Klaudjo Kavaja is a big fan of volunteering – as are we and in this short information piece, he guides us through a number of popular ways for young people to get involved in European affairs.
Volunteering is a transformative experience for everyone and it is not limited by one’s age. For youth, who are in a restless search of new challenges volunteering for a project, a social initiative, or even their local community organisations can bring different benefits and open the doors for new opportunities. Out of this experience, young people can develop new skills, socialise with people they share same ideas with and build or expand their network. Most employers will treat volunteer activities as work experience, which will come handy once looking to land your first paid employment in a volatile job market.
How does the EU support volunteering?
The European Voluntary Service (EVS) offers the opportunity for young people (aged 18 – 30) to volunteer in other EU member states or further abroad. Usually, EVS lasts between two weeks and twelve months. In this case, organisations come together and form partnerships. One of the organisations serves as the sending organisation whereas the other as the receiving organisation which hosts the volunteers and is responsible for the delivery of the project. In the case of you running your own youth organisation, you can think of a project that you want to implement in your community, seek partners from other countries, and receive volunteers who will enrich the implementing experience bringing the project to life. These projects are financed and supported by the European Union and while volunteering, apart from building a plethora of different skills that can serve you in the job-market, you will also meet other volunteers from EU countries who share the same passions and goals with, who are either selected for the same projects or different EVS projects in the same place. More importantly, most, if not all costs of the volunteering experience are covered.
Second, a more recent EU initiative, the European Solidarity Corps, targets youth groups again aged 18 – 30 and according to its official website, youth can register before 18 years old but they will start participating in projects once they have turned the magic number. Through the Solidarity Corps young Europeans acquire project and volunteering experience either as volunteers or professionals. How does this work? Both the companies, NGOs, government organisations and the aspiring volunteers need to be registered in the Corps website where they are matched with employers contacting volunteers who are available for their work. Participants in this initiative can either opt for short-term volunteer positions that last from two weeks to one year. In all cases they will receive Youthpass and European Solidarity Corps certificates.
Both experiences are something to look-up to for young people who are taking some time off from their studies, using their long summer vacations, or who are taking a gap year, as they cover a number of initiatives from youth, social , environmental, and will foster equality and inclusion.