School to Work Aims to strengthen transnational cooperation between stakeholders in the Baltic Sea Region in the field of education and work in order to prevent early school leaving and develop support for vulnerable groups of students/youth. groupspaces.com/eusbsr-education/item/844928
Baltic Training Programme Supports the internationalization of vocational education and training as well as entrepreneurship and the internationalization of business www.baltictrainingprogramme.eu
Baltic University Programme Largest university network in BSR focused on sustainable regional development through cooperation in education, research and applied projects www.balticuniv.uu.se
Baltic Sea Labor Forum Aims to promote social dialogue, tripartite structures and cooperation as crucial elements of sustainable growth and social development in the BSR www.bslabour.eu
Baltic Science Network Aims to provide science and research ministries of the Baltic Sea region states with an overall coordination framework to develop and implement science policy in a macro-regional dimension and to ensure a better representation of macro-regional interests on the EU level http://www.baltic-science.org/
Policy Area Education, Research, Employability
Policy Area (PA) Education contributes to strengthening the social dimension of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region (BSR). It covers three policy areas:education, research, employability. Increased prosperity in the BSR presupposes access to good education and training for all, an effective and inclusive welfare system and a well-functioning labor marketsupporting geographical, professional and socio/economic mobility.
The transition from school to work is one of the most difficult periods in the life of a young person. Even from a European societal perspective, the difficulties for young people to establish themselves in the labor market is one of our major political challenges.
School to Work is a process, so called flagship, within the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region, Policy Area Education. In this flagship, stakeholders should work together, within networks and projects, to find common solutions and good examples of policies that lead to better transition from school to work. The Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions (SALAR) leads the Flagship School to Work.
Three platforms focus on different groups
The work at the Flagship is organized in three knowledge platforms. They have a focus on three different groups of people. One of the knowledge platforms is acitve in area of prevention of early school leaving and thus has a focus to young people who are 16 to 20 years old.
The second Flagship has a focus to those young people who are in a situation when they have no employment, education nor training.
And the third knowledge platform, which is also the latest one, assembles knowledge and expertise in work with integration of newly arrived refugees.
The knowledge platforms on prevention of early school leaving and integration of newly arrived refugees is led by the Division of Education of City Turku. The knowledge platform on integration of young people in NEET situation is managed by Norden Association in Sweden.
New membership levels
At the beginning of the summer, a large number of stakeholders, public and private organizations and civil society representatives, were invited to find common denominations for continued cooperation. At this time, three levels of membership were also presented.
- The first level, Associate Members, can include stakeholders, municipalities and schools that are interested in projects and in learning something new, says Inta Edgarsson at SALAR. The second level includes among others, those who already work with projects and who need more expert support and knowledge about new methods.
Stakeholders at this level may be interested in running projects under the ESF, who announced a call for transnational cooperation within youth employment.
The third level is strategic. This level consists of, among others, ministries, employment agencies and ESF, working together to support the development of new methods. In a first part of the work, a mapping of current activities is done to see what's actually been done.
- We are learning more about specific activities conducted by our members, how they are organizing them, what kind of personal approach they have towards the young people and how they are doing the follow ups, says Inta Edgarsson.
This autumn, many activities are being planned within the framework of the Flagship School to Work. One example is a visit to Turku, Finland, where around 20 participants from the Baltic Sea countries will study good examples of labour market integration, with focus on one stop shop for young people who need support and on how to increase the attractiveness of Vocational Education and Training.
The countries in the Baltic Sea Region will work together to improve the integration of migrants and vulnerable groups in the labor market, combat early school leaving, raise youth employment, secure knowledge supply and counteract the effects of an ageing population. Behind the decision on in-depth cooperation are all governments around the Baltic Sea, Iceland and Norway.
Labor Market Ministers, that are responsible for cooperation, have adopted a declaration that is supported by a wide range of parties: the declaration text has been worked out by the Swedish Institute through the Baltic Leadership Program, BLP, as well as the Baltic Sea Labor Forum, BSLF, which consists of both workers and employers organizations, researchers, civil society organizations and authorities at national, regional and local levels. BSLF is a flagship within the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region, Policy Area Education, coordinated by the Norden Association and the City of Hamburg. Common objectives include reducing poverty, all forms of inequality, unemployment and tearing barriers to inclusion in the labor market.
Common problems despite differences
Although the Baltic States economies are different, many of the problems are common. This was evident during the Berlin meeting when the Baltic countries adopted the declaration of cooperation. Integration of migrants is an area that almost all countries identified as important. Several of the participants emphasized the importance of free labor mobility, as a way of managing skills.
Countries with strong economies can, by attracting highly skilled workers, solve some of the skills needs. But there is a backside to this: Emigration of highly skilled people is a big problem in, for example, Lithuania. Many well-educated young people leave the country in search of a better life in Britain, Ireland, Norway, Sweden and Germany. Lithuania hopes that, in the context of closer Baltic cooperation, the countries will find common denominators and good examples of solutions.
"It is important that those who move get safe and secure working conditions, where trade unions and employers are important players," said Ėglè Radišauskienė, Deputy Labor Market Minister in Lithuania. She also hopes for Baltic cooperation to create new jobs in Lithuania and that information may be disseminated to Lithuanians abroad about good living conditions if they return to their home country.
Russia is experiencing both sides of the coin
In Russia, both dimensions of the mobility of labor are present: The economic strength is unevenly distributed in the country. Highly educated young people leave economically weaker areas and help fill the needs of well-educated labor in economically stronger areas of the country. The economically weaker parts suffer from this migration.
"This is an important issue for us and we are very interested in the cooperation," said Denis Vasilyev, deputy director of the Federal Labor Market Service in Russia.
The labor market requires new skills
Torben Albrecht, State Secretary at the Ministry of Labor in Germany, highlighted digitization and demographic changes as topics for Baltic cooperation.
"We do not think robots and computers will take all the jobs, but many jobs disappear and new ones are created, which require other skills. Here it becomes interesting to learn from each other how to handle the skills supply.
Latvia focuses on vulnerable groups
Ingus Alliks, State Secretary in Latvia, said that the country prioritizes integration of vulnerable groups and looks forward to the exchange of good, evidence-based practices. He was also concerned about the consequences of an aging population:
"Employers have a key role to play in creating an accessible labor market, where older people can also work with good conditions.
Work at full speed
This autumn, work in thematic working groups starts as a common learning process around the Baltic Sea. The groups include actors from local, regional, national, public and private actors as well as civil society. Annica Dahl, State Secretary at the Ministry of Labor in Sweden, looks forward to the deepening cooperation:
"Now we have a platform for common priorities in the labor market. I think the most important thing is to learn from each other. An expert group is set up consisting of politicians and experts in these areas. We will see what results will come out of it.
A lot of hope is attached to regional cooperation and its ability to pull EU out of current difficulties, connected to Brexit and the refugee crisis.
Cooperation must get closer to the people and include organizations at all levels in society, local, regional, national, NGOs and academia. EUSBSRs first Participation Day ever, an idea that originated in the Danube Strategy, took place in Berlin in connection to this years Annual Forum. The arrangement gave new stakeholders possibility to meet experienced stakeholders and discuss new projects.
CLICK HERE to read more about Participation Day 2017 in Berlin.