International conference addressed policies for school dropouts

  • Article


Experts from the fields of education, training, and vocational integration came together at an international conference to reflect, sharing knowledge and good practices aimed at young school dropouts who are unemployed and have low qualifications.

The initiative took place last week in Matosinhos, under the theme "Working together to offer a better future for young people in the Mediterranean area", and was attended by the councilor for Education and Social Cohesion of the Porto City Hall, Fernando Paulo.

He was part of a roundtable for the creation of an ecosystem around young people and Second Chance Schools at the Euro-Mediterranean level. Fernando Paulo spoke about the municipality's approach, specifically under the AIIA Programme – Integrated Approach to Active Intervention, which aims to promote social inclusion and contribute to reducing poverty and unemployment in the city's most vulnerable areas.

"After the conclusion of a survey study and characterization of young NEETs - young people between the ages of 15 and 29 who do not study, do not work, and are not attending vocational training - we sought to make a detailed analysis of all the dimensions of the phenomenon in the city, with the goal of defining a set of guidelines for the action to be implemented by the Municipality and other partners of the social network," he explained.

Fernando Paulo spoke about two solutions created, namely the NEET Service, focused on the development of insertion activities in the labour market and the definition of employability projects, with and for young people in NEET situations, and the strengthening of the skills and resources of the social network partners who work with this group of youths.

A skill-building programme was also developed, and has already had two editions. "The Power Code consists of a 4-month intensive training process through which participants are trained in code bases and programming, which is essential to becoming qualified programmers, with an internship and insertion in the labour market also being guaranteed," he said.

As for the second chance school, the political leader spoke of municipal support for the socio-educational project of "Arco Maior". "The municipality provides facilities in two of the hubs and annually enters into a support agreement for the development of the socio-educational project," he said.

Strategic cooperation

Cooperation with the Aga Khan Foundation in these matters was also addressed with a view to promoting the inclusion of youths who are in situations of social vulnerability, through the creation and development of programmes and instruments that help with the creation of employment opportunities, training, access to services, and answers in city spaces and organisations.

The CaixaProinfancia programme, is being implemented in Porto, together with the La Caixa Foundation, and is aimed at families with children between the ages of 0 and 18 in situations of poverty and social exclusion, with the main goal of breaking the circle of generational poverty, guaranteeing the access of children in situations of social exclusion to quality educational opportunities.

"We wish to stimulate and support projects that target the participation of young people and offer them new opportunities. For example, this year, for the first time in the scope of the Towards Excellence Awards, a City Hall initiative to honour the best students, we created the Revelation Award, which aims to celebrate the value and merit of the younger generations. It is the recognition of students who show great skills or exemplary attitudes in overcoming difficulties or who develop initiatives or actions, equally exemplary, which are of a clear social or community benefit or expression of solidarity, at school or outside it", explained the councilor for Education.

The roundtable was also attended by a representative of the French Development Agency, Quentin Lebègue, the head of Operations and Development of the Heure Joyeuse Association (Morocco), Soukaima Elghazi, the director of International Cooperation of the Tunisian Employment Agency, Najet Galaoui, and the director of E2O Portugal and coordinator of ESOM, Luís Mesquita.

The conference was organized by MedNC Network – Mediterranean New Chance Network. Coordinated by the European Institute for Cooperation and Development (IECD), the MedNC Network currently represents 55,000 young people from 10 countries in southern Europe, northern Africa, and the Middle East. The network is supported by the Union for the Mediterranean, the French Development Agency, the Drosos Foundation, and the European Union, through the Erasmus+ programme.