators could write directly on them and identify the most important issues with stickers and coloured markers.
In order to keep the focus on the NEETs, we printed the works of Sara, Kenza and Amina in post cards format too and distribute it to the participants. Also we introduced everyone to the persona cards –this tool was new for most of them: each participant was assigned a young persona from their country (an invented character based on a real person). During the course of the workshop we asked them to put themselves in the shoes of that young person and try to see the issues or the possible solutions from the policy beneficiaries’ point of view. The use of persona cards revealed itself to be extremely successful: everyone liked the approach and found it very useful, despite the difficulties of trying it for the first time.
We believe the process designed was instrumental for the excellent working environment that was generated. What could have been a limited formal exchange between different governments’ representative became an extremely friendly discussion ending with the expression of interest of most of the participants in bringing the discussion forward and keep working with the participatory methods we proposed.
We wish to thank everyone for the efforts over the 3 days and also the European Commission colleagues for involving us in this process!