YES-YOU! Closing the YESpecialists project with our youth

The YES-YOU! Festival was an online event held on March 16, 2023 by the YESpecialists project team. The online festival provided a platform for young people to share their experiences and to showcase their activities within their local ecosystems.

Young people from the regional ecosystems shared their experiences in the project that focuses on youth entrepreneurship in rural areas. The students in Trento presented their project, Nero Bike, which focused on marketing and providing advice to managers using social media. The high school students, who were 17 years old, demonstrated their entrepreneurial spirit and utilized their creativity to effectively market their project.

In Varazdin, the 3rd-grade students at the Economic Technical Institute discussed and learned about different leadership styles, enhancing their leadership skills and knowledge.

In Denmark, the young people established a media agency and utilized social media to publish their marketing videos. One of their videos gained 30,000 views on Tiktok, demonstrating their effective use of social media.

In Norway, the students from Odda Upper Secondary School reached out to businesses in their region to explore the opportunities available to them for their future and they carried out a job-shadowing in both private and public organisations. They also engaged with municipal planners to discuss their wishes for their region and shared their ideas for future development.

The students of the higher technical economic institute “Balducci” in Santa Fiora, in Tuscany, expressed their impressions regarding the experience gained in the Yespecialists project and reported the YES learning pathway they made, from the questionnaire on entrepreneurship competences to the meetings with local entrepreneurs, which constituted a further step within the work-related experiences held at school. They hope to be able to continue the dialogue with local public and private organizations as well as with entrepreneurs, in order to continue to grow professionally and to have useful experiences for setting up their own business in their rural area.

The meeting was an excellent opportunity for the participants to learn, be inspired, and connect with like-minded individuals. Iva Janežić from Varaždin County was the moderator of the online discussions. Barbara Harterink, the project leader from Vestland County Council, gave the last presentation and concluded by introducing the YES Exchange in 2024, which will be held in August 2024 in Trento, Italy, and in August 2025 in another region. The project is funded through Erasmus+ YOUTH, and she encouraged the participants to be part of the working group.

Overall, the YES-YOU! Festival showcased the work of the young participants and highlighted the importance of building a supportive environment for youth entrepreneurship in rural areas, and the potential for positive change that can be achieved through such initiatives.

Participants also shared their testimonies through videos and quotes, highlighting the international training workshops in Croatia and Trento and the inspiring best practices they learned throughout the project. The event ended with a message of hope and inspiration, encouraging young people to continue pursuing their entrepreneurial dreams and creating positive change in their communities. We look forward to seeing the continued growth and success of this project and its participants.

YESFestival! A Celebration of Youth Entrepreneurship

On March 2 2023, EARLALL organised the YESFestival! – the final conference to mark the end of the Youth Entrepreneurial Spirit (YES) Specialists project. It was coordinated by Vestland County Council (Norway) and co-funded by the Erasmus+ programme of the European Union. The project partners are the Tuscany Region (Italy), the Autonomous Province of Trento (Italy), Varaždin County (Croatia), Ringkøbing Skjern Municipality (Denmark), and the Principality of Asturias (Spain), as well as the European Association of Regions and Local Authorities for Lifelong Learning (EARLALL).

The YESFestival! was held in a hybrid event at the European Representation of Tyrol-South-Tyrol and Trentino, and welcomed over 40 people to learn about the project’s results that are aimed at creating local youth entrepreneurial ecosystems. The event was kicked off with a video keynote speech from David Pejić:

The address was followed by a keynote speech from Larry Moffett of JEUNE – the Young Entrepreneurs Organizations of the European Union. Mr Moffett highlighted the importance of trust and paying it forward as key components of entrepreneurship ecosystems. Moreover, he highlighted how important mentorship is to young people.

The project partners then presented the three intellectual outputs of the project: a repository of best practices of youth entrepreneurship in Europe; a toolkit and piloting handbook and a guide for setting up a local entrepreneurial ecosystem in Europe.

Participants then got to hear from the experience of the young participants involved in the project through a video created to share their views:

The event concluded with a roundtable on ‘creating and sustaining youth entrepreneurship in Europe’, welcoming:

The panellists discussed the key challenges and opportunities they faced creating youth entrepreneurship, including engaging the key actors in both formal and non-formal education; raising awareness of the pathways for entrepreneurship; ensuring mentorship and recognition of young peoples’ work and the changing demands of agricultural and rural settings for young people.

The conference was an opportunity to showcase the work of the young participants involved and offered an opportunity for project partners to showcase the work with their local ecosystems.

  • The presentation of the event is available here.
  • The recording of the YESFestival is available here.

Tuscany Region exchanges with students of Santa Fiora

On 28 February 2023, the regional government of Tuscany organized a discussion seminar involving the young students of the Balducci High Technical Economic Institute of Santa Fiora and some entrepreneurs of the rural area of Amiata, who are part of the ASEA association.

The seminar, organized as part of the Erasmus + Yespecialists project, was held with the intent of matching the interests and ideas of the youngsters with the actual and future needs on the local level and to give them support for further development of their business ideas.

This focus group was one of the steps of the YES Tuscany pathway to help build local stakeholders’ networks, help young people to know their rural areas better, help youth voices be heard, and support and accompany young people in developing entrepreneurship ideas.

What do the youth involved in YESpecialists have to say about their experiences?

As YESpecialists draws to a close in 2023 and the YESFestival approaches, the partners wanted to learn about the experience of the young people directly involved throughout the two years of the project.

The young people shared their testimonies in videos and quotes, highlighting particularly the international training workshop in Croatia and Trento, as well as the international and inspiring best practices highlighted to them throughout the project.

Hear from youth from Denmark and Norway

Hear from youth from Trento

Hear from youth from Croatia

The steering committee met to discuss the progress of the local ecosystem project

The YESpecialist steering committee met online on the 20th of October to discuss the project’s progress and the further steps as the programme draws to a close in five months.

The first item discussed was the evaluation of the international workshop in Varaždin, Croatia, that was carried out from the 4-6 October. The workshop brought together young entrepreneurs and VET teachers from Norway, Denmark and Italy. The results of the evaluation survey sent out to the participants indicated that, after the workshop, 75% of participants said they were highly or extremely likely to implement mini projects in entrepreneurial education. A successful workshop!

Then the progress in the best practices map of youth entrepreneurship in rural areas was unveiled: the map now has over 25 best practices to discover.

The Steering Committee also discussed the future of the project and upcoming activities involving YESpecialist partners:

  • The final conference of the project was confirmed for March 2-3, with the details to follow shortly.
  • Our partners from Vestland (Norway) will present the YESpecialist project at the SMART MOUNTAINS European Mountain Convention on the 25 – 27 October in Italy
  • Our partners from the Autonomous Province of Trento will host a discussion on the entrepreneurial challenges in Trento
  • Our partners in Ringkøbing-Skjern (Denmark) are hosting a working entrepreneurship festival this week

You can keep up to date with the project on Facebook or Twitter!

Future young entrepreneurs and VET teachers from Norway, Denmark and Italy joined an international workshop in Varaždin

YesSpecialist project brought together future young entrepreneurs and VET teachers to participate at the second international workshop on topics agriculture, tourism, creative industries from 4 to 6 October 2022 in Varaždin County (Croatia).

Representatives of partner regions from Norway (Vestland), Italy (Trento and Tuscany) and Denmark (Ringkøbing-Skjern) visited Varaždin County that hosted Second Workshop on topics agriculture, tourism, creative industries as part of the YesSpecialist project. Considering that young people and their teachers are key actors for promoting innovative entrepreneurial models, the delegation of each region consisted of professional teachers, young people with an entrepreneurial mindset from rural areas (e.g. young entrepreneurs, start-up entrepreneurs, young initiators/innovators, youth workers, those who are engaged in the development of their rural area, etc.) and representatives of the project partners.

During their stay, they had the opportunity to try and practice many new informal learning methods in order to create a new modern methodology that will later help them build local ecosystems promoting innovative entrepreneurship concepts.

They also visited the RezervArt Association (Croatian Association for the Promotion and Development of Intellectual and Artistic Creativity), a self-sustaining “hub” of the creative industry, where they got familiar with the concept and programs of the Association. There they were especially motivated by the works of the world-renowned sculptor from Varaždin, Nikola Vudrag, and the owner of the company “Lola Guitars” and “Drevo”, Lovro Vujanec.

High School “Arboretum Opeka” Marčan, declared a Regional Center of Competence in Agriculture, was a second stop. Thereby, they got acquainted with the future place of excellence in vocational education and training, which will significantly contribute to the needs of the economy and the labor market. They’ve managed to spent some also socializing with young future agro-entrepreneurs.

In addition to diligent students, the best promoters of successful entrepreneurial stories are also hard-working farmers, so a visit to a former student of the School, today the owner of the successful OPG Patrčević was organized. His company is founded for drying pumpkin seeds and producing premium pumpkin oil, awarded at numerous international exhibitions. On that occasion, Yesspecialists also tasted dishes made exclusively from pumpkin seeds and pumpkin oil, what was a special experience as some of them heard about this food for the first time, and especially how beneficial it is for human health.

Participants were also introduced to activities of the Varaždin Technology Park, an entrepreneurial campus that gathers an ecosystem of innovative companies, providing them with modern infrastructure and access to a wide range of financing instruments and access to the global market. They were particularly interested in the Makerspace, a collaborative workshop space for rapid prototyping and production, whose goal is to enable the development and production of physical products in smaller numbers in a work environment that at the same time provides tools and knowledge.

Visitors also had an opportunity to learn more about the rich history of the Varaždin County, thanks to an expertly guided tour and going to the concert of the Varaždin Baroque Evenings, where the students of the Music School in Varaždin performed along with the Varaždin Chamber Orchestra.

An international workshop in Trento as part of the YESpecialists project

Partners of the YESpecialists project organised an international workshop in Trento (Italy), from 11 to 13 May 2022, with the aim of learning and promoting successful experiences in the field of entrepreneurship education. In this context, project partners from Varaždin County, Vestland County, Tuscany Region, Autonomous Province of Trento, Principality of Asturias and Ringkøbing-Skjern Municipality  visited numerous facilities in order to identify synergies and learn from best practices. They were accompanied by Vocational Education and Training teachers, youth workers, but also by local and regional officers.

One of them was the Bruno Kessler Foundation (FBK), a top research institute in Italy. According to the latest quality of research, the foundation is ranked as 1st for scientific excellence in three different subject areas, including economic and social impact. With its community of over 400 researchers, 140 PhD students, 200 visiting associates and students, 700 affiliates and accredited students, FBK acts as a science and technology hub, hosting a vibrant ecosystem of joint ventures, spin-offs, projects and training opportunity.

Then, participants were introduced to the SENSAT model, an example of cooperation between the research organization, numerous high schools and the real sector. Throughout the school year, students from different schools collaborated with FBK researchers to create different products ready for the market, which represents a real model of school-work combination.

The model simulates a company composed of specialized departments, where each department has its own area of expertise. In the process, all elements that characterize the innovation chain are covered, including legal aspects, market analysis, business plan development, impact assessment and the development and design of the technology itself. Multidisciplinary work teams are being created and each school takes care of one area of ​​development, based on its specific skills and expertise. Students have the opportunity to understand how research can have a real impact on the market and the local area.

Guests also attended the round table: “Entrepreneurship and youth contexts: megatrend, school, territory”. It was moderated by Martina Togn, President of the Association of Young Entrepreneurs Trentino, and one of the speakers was young digital entrepreneur who shared his experiences of working in Silicon Valley, but also the reasons for returning to Italy.

Participants visited the Istituto Pavoniano Artigianelli, a high school where they were introduced to the Artigianelli ecosystem for innovation. The school develops a specific, real market-oriented, educational model of graphic training. It was good opportunity to visit numerous school practicums and laboratories for innovation in business start-ups and business development. Then each of the partners had to design and present the model of launching similar initiatives in their local environment.

In the town of Rovereto, representatives of all partners were introduced to the interesting project “Progetto Manifattura Rovereto”, an incubator and center for companies with sustainable projects managed by the Trentino region. It is a model designed for sustainable growth that educates the public and fosters the green economy, essentially a platform for productivity with several purposes: office rental, smaller production, test labs, providing opportunities for research, education and services, skills and specialized knowledge. The project is the result of combined actions between companies, research laboratories, business-oriented services and other actors with the common goal of growing environmentally friendly companies. Progetto Manifattura Rovereto plans and manages buildings and infrastructures for green businesses, offering a stimulating, creative work environment through a combination of public and private activities. In addition, it builds and remodels buildings and delivers systems that have the least possible impact on the environment and promotes innovation through a mix of education, training, research, development and production that is used by many young entrepreneurs from this region and elsewhere in Europe.

Participants were extremely satisfied with the whole program of the workshop as it was interactive and facilitated by non-formal education methods. They had the opportunity to get familiar with bests practices and were able to connect to other European regional actors with similar characteristics by bringing to the table specific challenges and working together to solve them in order to secure innovative entrepreneurship ecosystems.

YESpecialists partners met with their local ecosystems

YESpecialists project partners organised three online discussions in February and March to meet with their local ecosystems. Teachers, youth workers, students and young people had the opportunity to discuss, share best practices, and get to know what the other local ecosystems are doing.

The first meeting was held on 9 February 2022 with teachers from Varaždin (Croatia), Asturias (Spain) Tuscany (Italy), Vestland (Norway), Trentino (Italy) and Ringkøbing-Skjern (Denmark). Teachers presented different learning methods to foster their student’s entrepreneurial mindset. These include problem-based learning, design thinking or learning by doing. They had the opportunity to ask questions to one another and exchange on their different education methods/practices.

The second meeting, organised on 23 February 2022, gathered young people, youth workers and students from the six regions listed above. Project partners and young people presented different activities developed in the rural areas. In Varaždin, for example, the Varaždin Underground Club is the oldest youth association in the County, where activities such as youth festivals in cooperation with the cultural sector are organised.

The last event took place on 16 March 2022 and gathered all the participants of the previous meetings: teachers, young people and students. The meeting started with a lecture from Mr. Robert Kelemen, Director of the European Talent Centre of Croatia. He gave 12 advices on how to develop the habit of creativity among students. He explained how to encourage creativity at school and the way it can create new opportunities for students. Mr Kelemen also highlighted the challenges to the development of creativity in non friendly environments. At school, students are supposed to gain practical skills that can be quantified; however, it is not possible to quantify creativity.

He was followed by three high school students: Luca, Giuseppe and Nicola from Trentino who presented creative videomaking, storytelling and digital marketing. They also explained their entrepreneurship concept to the audience and exchange with teachers present in the meeting on it.

Student involvement in strategic planning in rural Vestland

On the left: teacher Hilde Gjester Hoel, Odda Upper Secondary School
Young students: Hanna and Ylva
Below: Inge Håvard Aarskog, Head of economic development in Ullensvang Municipality

Good collaboration between our school and enterprises is important. Show us better which opportunities does Ullensvang give us?
We need to utilise all resources we have in Ullensvang for development and innovation.
-More variation in job offers, good work climate and gender equality.
-Ullensvang needs more local meeting places for all citizens in all ages, not only sport activities.
-We need something to come home to in the weekends and after finished higher education

These are just a few of the comments the students at Odda Upper Secondary School made during the 45 minutes digital meeting with their municipality this week. Teacher Hilde Gjester Hoel had prepared the students (aged 16-17) in her class, well in advance of the meeting. As part of their social science class, they had analysed the proposed strategic business plan of Ullensvang municipality.

The students showed that they are very much interested in the development of their rural home area. They want to make their rural community more attractive for inhabitants and attract new people to Ullensvang. The students have many concrete ideas and they liked to be invited to this dialogue meeting with their municipality. They touched on several topics, from good housing, leisure activities, public transport and safe roads to better language training for immigrants.
The young students also called for more collaboration among enterprises and for more innovation and new ideas, for example in the field of tourism. They want to put their municipality on the map by better promoting already existing festivals in Odda and Ullensvang. The students mentioned also some new concrete ideas, like “cycle for rent” and “building a cider-centre”.

Inge Aarskog, Head of Economic Development, was impressed after the meeting:
“They showed that they really care about the development of Ullensvang.”

Teacher Hilde is directly involved in YESpecialists project and said:
“It is very inspiring for the students to be actively involved in the development of the place where they grow up. Through this dialogue meeting with the Municipality they learned about strategic planning. We need to link entrepreneurial skills to all subjects in school, and we should preferably start already at kindergarten level.”

Next on the agenda is a meeting with the Head of Culture Else Marie Sandal, who was observer during this first dialogue meeting. She is looking forward to co-create the Culture plan together with the young students, not only listening to their good input but also challenging them: How do you see your role in this?

3rd YESpecialists transnational partners meeting hosted by Ringkøbing-Skjern municipality

YESpecialists partners met in Ringkøbing-Skjern (Denmark) and online on 26 – 27 October 2021 for their third transnational partners meeting. The meeting was successfully held in a hybrid way as some partners’ organisations still have restrictions to travel in place. During these two days, partner representatives discussed the project: its work in progress and further steps but also had the opportunity to discover local initiatives held in Ringkøbing-Skjern.

The first day of the meeting was mostly dedicated to internal discussions on the project. However, in the afternoon, Andreea Elena Oprea, Project Manager at DGI Vestjylland,presented some best practices in the region. She introduced the way DGI managed to create communities which encourage young people to join local sport associations through the concept of “village clusters”. The aim of these villages is to strengthen the rural life by establishing a common organisation that coordinates the villages. Citizens are directly involved through dialogue meetings which enable them to collaborate with the municipality, so that the citizens and the municipality can jointly optimize the municipal service. DGI also wanted to involve young people in the village clusters, so they created the “young clusters”, which involves young people from 15 to 25 years old. Young people can share their ideas and initiatives and be more involved in the local community.

During the second day, partners representatives present in Denmark visited the UCRS Vocational School in Skjern which was holding the UCRS Innovation Championships. Young students were presenting their innovative ideas and it was the occasion for partners to exchange views with them. Judges composed of teachers, local entrepreneurs and professionals had to vote for the idea they found the most interesting. In the afternoon, partners visited the “Yellow room”, (GUL STUE in Danish), a youth organization based in the southern part of Ringkøbing-Skjern municipality. It is called this way because the room and all the items present in the room are painted in yellow. The room hosts different activities for young children and teenagers, which makes the rural area livelier. Partner were welcomed by two young people of 20 years old. They explained how they managed to renovate the yellow room, which was an old shop, with donations, help of volunteers and a good dose of willingness. Partners finished this day by visiting the small lighthouse in Hvide Sande and seeing the north sea.

The next meeting of the YESpecialists project is expected in Trentino in spring 2021.

This article was originally published at EARLALL’s website on 3 November 2021: