On the occasion of its 35th anniversary, the Erasmus+ agency invited citizens to reflect on the future of its programme. High school students, students, apprentices, volunteers, teachers and young job seekers have drawn up a list of 35 proposals.
Moving forward instead of dwelling on the past is allambition of the Erasmus+ Citizen Forum. Since October 2021, the French Erasmus+ agency has brought together 70 citizens, beneficiaries or not of the program, to encourage them to reflect on the future of mobility. And more precisely, on “their dreams of mobility”. After several months of consultation, to celebrate the 35th anniversary of Erasmus+, some of them came to present their ambitions for the years to come.
In total, 35 proposals were retained around the right to mobility, the need to inform from middle school and to be better supported in one’s mobility or evento guarantee everyone favorable conditions, both material and financial, to encourage departures.
Erasmus+, a program not just for higher education students
Sarah completed an apprenticeship in the field of human resources. She has always dreamed of going abroad. If this was not possible during her studies for financial reasons, it was only once on the job market that she was able to realize her dream: “I started to work but I always had this need to leave. I found myself looking for a job and it was my Pôle Emploi adviser who told me about the Erasmus+ programme. I didn’t know at all that I was entitled to it“, says the young woman who was able to leave for eight months in Malta in 2020. “I have just found work there in my field, human resources. I started in December!” she rejoices.
Professional opportunities that arise thanks to the Erasmus + program, a priori this is nothing very exceptional… “After each of my transfers, I was offered a job. So each time, it’s a chance but if we don’t know it, we can miss a great opportunity“, points out Rémi, 29, now a baker and pastry chef. As an apprentice, the young man was able to complete four Erasmus stays+ : three three-week mobilities in Frankfurt then an eight-month stay in Cambridge. “England was my dream. I couldn’t have hoped for better. I won’t hide the fact that I would have liked to stay there, but you never know…”
He too has always had a taste for adventure but believed that the Erasmus+ program was only intended for higher education students. This lack of information is also what is most often lacking in the program, plagued by clichés from the film “The Spanish Inn”. “Today, I want to show that this mobility is possible, even when you are an apprentice. I think there are no obstacles to mobility but more fears that must be overcome“, continues Remi.
Among the proposals adopted in this regard: create Erasmus+ spaces in establishments, create a network of Erasmus+ delegates, create a network of Erasmus+ ambassadors and finally, create an online forum to allow exchanges between beneficiaries and non-beneficiaries.
Make mobility a right for all, throughout life
A need for information that must begin very early, in schools. For Camille, 21, currently in CAP skin clothing in Paris, the most important thing would be to recognize the right to mobility. That everyone can go abroad at least once in their life between “kindergarten and her studies. And even after: throughout life”, details the one who carried out two mobility: in Berlin for five weeks in terminal then in Rome, four weeks, once in the superior.
A right to mobility which must be part of the various training courses and be recognized as such. This goes through the “mobility option” accessible to high schoolwhich today only concerns apprentices but which must be extended to general and technological second year students from the start of the 2022 school year, as announced by the Minister of National Education, Jean-Michel Blanquer. Another proposal: to promote the achievements of mobility thanks to the Europass Mobility to recognize its professional, academic and transversal skills in mobility.
Lift the financial, material and self-censorship barriers for candidates for mobility
Overall, forum participants are calling for a better mobility support. As well concerning the financial aspect (set up a mobility assistance simulation system, finance the return home during a long stay, refine the calculation of grants according to the cost of living within cities and not countries), access to housing but also preparation for departure. Proposals thus encourage the development of a sort of “Erasmus+ Backpacker’s Guide”, the increase in language courses, the appointment of Erasmus+ interlocutors to make resources available or the creation of a toll-free number for assistance.
These 35 proposals were presented to the government. In particular to Clément Beaune, Secretary of State for European Affairs and connoisseur of the Erasmus+ program since he himself benefited from mobility in Dublin during his studies. According to him, three main obstacles remain to be removed: financial and material obstacles (access to housing) and self-censorship. “You have to deal with these three problems together. Today, there is still bad information circulating. There are efforts to be made to break self-censorship. It’s more than a question of means. We will have to come up with solutions but it will take time to set everything up“, he warns.
Next May, the proposals will also be brought to European level by the various directors of the Erasmus+ agencies. “We realized that even if there was a great diversity of profiles in this consultation, we all had the same fears and the same expectations“, believes Camille. Same observation for Sarah: “I wanted to give my feelings and it was enriching to see that we were all on the same wavelength. I felt useful, our voice counts.” “Beyond the proposals, during this forum, we also said everything that was going because we have everyone got something positive out of our mobility“, concludes Remi.