The first International Symposium on Youth Employment Challenges (ISYEC I) took place between June 23rd-27th 2014, at Abdullah Gül University (AGU) in Kayseri, Turkey. It is a great pleasure for the organisers that the ISYEC I was supported by the former President of the Turkish Republic, Abdullah Gül, as well as being one of the very first events of its kind in Turkey. The themes of the first edition of ISYEC were
- Presentation of the cross-sectorial cooperation concept and sharing of existing experiences in cross-sectorial cooperation,
- Formulation of recommendations for better cross-sectorial cooperation and its promotion within academic institutions as well as in civil society organizations.
- Sharing of existing opportunities for the empowerment of youth.
Cross-sectorial approach being the core element of the symposium is perfectly in line with AGU’s identity and vision. AGU is a state university supported by a private foundation composed of renowned Turkish CEOs. Therefore, as three different sectors (public, private and formal education) cooperate on the AGU’s development, it has been decided within the AGU management to incorporate as a fourth pillar the non-formal educational sector as one of the main elements for a successful evolution of a 3rd generation university, AGU. That is why AGU was deemed the perfect hub to bring together the three sectors on the topic of Youth Employment and why the University has decided to launch the ISYEC series and to host these symposia in its Sümer Campus facilities in Kayseri. The entire three days were dedicated to bringing the private, public and educational (formal, non-formal) sectors together by their representatives throughout the Symposium. Day One focused on assessing the current situation of Youth Employment and Cross-sectorial Cooperation. Day Two, “Bridging the Fields”, was the opportunity for our experts to present examples and success stories of existing projects. Finally, Day Three served as the starting point for future plans and collaborations. After an Official Opening Ceremony to kick-off the event, throughout these three days, time was divided between Round Table sessions and Paper and Good Practice Presentations. While the former brought together 4 to 5 experts, as well as a chairperson, to discuss the subject of the day in a plenary session, the latter consisted of 4 simultaneous sessions, providing the opportunity for our speakers to present good practices and give advice to a smaller group of participants and to make us reflect on future collaboration projects. On the last day, all attendees also had the opportunity to participate in an Open Space session and to take the floor to present their organization and projects, which also encouraged networking among them. This first edition of ISYEC saw the intervention of many experts representing the three sectors and hosting important institutions such as:
- SALTO-Youth Euromed RC and Good Practices (on behalf of the European Commission)
- World Bank
- The Council of Europe
- The Turkish Ministry of Youth and Sports
- The Turkish Ministry of EU
- The Turkish National Agency
- Ankara University
- Middle East Technical University
- Bilkent University
- European Youth Forum
And many more…. In total and over the three days of sessions, ISYEC welcomed 128 participants and speakers representing 22 countries and achieving almost perfect gender balance (50.8% women, 49.2% men). The Educational sector was the most represented, followed by the public and private sectors.
Figure 1: Countries represented at ISYEC 2014
Overall, the ISYEC event triggered more than 5 Million interactions on social media and AGU trusts that it has great potential to have a great impact at the national and international levels and to generate a multiplying effect. The atmosphere at the Symposium remained positive and friendly throughout the entire duration of the event. The beautiful weather also helped AGU and the ISYEC attendees find the right balance between intense discussion sessions and relaxation time on AGU’s green campus areas, where many networking opportunities were created and connections and even friendships were established.
After the positive results of this first edition of the International Symposium on Youth Employment Challenges, the Abdullah Gül University is comforted in its objective to organize and host future editions which will each focus on a specific aspect of its core subject: Youth Employment.