“Education in Europe, fostering skills development inside and outside the school system”

Mrs Daniela Runchi is the President of JADE

This article was exclusively written for the Sting by Daniela Runchi, President of the European Confederation of Junior Entreprises

Education is today in Europe a hot topic, with many initiatives taking place to promote the development of the citizens of tomorrow, both inside and outside the traditional school system.

Indeed, there seem to be a gap between what the school is providing students with, and what the job market requires: if on one hand schools talk about competences, notions, and learning outcomes, the labour market underlines the importance of skills and practical experience. To fill the gap, the European Institutions have been put an increasing focus on apprenticeships and traineeships, with programs such as the European Alliance for Apprenticeships from DG Employment, as tools to help young people to get to know the job market and acquire practical experience. However, in many countries of the Union the school system remains tied to its tradition, and hardly incorporates innovative tools or a tight connection with the business world.

In such a setting, an important role is played by the informal education system, in the form of peer to peer learning programs, associations and organizations of various types, with a special place occupied by youth organizations.

This kind of institution, in fact, constitutes a particular blending between education and skills development, with one foot into the traditional school system and the other in the corporate world: organizations like JADE — the European Confederation of Junior Enterprises, ELSA — the European Law Students Association, AEGEE — the European Students’ Forum, and many others, bring together any year thousands of students, helping them developing their skills and getting ready for the job market. With all the specificities related to the fields of activities, the structure of these organizations is usually fairly similar, with the local chapters based in a number of cities across Europe, and being managed entirely by students, who need to provide for their local organization, administer its structure and activities, recruit new members. In doing so, they can experience and develop at the same time team working skills, project planning, management, and so on. In some specific cases, such as in the Junior Enterprises (280+ across Europe), the students can also acquire entrepreneurial skills, developing projects and interacting with clients and suppliers, training their selling capabilities and CRM skills.

It therefore seems necessary to start to think about the recognition of the skills acquired through informal learning at European level, both to certify the factual personal development of the youth, and to guarantee the potential employers about the quality of the the candidates.

Such a process, aimed at the definition and recognition of the skills acquired via the participation in a European-wide youth organization, was initiated by JADE during its Generations Club event in November with the collaboration of other Youth NGOs such as AEGEE, ELSA, EPSA and AIESEC. The topic has also being object of attention from the European Commission, and will see further developments in the next months. As representatives of youth in Europe, we therefore call for a further involvement of both the institutions and the private sector, for the definition of a universally recognized framework for skills development and certification in Europe.

About the author

Mrs Daniela Runchi is the President of JADE

Ms. Daniela Runchi is JADE President– European Confederation of Junior Enterprises — for 2016, and Head of Department in Strategy Management, Private Cooperation, International Relations and Internal Management, taking care of the relationship with corporate partners and with the affiliated Confederations of JEs around the world. Daniela Runchi is graduating at Bocconi University (Milan, Italy) from a Master of Science in Economic and Social Sciences. In the Junior Enterprises since 2012, she has been working in her JE as Network Manager, Secretary General and eventually as President in 2013. At national level, she was Secretary General and President in 2014–2015. In the corporate field, she has been a Project Manager for a Startup dealing with accessible tourism and for a design company in Italy; afterwards, she moved in China, where she worked for a multinational in the fashion field, and for an international corporation in the cosmetics industry.

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Originally published at europeansting.com on February 19, 2016.

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