Magazine article Techniques

An Interview with Junior Achievement Europe

Magazine article Techniques

An Interview with Junior Achievement Europe

Article excerpt

ACTE: What does your organization, Junior Achievement Europe, do?

DF: Junior Achievement-Young Enterprise (JA-YE) Europe is Europe's largest organization dedicated to inspiring and preparing young people to succeed in a global economy, reaching 3.1 million students in 37 countries in 2011. Our focus is on fostering entrepreneurship, skills for employability and financial literacy. JA-YE Europe is the European headquarters for JA Worldwide. On a global level the organization is impacting 10 million students per annum. We work with children in primary school all the way through to early college or university because we think that this is where the seeds of success and achievement are sown; this is where young people need encouragement and support to test out their own ideas and apply their own skills and talent. The aim of JA-YE activities is to narrow the gap between young people and the world of business, engaging vast numbers of business people directly in the classroom alongside thousands of teachers and millions of students. JA-YE strives to increase the number of confident, enterprising young people entering the workforce, and to increase the number of entrepreneurs.

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ACTE: Tell us about the Social Innovation Camp that you put on last year.

DF: Social Innovation Camp is a 24-hour intensive experience that engages students in vocational schools across Europe in idea generation and collaboration techniques. One hundred students from 14 European countries are proceeding to the European final to present innovative, viable solutions to the challenge put to them by the business community. The project is supported by the European Commission, Leonardo da Vinci Thematic Network, and aims to reach 7,800 vocational school students across Europe within three years.

The Social Innovation Camp is an intense experience for the students since they have to propose a solution within 24 hours. Students are mixed up in international teams and they have to adapt to each other quickly and find out how lo work together most efficiently in a foreign language. They had to use their knowledge and understanding of the issues that they see around them every day, applying "entrepreneurial" and team-working skills to find innovative answers. A team of volunteer advisers from General Electric and Hewlett Packard were on hand to act as expert volunteer advisers for the students. They took the time to share their professional experience and expertise to guide the students as they made key decisions about how to solve the challenge, and encouraged them to be creative in their thinking.

ACTE: How are the students selected to participate?

DF: All the 100 students present in this camp were winners at their national camps, and as winners they were given the opportunity to participate in the European finals. They come from vocational schools across Europe. Four hundred vocational schools are involved in the project across the 14 countries we work with. The schools are selected locally by the JA organization in the country, and they participate in local and national innovation camps. Once they've passed the national competitions, the winners come to the European competition.

ACTE: What are some of the innovative projects that they came up with?

DF: The task was not easy this time. Students were challenged to come up with innovative projects resulting in a reduction of youth unemployment by 50 percent. …

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