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In April 2017 PPMI completed the feasibility of Erasmus+ virtual exchanges commissioned by the European Commission's Directorate General for Education and Culture. As part of the study, PPMI and Berlin-based Youth Policy Labs (YPL) explored the feasibility of Erasmus+ virtual exchanges to complement existing physical exchanges by offering young people access to some of the same benefits. Together we have looked at key aspects from marketing and facilitation to diplomacy and technology. To inform our recommendations, we interviewed dozens of experts from various regions and analysed existing virtual exchange platforms and youth exchange formats. As part of the project, we provided the European Commission with options and recommendations on how to develop, pilot, roll-out, and manage all aspects of the Erasmus+ Virtual Exchange (EVE) initiative, along with estimates of the financial costs and human resources required to do so.

In many countries youth unemployment rates are much higher than unemployment rates for all ages, making the number of jobless young people disturbingly large. In the EU alone, more than 4.5 million young people are unemployed, while long-term youth unemployment is also very high. High youth unemployment co-exists with increased difficulties in filling vacancies, which points to the existence of labour market mismatches due to inadequate skills. Intercultural, international, and global competencies play a crucial role in today’s knowledge society. By developing these competencies young people can adapt to an increasingly competitive labour market. In doing so they are also likely to increase personal fulfilment, social inclusion and active citizenship. Physical exchanges and study abroad programmes are among the best means to foster intercultural dialogue, as well as to prepare young people for the world of increasing interdependence. However, only very small share of young people participate. It has been estimated that only about 7.5% of the total EU student population are mobile.

The feasibility study demonstrated that with the right tools, choices and resources, virtual youth exchanges can become a resounding success. Erasmus+ Virtual Exchanges could create an engaging and safe online community at eve.org, where young people can participate in facilitated discussions that increase their intercultural awareness and extend their intercultural competences through non-formal learning. The extension of international exchanges from the physical to the virtual world has the potential to significantly increase the number of young people who can participate in and benefit from them. For additional information about the study, please contact Egidijus Barcevičius.


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