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Agenzia Nazionale Politiche Attive del Lavoro European Commission

Storytelling - ECES: inspiring young Europeans.

Every day more and more European citizens live and work in a Member State other than their country of origin, bringing different skills and new perspectives to the companies or organizations where they work. But, sometimes, finding people with the right mix of commitment, dedication and passion and who share the philosophy of our organization or company, can be a challenge.

Today we want to tell the positive impact that projects such as Your first EURES job, can have in supporting employers in the search for workers in other European countries. This is why we interviewed Fabio Bargiacchi, creator, Executive Director and co-founder with Abbot Apollinaire Malu Malu of ECES, the European Centre for Electoral Support, a foundation created in 2010 that promotes sustainable democratic development through assistance and operational support services to electoral actors.

The interest of ECES and Dr. Fabio Bargiacchi for Your first EURES job and European mobility projects, has ancient roots: "... I was also a young beneficiary of European projects – Dr. Bargiacchi told us by telephone in Brussels – after my university studies, I participated in three different programs, Erasmus, the European Union's student mobility program, created in 1987, then Petra, the action program for vocational training and the preparation of young people for adult and professional life, and finally Leonardo, the program which since 1995 has facilitated the acquisition of new skills, knowledge and qualifications by European citizens. I can say that these first experiences with European projects changed my life, and in a way, today I approach a project like Your first EURES job, this time as an employer because it offers me the opportunity to 'return' that set of life, experience, and skills that I have received".

Let us, then, try to get to know this organisation with which three young participants in the YfEj project have been involved in recent years: "ECES was born as the idea of a European non-profit foundation specialized in electoral support long before its official launch in 2010. The initiative has its origins in 1997 when I participated in an election observation mission in Bosnia for the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). There I realised that the EU and the EU Member States did not yet have organisations dedicated to electoral assistance. ECES – Dr. Bargiacchi tells us – was created precisely to provide the EU and the EU Member States with a method of implementing electoral assistance and assistance to democracy projects, which promote European values and European Union policies. ECES is committed to contributing to democratic and electoral processes around the world and, together with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and International IDEA, is currently one of the EU three most important partners for the implementation of electoral assistance. In fact, we carry out projects for third countries compared to the EU, especially in Africa where the need for electoral assistance is greater. Our interlocutors may be political parties and candidates, civil society, the media, institutions, but we always play our role on an equal footing, as independents, responding only to the policies of the EU and the Member States. We don't do politics, but we put politics into practice."

During the sixth edition of the Your first EURES job project, ECES included three young Europeans engaged in a traineeship with the qualification of Junior Project Officers in its Headquarters in Brussels: "young trainees – explains Dr. Bargiacchi – have been involved in a very important project, it is Innov-Elections a tool developed by ECES and that wants to offer an effective response to the challenges posed by the pandemic in providing electoral assistance activities, increasingly improving the contextualization of training programs to local realities affected by the COVID-19 crisis. The project was presented by ECES last December during the launch of the "Partnership with Africa" project by the Italian Foreign Minister. A project created in collaboration with the Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna di Pisa (SSSA) and carried out with the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR)".

ECES's activities have never stopped, but because of the health emergency, this new model of distance training for 11 African countries has been implemented. A "flagship" project for the launch of Italy's new partnership strategy with Africa to which, as we said, the young participants of the Your first EURES job project are also contributing today: "I was looking for something that would come as close as possible to my experience of youth work with Erasmus and Leonardo, with inter-European exchanges between very motivated people. Thanks to YfEj - continued Dr. Bargiacchi - I was able to meet young people with a high level of commitment, people involved who could certainly not be hired on the basis of a simple announcement on a website; I think that quality in work can only be achieved if people have their high involvement in the objectives of the organization. Today I see myself in these guys looking for their way, at the beginning of their career".

But how did our employer learn about the Your first EURES job project? "Everything started from a conversation with some Italian diplomats who told me about it - recalls Dr. Bargiacchi - then I carried out an online search and visited the YfEj website and thanks to this I got in touch with the YfEj Consultant Bernadette Greco who explained to me in depth how the project worked. As I said, for me YfEj is an opportunity to be able to offer these young people interested in an international career what I have received in terms of experience from Europe, in the hope that they will be able to work with us in Brussels in the future or be engaged in our projects in Africa. Ours is a complex job and to work with ECES you need a training investment, that's why the traineeship through YfEj is an even more important opportunity".

A fundamental step for an employer is the integration of new hires or trainees within the organization: "... the young people we entered through YfEj - continued Dr. Bargiacchi - were recruited as Junior Project Officers, to reach the level of Project Officer. Among them, it should be stressed, we have already hired one person. At first, they were able to take a French language course, although the target language here in the office, where people with 18 nationalities live together, is English. Then they took internal courses related to 'standard operating procedures', together with a course on European Union rules and the management of EU-funded electoral assistance projects. Some have also taken courses on ISO 9001 standards. Currently, in compliance with local regulations, we are all in mandatory teleworking but we have not stopped training activities and work".

As we know, there are many services provided by the YfEj project for employers: from assistance in the advertising of job offers to advice on the recruitment of an employee from a country other than the one in which the company is based, to the pre-selected candidates, to support for the definition of an integration programme for new recruits, which can be financed by the project in the case of companies or organizations with a maximum of 250 employees. Also, young trainees, such as those employed by ECES, have also received concrete support through benefits such as reimbursement of travel expenses to support the interview, transfer allowance and language training.

"We were not only helped but guided and inspired by YfEj's consultants and we are satisfied with the professional level of collaboration that EURES has provided us with - remarked Dr. Bargiacchi - I thank Dr. Bernadette Greco for 'opening up a world' to us. Finally, I would like to mention what is an indirect but important advantage deriving precisely from the financial benefits that the young participants in the YfEj project can obtain: this is because by law trainees often receive lower compensation than a worker with the same function and these benefits instead help them concretely to face some expenses thus making the offer of internships abroad however interesting and sustainable. Your first EURES job is not only a powerful recruitment tool, but thanks to its internal mechanisms, it increases the appeal of job advertisements, generating a situation of mutual benefit, both for young people and for employers".

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