“Young people’s human and social capital is one of Europe’s greatest assets for the future… the economic crisis has hit young people hard … Member States will continue to work together to improve their employability, their integration in the labour market, their social inclusion and participation” (EC Report 2015).

The SUMMER e-CHALLENGE project was developed based on a needs identification of the consortium, as it acknowledges and supports:

– the changing role of youth workers to provide high-quality services based on building competences, raising quality standards, enriching expertise and reinforcing links between policy, research and practice.
– the unique potential of using the non-working time of formal schooling, which as reported in the 2015 Eurydice Rep. ranges from 13-19 weeks holidays per year, for the benefit of the young people. The opportunity to use this free time in non-formal learning participation can contribute towards raising attainment (PISA) and acquiring key skills/ attitudes related to employment that might not be promoted in formal education so much.
– the great potential of the opening of education, giving young people opportunities to learn, at anytime and anywhere (DG EC 2014).

The project is in line with the 2015 EC Reports on the Quality of Youth Work as it aims to design a complete “Summer e-Challenges programme” and a dynamic “e-tool” that will promote in a systematic way the acquisition of young people’s digital and soft skills (employability /entrepreneurial) based on benchmarks and indicators provided through non-formal learning activities, while enhancing the professionalism of Youth Workers. Summer time is utilised here in a meaningful and constructive way equipping young people with essential skills to support their participation in society and raise at the same time school performance standards. It also contributes towards social inclusion with the provision of participation opportunities to young people with few opportunities.

Youth workers will support young people (13-16 yrs) with fewer opportunities regardless of their abilities, language or background to acquire, record and recognize digital / soft skills acquired in order to become visible and useful to support them in their academic life, career orientation and ensure better skills-match for employment, personal development, social inclusion and active participation in all forms of life: school, community and family, while bridging the gap between education and work. The SUMMERS e-CHALLENGES programme will support their career prospects and open up new visible routes for their future.

The integration of digital technology supports the design of an innovative and dynamic Open Education Resource (OER) tool that will RECORD DATA (young people’s achievements etc.), but at the same GENERATE RELEVANT DATA for youth workers, to evaluate and analyse their skills gained in non-formal activities. In this way a new methodology is being developed in which EVIDENCE BASED data can support and upgrade youth workers professional qualities to analyse and provide valid guidance for the young people’s career orientation and contribute towards better skills match, as suggested by the Joint Report for the renewed framework for EU cooperation in YOUTH (2012/C 394/03).

In the above context the project supports the efforts of partner countries to promote the recommendations of the: EU Strategy for Youth (2009) (Field of Actions: Education – Creating more opportunities for youth, Social inclusion, Participation), the EC Recommendation for the validation of non-formal learning (2012), the EC Recommendation on the Key Competence (2006), the Digital Agenda for Europe, e-Skills for Jobs and the Coalition of Digital Jobs.

The project contributes towards achieving the following priorities set by the Erasmus+:
– Promoting high-quality youth work (Spec.) and professionalision of youth workers by developing their digital competences,
– Promoting empowerment focusing on autonomy, participation and the active citizenship of young people (Spec).
– Improving achievement in basic and transversal competences in a LLL perspective, through formal or non-formal learning (Hor)
– Promoting inclusion by developing social, civic, intercultural competences, combating discrimination and segregation, reducing disparities (Hor).
– Enhancing access, participation and performance of disadvantaged learners and facilitating their transitions: between education levels and from education/training to the world of work (Hor)
– Promoting open and innovative youth work embedded in the digital era through creating synergies, digitalizing learning, promoting the use of ICT as a driver for systemic change to increase the quality and relevance of youth policies (Hor)
– Helping sustainable investment through the use of evidence-based reforms that deliver quality in (formal and non-formal) learning settings (Hor).

“Summer eChallenge – Acquiring Soft & Digital Skills Through Non-formal Free-time Practices” is a project co-funded by the Erasmus+ Youth in Action programme of the European Union. This communication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.