ESC11 Individual Volunteering – “International School of Opportunity and Change – ISOC”

The Context

Italy, Spain and Greece were and still are the countries worst hit by the financial crisis, which had particularly damaging repercussions for young people. Youth unemployment has an excruciating direct and indirect effect, which tends to become a social crisis, creating serious threats for the future of the young European generation and their inclusion in society. Moreover, the skills-mismatch between what formal education provides and what the job market needs, as well as the lack of opportunities for young people to get inspired and trained to enter in the field of entrepreneurship create barriers to their efforts to enter the labour force and develop professionally. Finally, another issue young people of Europe face is the damage of cohesion and trust in public institutions and in European solidarity, especially the last 10 years as a side effect of the economic and refugee crises.

The Project

“The International School of Opportunity and Change – ISOC” was a long-term ESC volunteering project designed by EKO with the aim to respond to the following challenges:

Need 1 – The mismatch between the skills and abilities fostered by formal education and those required by the job market, especially in the field of entrepreneurship, that leaves young people feeling underprepared and underequipped as they enter the professional world

Need 2 – The feeling of isolation and the lack of opportunities for active social participation, esp.  in the wake of the pandemic

Need 3 – The existence of inequalities in lifelong learning and socio-economic inclusion opportunities faced by various vulnerable groups of young people

ISOC offered 4 young people from Greece the chance to step out of their comfort zone and develop a wide range of soft-skills important for the labour market in the 21st century, including entrepreneurial spirit and competencies. The program also helped participants to learn about alternative education approaches and social inclusion initiatives through a program of Volunteering Activities. The project entailed three separate activities:

A1: APV in Athens – unfortunately cancelled due to Covid-19 restrictions

A2: 9-months volunteering of 2 young people in MV International, in Sassari (Sardinia), Italy.

A3: 9-months volunteering of 2 young people in Asociacion Xeracion , in Ferrol, Spain.