Our LILAC Story
Out of the 17 challenges of the 2030 Agenda, our team chose to tackle number 8: “decent work and economic growth”
Decent work means work where labor rights and human rights are respected. This also requires a working environment where wages are fair and proportionate to the type of work done and where there is no gender discrimination.
We chose this goal because we think that one of the biggest challenges we young students face after university is to choose a career path. So we must have the right tools to find a decent job.
In fact, we are also 6 university students at the end of our university studies. We come from 4 different countries: Poland, France, Italy and Lithuania, but we all found that there is a cross-cutting problem that involves both the university world and the world of work.
From this need, the idea of founding an NGO to help young students to find a decent job, and to recognise when there is a good working environment.
Firstly, the main problem is the lack of proper training and skills by universities in preparing their students to enter the world of work, and secondly, the lack of respect for workers’ rights in the workplace.
Therefore, we decided to develop an NGO that could work in two directions: helping young students and offering the tools to recognise when a decent job is present.
As a first step we decided on the name of our team and our NGO. After a collective brain-storming we chose the name “Lilac”.
This name is that of a flower and we chose it because of its meaning. We found the parallelism with this flower very appropriate. Like as the flower is reborn in spring, we students have to look for a job when we finish our studies and this represents a new beginning.
For this reason, our team created struments to help young graduates achieve this goal.
Our project focused first of all on understanding the extent of the problem: we found out that among the 27 million young people in Europe under 25, about 5.5 cannot find a job, which is 3 times the rate compared to older people.
The next step was to find out who was our specific target group and what were its main concerns: through a series of interviews with young people graduates at high schools or at university we found out that, according to them, the main obstacle is the low demand in the labor market. This has decreased even more with Covid, and it is aggravated by the fact that usually young people don’t have enough experience and knowledge of this environment.
From here, we started to design Marta, who represents the prototype of our customer: a girl under 25, who has just graduated with top marks and who is looking for a job that reflects her aspirations and inclinations, in an environment that is respectful and stimulating, that encourages collaboration and not hostile competition between colleagues. But Marta, like many other young people entering the job market for the first time, is frightened and discouraged and accepts jobs for which she is over-qualified or which do not satisfy her because she fears that she will not be able to find something better.
We, at Lilac, have therefore decided to provide Marta with the right ‘’armour’’ to face this hostile and unknown world: a shield, symbolising the confidence she needs to believe in herself; a helmet representing a clear and complete CV; a sword made of her experiences and knowledge.
Then, aware of the fact that we cannot act alone, we also thought about our possible allies in this project, deciding to collaborate with: trade unions; innovative companies with a high work ethic; IGOs such as UN; universities, schools and Mass media. The main goal is to raise awareness among young people and provide them with all the skills they need to enter the labour market with awareness and determination.
These are the reasons behind the idea of our website and our social networks where Marta, and all young people like her, can find concrete advice and tips, read and share their work experiences. Our aim is to involve users in our project to make them feel part of our work and to encourage them not only to use the website but also to share their fears, their knowledge and their experiences in it, in order to help themselves and other people like them.
Lilac team consists of 6 strong and brave women who know what they want in life. Decent work and independence are important values for all of us. That is what brought us all together — we met at the classroom at our university during our Erasmus studies in Greece, Athens. Not soon after, we met up all together at a nice cafe, where we came up with the idea of Lilac, our project. We realized that each of us is different and has her own skills, so we divided our tasks according to our interests. Greta knows the best about web design, so she took care of the website. Tal and Filena are masters of speech, so they recorded the TEDTalks. Martyna works as a social media ninja, so she and Gabrielle took care of social media. Monica has a gift for article writing and thorough research, therefore she collected valuable information. In addition, each of us wrote some more articles for our website.
On our social media, we wanted to show how important a decent job is. Our posts were aimed mainly at young people who are just starting their careers. That is why we have thoroughly explained what a decent job should look like, what things we should pay attention to when choosing it and what signals (red flags) should worry us. We informed them about our articles that can help them find a job. We also recorded reels and conducted quizzes to engage our users and establish closer relationships with them. Some of our activities are presented below.
Furthermore, our project needed a clear and easily accessible platform, so our website was born. The main idea was to create a user-friendly, customizable platform that is well designed and functional, easy to use, optimized for all devices, including mobile. The content was supposed to be fresh, quality content and we tried to make everything readily accessible. Our website was built on the Tilda platform, as recommended by the teacher; it has 5 pages: Home, About us, News, Blog and Useful sites. The Home page introduces us and what we are as an NGO project. The About us page has descriptions of each member of the Lilac team, the News is where the our TEDtalk video is posted, as well most recent activity, the Blog page is filled with our articles and the last but not least page is Useful sites where we share links to our social media accounts. The website has a simple, elegant design, and it’s main colours are those of the name “Lilac” — purple, lavender, violet, grape and so on.
In the future we plan to grow and scale up our organization through events, collaboration, partnership and the development of our existing resources. In terms of our work, we want to create events that consist of meeting the people we help through our website, in real life. The impact of the health crisis has caused even more concern for our younger generation, as young people are finding it even more difficult to find work and develop in our society. We have to help them and that is why we would also like to partner with NGOs and companies such as the International Labor Organization or big companies that employ a lot of young people such as INDITEX and McDonalds.
We will organize workshops in partnership with the above-mentioned companies and organizations and we will collaborate with young influencers from all over the world in order to reach a large number of young people. The goal of these workshops will be to help young people create good resumes, have the keys to a successful job interview and know their rights as young people in the workplace. We will be accompanied by professionals who will give lectures and workshops.
We will make our website and our social networks even more interactive and visible. Thanks to our collaborations with influencers and decent work professionals, we will develop our visibility. Forums and interactive advice pages according to the profile of each person will be set up on our website. Furthermore, our social media will be the main image of Lilac, we will develop them so that youth and more are aware of what decent work is. We will share tips on our social networks, we will do live interviews with influencers… Our interactions with our followers will be even closer.
“We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future”- Franklin D. Roosevelt
To put in a nutshell, working together around an innovative project such as Lilac brought us to a better understanding of the issues surrounding job accessibility for the European Youth. The worries implied by the latter, together with the imperatives of the SDG8 and the will of the United Nations to work hand in hand with civil society, governments, and private companies, encouraged us to take control of our destiny. As the SDG8 proposes, Lilac wants to foster entrepreneurial culture and encourage young people on the path of decent work.
We faced challenges, the current pandemic hindering our willingness to meet and work together and the lack of durable solutions proposed by governments to adjust youth unemployment. However, we stayed robust and convinced that young people need help and can stand together to empower each other, enhance each other’s skills and facilitate the job seeking process for every one of us. Being part of the group we want to reach was not an easy task but we were sure we got a good understanding of the needs of our target population. Did we change the world? Maybe not, but at our level we fight for change and to increase the possibilities for the youth everywhere through our online platform. Our motivation came from personal experience and the feedback we got when interviewing students. There is a need and we design an innovative platform to fill it up.
Our hopes for the future are to continue to grow as an organization, to always help more people in getting their working profile as neat as possible and enhance all young people’s chances to get employed at a level they deserve. Raising awareness of decent work and what human beings deserve when they are in their workplace is also a priority. Therefore, we hope you will join us on our great journey, do not hesitate to contact us on our social media😉.