On 27th June the University of Deusto team organized its first Youth Panel. Now that some of the initial results are emerging from the Work Package 1 and the policy trails, the idea was to receive some feedback and contrast ideas with young people as well as educators who work with them. Civil society organizations from the Basque country such as Peñascal, Adsis, and the Compensatory Education Consortium of Biscay took part in the panel. Although an invitation was extended to several other organizations that represent students, civil society and local authorities, they were unfortunately unable to attend.
Over coffee, the members of the youth organizations and the Spanish team addressed several topics such as: education and training as a means of social inclusion for all young people, prioritized and neglected target groups in lifelong learning, improving access and participation of young people in lifelong learning activities, the main difficulties, barriers and challenges encountered in lifelong learning and employment, as well as the benefits of learning. The Youth Panel provided a space for a constructive but critical discussion of these issues. According to the participants, age is key in determining if a group will be targeted or not. The younger one is, the more opportunities for learning he or she has in Spain. Also those that are seeking more formal learning opportunities are prioritized. Groups such as ethnic minorities and especially the Roma community, migrants, and those that are missing some paperwork to prove their disability, or a qualification they have obtained are the ones that are neglected.
Different barriers to learning were discussed such as personal problems, family, culture, religion, language, exam stress, and being a foreigner. Other types of barriers were detected when it comes to access to employment: lack of work experience, long-term unemployment, disabilities, lack of qualifications and accreditation, and age. How can these barriers be overcome? According to the young, it is very important to get support along the way: to get better informed on the options that are available to them, and to have access to more programs that offer work opportunities ones they finish the course. Thus, young people will be able to get work experience which is a common barrier in getting a job. All the participants agreed that there are important benefits to learning as it improves the quality of life and opens doors.
This was the first out of three meetings planned to be held in Bilbao in 2018 and 2019.