Young entrepreneurs from Trento gathered to exchange experiences

The Autonomous Province of Trento organised on 8 July 2021 an online meeting in collaboration with Confindustria (General Confederation of Italian Industry). Three young Trentino entrepreuneurs were invited to present their experiences and challenges. The aim of the webinar was to promote an entrepreneurial spirit among young participants, mostly youth workers and students. A focus was set on two rural areas identified for the project, namely Valle del Chiese and Primiero.

Serena Beber, Ecotop manager, Luca Cattoi, founder of Graffiti 2000 and Valentina Togn, owner of the Wine cellar Valdadige presented their exeperiences in three differents sectors.  Ecotop deals with environmental challenges and waste management; Graffiti 2000 is a web marketing and communication agency, while Valdadige produces wines.

The discussions revolved around the following question: ‘What are the core elements of a good entrepreneur? It was interesting to see that all three Trentino entrepreneurs converged to a common point of view and stressed the following features: idea/creativity, ambitiousness, perseverance and optimism. However, according to them, the most challenging element to acquire was the skills.

Luca Cattoi declared: ‘If you want a successful business, you need great expertise. When you are young, it is possible that you make some mistakes. However, over the years, you should make fewer mistakes. We are talking about agile working,  doing things one step at a time, doing a small piece, validating it and seeing if it works, the BIG goal is done with many small goals’. Another relevant aspect that was underlined is that you have to test your business every day to verify strengths and weaknesses and find adequate solutions to face the problems.

All three Trentino entrepreneurs agreed on the fact that schools should teach ‘how to learn’, practical work and not only from books. The learning does not end with school certificates but it continues throughout the whole life. Young people have to steadily learn and upskill by undertaking experiences in different sectors and also abroad.

Varaždin County spreads youth entrepreneurship spirit

In the context of the YESpecialists project, co-funded by the Erasmus+ programme of the European Union, Varaždin County is configuring local ecosystems that promote entrepreneurial mindsets among young people in rural areas. This is done thanks to two youth workers, Igor Pičuljan and Tena Terzić, who are conducting research among youngsters and teachers at school to find their needs and form viable solutions.

Their first step was to introduce themselves to school principals and teachers who are assigned to the project to have a common ground on YESpecialists mission. They talked about what is preventing them from enabling their students to be entrepreneurs at their age and how this can be enabled. Challenges in relation to the system and law were identified, so alternative options are being explored always from a legal perspective. An initial idea might be that the school or a third party takes care of legal and tax aspects, while youngsters focus on their passion and develop it.

Then, meetings are also being held with school classes, during which YESpecialists is being introduced. The main focus of presentations are always young people and their answers to questions such as: What makes you happy? What are your plans after school? What do you want to do in life? What is missing to achieve it at home? Do you think possibilities are higher in town? Did you ever think about starting your own business? Do you know what is an ecosystem?

Key outcomes are that young people are often scared of the idea and are not able to see a straight way forward since they lack knowledge and role models. Youth worker Mr. Pičuljan explains: “I could see in their eyes a spark of hope when I was talking to them, but we need to encourage them with our frequent activities and setting small milestones which can be measured and show them results of their actions. Also, we need to connect them with role models which are good examples of successful business. Those connections need to be related to the domain to which the students belong, not putting them all in a one big basket, but rather approaching them personally with tailored programmes. It is up to us to be wise and see which ones can be in a same group because they are sharing the same professional field but they are not covering the same topic.”

In order to better connect with young people in the area, a Facebook page and an Instagram account have been created (in Croatian) so that they can follow updated information and actions. During the next school year (2021-2022), individual meetings will be held with students to form a plan of actions in which some light yet measurable milestones can be set in order to increase motivation. The ultimate goal is to fuel their passion.

This article was originally published at EARLALL’s website on 29 June 2021:

Virtual trip to Asturias: second YESpecialists transnational meeting

YESpecialists project partners met online for their second official transnational meeting, hosted by the Principality of Asturias, on 7 and 8 April 2021. During these two days, partner representatives embarked on a digital trip to Asturias that allowed them to familiarise themselves with best practices in the region for boosting entrepreneurial spirit among young people. Best practices were introduced by representatives of the Tourism Office, Valnalón, and two VET schools (IES Luces and IES Pando) in the region of Asturias. Furthermore, the case study of Varaždin’s European Talent Centre was presented by a representative from the county, followed by internal project discussions on its work-in-progress outputs and further steps.

On the first day, Delfina García, from Asturias’ Tourism Office took the partners on a digital journey through Asturias, presenting its landscapes and local traditions. Then, best practices were introduced by Iván Diego Rodríguez, from Valnalón (Ciudad Industrial del Valle del Nalón), who presented of the incuVET’s project (2014-2016), aimed at supporting and promoting an innovative role for VET schools as local or regional hubs for entrepreneurship. Mr. Rodríguez also presented the TRACKTION program, which focuses on improving the tracking of VET graduate at institutional level. The goal of this initiative is to record information on graduates, regarding their learning progress and employment pathways.

This second transnational meeting also showcased interesting initiatives by two VET schools (IES Luces and IES Pando), aimed at developing new skills; incorporating new technologies; encouraging creativity, talent and entrepreneurship; and setting up relationships between schools and companies. In particular, the interesting case study of spirulina algae cultivation was introduced by M. Soledad Martínez (IES Luces) in the context of its agriculture innovation projects.

Furthermore, in a more project-specific context, the case study of Varaždin’s European Talent Centre was presented by Robert Kelemen from Varaždin County, followed by internal project discussions on its work-in-progress outputs and further steps. Finally, Eva María Gómez Castaño, the YESpecialists logo designer and young creator from IES Pando selected among a competition held between students in project partners’ regions and VET centres, explained its meaning and narratives.

The next transnational meeting is expected to take place in Ringkøbing-Skjern in the summer-autumn 2021.

This article was originally published at EARLALL’s website on 13 April 2021:

YESpecialists takes off: two days, infinite best practices!

The YESpecialists project, led by Vestland County Council (Norway) and co-funded by the Erasmus+ programme of the European Union, was officially kicked-off at a two-day conference held on 22 October and 9 November 2020. The Youth Entrepreneurial Spirit Specialists project aims at building local and regional ecosystems that foster youth entrepreneurship in rural areas by having local stakeholders joining forces: regional/local authorities, education centres, businesses, youth organisations and civil society. Project parters that are joining this innovative initiative are Tuscany Region (Italy), the Autonomous Province of Trento (Italy), Varaždin County (Croatia), Ringkøbing Skjern Municipality (Denmark), and the Principality of Asturias (Spain).

The kick-off conference introduced key topics that will be touched upon during the project, gathering experts on different aspects in relation to youth entrepreneurship and rural development. The first day focused on good practices of entrepreneurship education in rural Europe, featuring examples of best practices from the project partner regions. The conference was opened by Mette Nora Saetre, Head of Urban and Rural Business Development at Vestand County Council, who introduced participants to Vestland, a region with a “wide variety of industries, mainly ocean-oriented,” and Barbara Harterink, YESpecialists project coordinator (Vestland County Council).

Regional good practices followed. Iván Diego, from Valnalón, entrepreneurship agency from the Principality of Asturias, introduced Asturias’ strategy to boost entrepreneurship, based on three strategic axes: entrepreneurial culture and talent, start-up support, and impact & dissemination. Then, Miriana Bucalossi, from Tuscany Region, presented how community cooperatives have contributed to the development of rural areas in the region, and Emil Sloth Sig, Volunteer Coordinator at Ringkøbing Skjern Municipality, focused on the promotion of youth volunteering and its benefits for the community and individuals. Lastly, the case of Varaždin was introduced by  Petra Županić, who showcased how entrepreneurship education is organised at Ivanec High School, and Vestland’s  best practices in Florø Upper Secondary School and Odda Upper Secondary School were presented by Geir T. Rønningen. 

Good practices in building local partnerships to foster youth entrepreneurial skills were showcased during the second day of the conference. The film creative center VANIMA’s activities in Varaždin were highlighted by Hrvoje Selec, and the Clue to Inclusion project was introduced by Arthur Tøsdal (Årstad Upper Secondary School, Vestland), which sucessfuly transferred non-formal education methods into formal education. With regard to best practices in Ringkøbing-Skjern, Michele Lykke (startup consultant) presented the activity of Ringkøbing Skjern Erhvervsråd, the business council in the municipality, and Emil Sloth Sig (volunteer coordinator) showcased how youth inclusion in voluntary work is achieved in the area. Key actions in Tuscany were highlighted by Miriana Bucalossi, who introduced the region’s support to smart villages and co-working spaces. The research perspective was added by Rita Agdal, from the West Norway University of Applied Sciences, who explained the Asset Based Community Development (ABCD) method for community building.

Project partners are already working on their first work packages, identifying and mapping best practices across Europe to foster youth entrepreneurship in rural areas, and developing regional and local youth entrepreneurial skills ecosystems. The next transnational project meeting will take place in Asturias in spring 2021.

This article was originally published at EARLALL’s website on 12 November 2020: