We meet again!

We made it! After two years and eleven Zoom meetings, our partnership finally managed to meet again in Paris, December 2021. It very nearly didn’t happen. In the week leading up to our meeting, the new Omicron variant appeared, seemingly determined to scupper our plans once more. There were daily changes to travel regulations and our Cypriot partners were forced to join us online, but armed with lateral flow tests, covid passes, locator forms and PCR tests for our return, eight of us arrived at Claude Anthime Lycee, met by our wonderful hosts, Guillaume and Sylvie (in the red jumpers!).

It was incredible how the bonds we had tentatively formed at our first meeting, in Lancaster in November 2019, were still apparent. The zoom meetings had kept us going, but the face to face energy we generated over our two days together in Paris helped to cement the work we had done and move us forward to the exciting final stage of our project. Actually being able to discuss issues freely, without waiting our turn on the camera, was liberating. Generating new ideas and understanding each other’s contexts and cultures was so much easier (and fun) face to face. It is why partnership meetings are normally considered integral to Erasmus projects, and why we quickly ensured that our next meeting, in Sicily, was pencilled in for March 2022.

The EntreComp Certificate is a careers qualification endorsed by Lancaster University, which prepares young people for the world of work by encouraging them to recognise their entrepreneurial potential. During our meeting we shared the promotional videos our young people have been creating, explaining the 15 entrepreneurial competencies of the EntreComp framework. One tells Subhash’s story, who set up an online digital consultancy firm from his bedroom in lockdown (One SC Media) and now has 28 full time employees in Manchester, London and around the UK. He donates 10% of the company’s turnover to social action projects. We heard from Guiseppe in Sicily, who has decided to invest in a beach café to help regenerate his hometown. We were also charmed by Marius’s description of his family vineyard business in Iasc, which they started from scratch just two years ago with the help of European funding. The videos have been designed to inform and inspire young people to develop into active citizens who add value to society.

We planned our strategies for the pilot of the Certificate in our own schools, and other local schools and institutions. We are aiming to reach hundreds of young people across our partnership. The online digital platform where students will find out about the Certificate, learn about the competencies and upload evidence of their activities, alongside reflections of their entrepreneurial learning is almost complete. We are ready for the final phase of our project. Moving forward, meeting in Sicily, Cyprus (with students) and Romania during 2022 should ensure the Certificate is thoroughly piloted, evaluated and refined. Our ultimate ambition is for the Certificate to be widely recognised by universities and employers as a worthwhile and robust Careers Award.

With sincere thanks to Sylvie and Guilllaume for their excellent hospitality, we look forward to a successful 2022 and our meetings in Sicily, Cyprus and Romania!

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