Italian National Agency Research | Effects of the European Solidarity Corps on Youth Employability
BETTER PREPARED FOR THE WORLD OF WORK THANKS TO THE EUROPEAN SOLIDARITY CORPS PROGRAMME
Agenzia Nazionale Giovani (Italian National Agency) presents the research report “Effects of Active Citizenship on the Employability of Volunteers Participating in the European Solidarity Corps Programme“.
Effects of the European Solidarity Corps on Youth Employability
Open mindset, networking, active participation in social and democratic life, transversal skills: these are, according to the research carried out by the Agenzia Nazionale per i Giovani “Effects of Active Citizenship in the Employability of Volunteers Participating in the ESC Programme”, the main characteristics acquired by the Volunteers participating in the European Solidarity Corps, a project based on more than 25 years of European programmes in the fields of youth and solidarity.
The EU programme, managed in Italy by ANG, since 2018 allows thousands of girls and boys to live voluntary and solidarity experiences all over Europe within projects designed to help communities or populations. In fact, the programme’s activities support the objectives of the EU Youth Strategy 2019-2027, which encourages young people to active and responsible participation in social, economic, cultural, political and civic spheres through exchange opportunities in a European context.
The primary aim of the research was to identify the potential impact of the programme on the world of work for Italian volunteers who participated in European volunteering projects, investigating to what extent this experience has a positive impact on employability, but also on the improvement of their personal skills and abilities.
42.5% of the interviewees, out of a total sample of 244 subjects (64 men and 153 women) with an average age of 27.8 years, 60% coming from Northern Italy, followed by 20% from the South and Islands and only 13.5% from Central Italy, highlight how the experience abroad proves to be a strategic lever for the development of a more open-minded personal and professional outlook; 8.63% emphasise an increased awareness of the value of diversity and inclusion obtained by strengthening their networks of extra-national relations and learning new cultural models in the organisational sphere and in the management of relations; again, 12% highlight how participation in the programme favours the development of specific and transversal skills.
An important element to underline, in order to reinforce the message that emerges from these data, is also that at the time of the interview, the population under analysis was mostly in a condition of employability or training (55.3% employed and 30.3% student/trainee) and only 9% were seeking employment. In addition, 85% confirmed that they intended to undertake further mobility in the future, demonstrating an awareness of how investing in their training can be a driver for finding employment.
Among the main motivations behind the decision to join the European Solidarity Corps programme are in fact both the need for personal development in order to experience and deal with a context different from the domestic one, and the desire to expand one’s professional dimension, improving one’s skills and competences, and the desire to network in order to build new relationships.
“Youth volunteering through the European Solidarity Corps programme,” says Lucia Abbinante, Director General of ANG, “is an extraordinary opportunity that broadens the cognitive horizons of the young volunteers involved. The comparison with other cultures, personal growth, active participation in political, cultural, democratic and civic life in a European context contributes to forming citizens of the future who respect the values of inclusion, equality, social, economic and environmental sustainability. The photograph returned by the research overcomes and demolishes all the clichés about a generation that, when not ignored, is portrayed as disinterested and apathetic: nothing could be further from the truth. It is the duty of the institutions, on the contrary, to widen these opportunities, make them more accessible and overcome the gap that can still be bridged in this age group, before it is too late. Training even in non-formal contexts is a driving force for the future, and the research carried out by the Agenzia Nazionale Giovani shows precisely how much experiences of this kind help to enrich knowledge and skills with positive spin-offs in terms of employability. A new generation of European citizens is growing up and deserves more attention’.
In fact, the research shows how participation in the ESC programme increased participants’ awareness of social issues (72.65%) – such as democracy, immigration, sustainability, equality, exclusion, citizenship, equal opportunities – confirming how experience abroad facilitates the development of multifaceted knowledge.
Critical thinking, greater self-confidence in oneself and in one’s choices, the ability to mediate and adapt to different contexts and cultures, and language skills are the main competences learnt detected by those who, between 2018 and 2020, took part in the European Solidarity Corps projects: a crucial training background to face future challenges in the world of work, but also in life.