In many rural areas of Europe, the trend is the same: there are very few job opportunities. The youth unemployment rate is high and many of these young people, who have dropped out of school, have few professional skills and therefore have difficulty finding work.
To combat this there is a European project (eNEET Rural) in which Extremadura participates. It is based on innovation and technology within the agricultural sector and on creating tools for young people who are not still in the education system, who are not working or who are not being trained to work.
The main objective is to encourage entrepreneurship among students and the creation of agricultural SMEs. In addition, the aim is to ensure that students are able to develop good practices in the rural world. Among other aspects, they are taught what types of industry work in the agricultural sector.
The tools offered include online and face-to-face training, youth competitions, people exchange schemes and mentoring services.
The member countries are Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Spain, Slovenia, Italy and Norway. “We have a bilateral agreement with Portugal. The other countries that are part of the project also have agreements with their neighboring nations, so although they are not part of the project, they are interested in it. Some of them are Bulgaria-Greece, Romania-Latvia or Italy-Malta,” explains Ana Serrano, head of technology transfer projects at the Agri-Food Technology Center of Extremadura (CTAEX).
This research center is the only Spanish participant in the project, and it seems important to promote training among young people, considering that in order to achieve a generational change in the region there is a need for trained people to take over from their parents and take a step forward to form their own companies in the rural world. That is why they decided to join the project.
The eNEETS started in October 2018 and ends next September. Now they are doing a kind of contest in which each participating country offers new entrepreneurship ideas and projects related to the agricultural sector. Spain has made three proposals and will meet in Budapest with the rest of the nations to choose the winning idea.
One of the training sessions. / HOY
They want to request an extension of the project in time and provide more quality training. Also improve the tools available, during the pandemic in many cases some students did not have wifi. Serrano explains that with the pandemic it has been complicated to give face-to-face classes, so this last year most of it has been ‘online’ training.
“We want students to develop skills to prepare their resumes and be successful in their job interviews. We also want them to have a basis for business creation, including finance, legal conditions and presentation of business ideas,” says Serrano. In addition, we teach specific topics on agriculture, remembering that most of them have parents associated with working the land. What we are trying to do is to provide more opportunities in this sector by encouraging entrepreneurship.
In total there are 1,200 students, and CTAEX is responsible for the training of more than 200 students, distributed between the north of Cáceres and Badajoz. The plan proposes that young people with a Secondary Education degree will benefit from training on how to set up a business, those without this qualification will receive preparation to carry out work and develop certain skills. Farmers and farm owners involved in mentoring sessions will be part of the training team, other participants are integrated into an international youth development network and are invited to staff exchange programs.