During March 26-27, 2011, I had the great pleasure to deliver the training ENGAGEMENT with participants from seven countries: Romania, Bulgaria, Italy, Lithuania, Turkey, Slovenia, and Poland. We tackled a problem of European public concern raised by a Greek person on www.public-policies.eu, entitled “employment opportunities for women in remote areas.” We extended however the problem to address more vulnerable and at-risk groups like youth or immigrants. After one full day of work, participants identified solutions to address the problem and made a policy paper that will be sent to Mr. Laszlo Andor, European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion. Although the problem had been published long before the training, it received no solutions from citizens. So, participants first brainstormed solution ideas inspired from the situation in their countries:
Then, moderators from every group made plenary presentations of their findings and posted their solutions on the problem’s page:
As a result of the solutions identified by the participants, we discovered four options to address the problem: maintaining the status quo, improving the educational system, offering incentives to companies, and developing an awareness campaign. In the next step, we used the World Caffee to brainstorm what happens in every scenario. All participants had the chance to offer input for the four options:
Moderators then made plenary presentations of every option:
The next day, I made a plenary presentation of what happened in the previous day, we saw again what were the results, we reanalyzed the four options, and made a decision regarding what to recommend to the European Commission in the policy paper. The final recommendation reads as follows: We consider that the continuation of the status quo will have serious negative impacts on the employment situation of vulnerable groups like young people, women and immigrants. We therefore ask the European Commission to support a programme aimed at establishing an outsourcing online platform for companies. This platform would allow them to advertise the services they need and establish communication with vulnerable groups who have the skills to offer the services or suggest ideas. This way, Europe will support social economy as a means to improve the situation of vulnerable groups. We also ask the European Commission to support a Recommendation for the Member States, in order to encourage them to develop more practical curricula in schools, to encourage teachers to keep themselves up-to-date with the latest developments in their fields of expertise and to advise governments to impose smaller taxes on the salaries of young workers or other vulnerable groups.
The policy paper can be downloaded from the problem’s page. We are also going to publish there the response we receive from the European Commission. I congratulate the Students’ League from the Electronics Faculty Iasi and the Center for Sustainable Community Development Giubega – Dolj County, for making this training possible! The training ENGAGEMENT serves SMART Method of Public Policy, offering a mix of online and offline participation tools using the World Caffee, to get more interactivity and leverage to the participation process.