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. www.s2wflagship.eu
Baltic Training Programme Supports the internationalization of vocational education and training as well as entrepreneurship and the internationalization of business. www.baltictrainingprogramme.se
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/
PA Educaton organizes three stakeholder seminars during March, in Vilnius on March 2, in Riga on March 15 and in Tallinn on March 19.
Participants will first hear about Baltic cooperation and the work of the existing flagships. After that, the idea is to launch a creative discussion in five groups on following topics: early school leaving, improved quality of vocational education through internship and entrepreneurship, higher education in an international perspective, including labor market and integration of refugees.
Participants also have the opportunity to present and discuss their own project proposals. At the end of the event, there will also be an opportunity for individual consultation with the Policy Area Coordinator, who can provide valuable input for the development of the project ideas.
“If we fix good multi-level coordination of discussions and activities, we might eliminate the need of persuading each other of the value, and move to more collaborative mode of engagement.” This was the conclusion of the open space exercise starting with the question “How will you convince the holder of national EU Funds to invest in macro-regional strategies?”
National Coordinators, Policy Area Coordinators and Horizontal Action Coordinators, together with representatives of Managing Authorities in European Structural and Investment Funds, 54 participants in total, gathered for the first module of the EUSBSR Support in Riga.
This module will be followed by five more in this capacity building programme for coordinators in the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region. The programme is based on peer learning with three prioritie: The topic for the 1st module was “Aligning Funding for Policy Impact” with discussions such as cooperation across functions: Alignment in Practice Exploring alignment of funding in smaller cross-functional teams, with real-life formats that PACs and HACs work in and Beyond 2020: feeding forward to the new funding period. Designing a collaboration interface between PACs/HACs, National Coordinators and the EU funding programmes.
Next module will be held in Tallinn on 12 and 13 December with the topic; Monitoring & Evaluation in the EUSBSR: WHAT? WHY? HOW?
Would your organisation like to start or expand collaborations that contribute to sustainable economic, environmental or social development in the Baltic Sea Region? The Swedish Institute will soon open a new call for applications.
Swedish organisations can apply for seed funding from the Swedish Institute in order to cooperate with organisations in the Baltic Sea Region countries and organisations in the EU’s Eastern Partnership countries.
The project activities that the Swedish Institute supports via ‘seed funding’ must be clearly linked to one or more of the challenges identified in the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region. The projects should help to create conditions for long-term, sustainable relations in the region.
The next call will open soon and close on 13 February 2018. More information about seed funding can be found on the website of the Swedish Institute. You can find more information via this link.
The ESF Transnational Platform helps stakeholders using the ESF to find and collaborate with partners in other countries. The platform was established by the EU Commission in order to support transnational cooperation in the ESF.
The Platform runs nine thematic mutual learning networks and facilitates coordinated calls for proposals. It publishes articles, newsletters and technical dossiers, as well organising an annual event.
The European Commission has announced a call for proposals under the Erasmus+ programme KA3, Support for policy reform, Joint qualifications in vocational education and training (VET).
The overall objectives of the call are, on the one hand, to increase the employability of young people and to contribute to the development of a highly skilled, qualified and mobile workforce from which companies should also benefit and, on the other hand, to support joint developments in VET in Europe and strengthen overall its quality, relevance and attractiveness.
The specific objective of the call is to support the preparation or setting up of joint VET qualifications including at higher level or the improvement of such existing qualifications. The transnational qualifications should comprise strong work-based learning and a mobility component, address learning outcomes, quality assurance and proper recognition while making use of relevant European tools and instruments.
Against the background of high youth unemployment, skills mismatch and shortages as well as the need for higher level skills at sectoral level, joint VET qualifications have the potential to address these challenges and ensure that VET response better to labour market needs.
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.