Workshop 15/3: Participants notes

Kristina Persson, Global Challenge: “Introduction of the day and of the participants.”

Kristina Persson started the workshop by introducing Global Challenge, the different programs we have and how this workshop fits within the work at Global Challenge. This project is within the program field of economy and Europe.

Nathalie is chairing the workshop. Kenneth Abrahamsson is a senior advisor at Global Challenge. Edgeryders is a joint project with the Council of Europe. This project tries to find new ways to look for work and find employment for young people.

Nadia: the programme: short talks on common foundation, smaller group discussions. 

Kenneth Abrahamsson, Global Challenge: “The 2020 horizon. The future of youth labour market participation.”

The concept of non-work was to put a concept of something not too clear – part of the opening. Dividing the life into different periods: education, non-work (5-10 years), work, non-work (5-25 years). Talking about young people is also about old people, how the generations can fit together.

Challenges on youth unemployment have people with different contexts: disabilities, drop-outs from schools – mentality, identity, maybe not skills; young people with skills but without jobs or with ‘bad’ jobs. The new context situation in many countries, is not the underclass, is the change in the society.  

Nadia’s text on independence and connection to work. Proletarization of work studies – discussion about what is a good work? Could be the polarization of work – good versus unsecure work. ‘Skitliv’ – insecurity on the labour market. EU-project looking for unemployed young people – non-work, e.g. ESF. ‘Jobbskaparna’ – created jobs to people with disabilities. ‘Key-figures in Europe’ – the difference between the different EU-countries. What are the options for policies? EU – youth guarantee program etc. also in Sweden. Should we then have a citizen salary if you haven’t got a job? Or could you have a kind of model with apprenticeship, learning focus etc., contagious model. Self-employment a second approach. The alternative – could there be other activities in the society to find own solutions, networks etc.? What could you do? What is an alternative? 

Non-work in-houses very different activities and different people. Three conventional ways: train yourself more & get more employable, apprenticeship – controversial, self-employment – problematic that people need to already have a foothold in the labour market. What could be the alternative for young people?

The concept of non-work includes not only unemployment but also non-profit civil society work.       

Comments from ESF: we have come somewhere where local and civil activities want to get into action. Youth should be activated. There is a special need of activation and preparation for education and work. Work with a sensible group of young people – that are outside the frame: non-work or work. 

Needs – young people outside education and work. 

This is the overall paradigm – there is an assumed ‘truth’. Nadia does not buy these conventional ways.

Alberto Cottica, University of Alicante: “New methodology and new thinking.” Meet the citizen expert: societal change seen from trenches

Citizens as experts – citizens are targets, beneficial etc. they are never thought about as designers or people that can change. There is so much expertise out there, how do we organize this? Expertise in new ways. Youth as active! Youth as passive is a false myth. Young people try to fix every people’s problems. To move away from statistical representatives. Looking at the young people that will be the future leaders – the future representatives. The people that are exploring. The vision was to build a think tank with these people – only on internet – accessible: self-selective – all interested can join, experienced based.

The outcome: 

Act 1: the seed: wrote questions that everyone can select the details they find important depending on skills, time etc. Framed the questions in a way that allow inference of effectiveness of education system etc., e.g. ‘where did you learn your most important experiences’. Campaigns: e.g. learning; mission; mission reports. The person is answering the questions that are right for them.

Act 2: grow: to get people to interact. Used mainstream social media, initial contact with social media and then share this on the social media. It did grow. Started on twitter. Was getting a thick ground. 

Act 3: the harvest: how do you do the selection progress? Can gather ethnographic data on a low cost – were coding the data. Method to select quotes – connected to different themes. Encoded in a database. Connectedness.  “The Edgeryders guide to the future”. If removing the animators the connections are longer. Could see who is leading the conversation and who they talk with. To figure out what people are mobilizing the others and within what subjects – what sub communities talk about. To visualize the topics – how deep the discussions are: how many comments they have. 

Result: Built a ‘novel-space’ for discussing and looking up social problems. It’s inclusive, diverse, open, effective – relative results, a lot of attention, a way to push the commission etc. 

The future? Might be building the new knowledge product – between consulting and consultation. If you want to hear what people really want. Giving legitimacy to people buying the consultancies. 

Detecting social change. E.g. invalidating standardized thoughts about education – a diploma is not a guarantee for a good job anymore. Or people that are getting out of the grid. 

Comment Kenneth: Objectification in the Swedish politics – ‘åtgärder’. Need subjectivities. 

The conventional way does not work – who can we change? The goal for the day: to have a common solution – bridge. 

Rules of engagement. It’s possible to kick people out if they don’t want to have them. 

Technology makes large groups work together. Participatory democracy. 

Discussion 1: “Today’s concepts on non-work and youth unemployment.” 

Discussion 2: “The main points raised in the online conversation. Feedback on the Edgeryders research findings starting with the ethnographic part.”

With: Alek, Alberto, Ola, & (Latvia)

What is the Baltic Sea region? What do we have in common? The region does not really exist in people’s minds. 

Poland (Alek): The situation in Poland is quite specific: Poland has experienced a growth, youth unemployment lower than in the south of Europe for example. The big protests were about ACTA, not employment. In public debate is not that significant. Large education boom in the 90s – more quantity than quality. Tipping point. Poland has pretty high regional differences. Brain drain. South-east of Poland one of the poorest region in Europe, while Warsaw is going better.

Latvia: unemployment is not about young people not getting jobs, it’s about uneducated people not getting jobs. It’s more a problem of retirement. People with higher education tend to get some kind of jobs. The main problem is young people that neither study nor work. People with resources and background and people with no resources: polarization, local metropolis. 

Sweden (Ola): 90s education boom. People don’t start university immediately. No bridge between schooling system and work. People don’t feel that they belong in the systems – people born in the 70s had it easier. Schooling system is less relevant now. 

Poland and Germany - IT-people more into societal change, social development innovations. Societal entrepreneurship, alternative currencies, anti-ACTA movement, how to make democracy work better. Why are the Scandinavians not participating? E.g. civil society much stronger in south of Europe. 

A lot of these discussions: the alternative model is maybe not only a separate model, but included as a supplement. 

Credit is important to discuss. Two levels: policy level – the educational system does not work: what to do about it? Individual level – what is a smart thing for me to do? 

How to make radical ideas supportable? How to institutionalize innovation? E.g. by income support. The system limits innovation. 

Can’t generalize from the Edgeryders members? How to scale up to a broader scale? 

Get out of the grid? Build common goods? 

Non-market measures are considered as not the best way, sometimes even hurting the markets. Failure of only thinking in market terms. Capitalist approach. 

What could we do: rise skills? Lowering costs? The common take over the markets. 

Discussion following the group discussions 

How to sustain the meaning when you are unemployed? Identity. The extent to how we look at jobs regarding identity. The state is normally providing you with money, but substitute for what the meaning of work means – form a platform from where you reintegrate meaning – self-unemployment. Graduates without future – education not connected to jobs. How can you create a meaning? Industries stick in – the drug industry make profit of this. Have an idea, competing model is still to adapt into the system to increase the costs. Much of the future will lie in the third sector. Caring sector – the future labour market need hands as well as brain jobs. Hand-jobs would be worth more in the future. It’s worth looking at McKnight (80s) service provision for self-production, risk that there is a mismatch provide the needed thing within the normative framework. 

Discussion about the values of contributions outside the labour market? 

Kenneth: transition jobs might be permanent jobs. “The good work” what do you contribute with? The good working environment, the salary and the contribution to the society. But this is not so much involved in the policy level and the unions don’t want non-profit jobs to take over the employed jobs. 

Alek: Work as a category for a good life. People are having problems with not having a job – apathy etc. a social thing, that you have to work to fit within the system. The educational system - changing now.   

Daniel: construction with the education. In network society people will have different educational experiences.   

What is the value of education? Policy discussions see education as training and university education. Education can be something that provides something personally for the individuals, understanding what’s happening in the world. 

Caroline: education should prepare young people for labour market, but this doesn’t work if the labour market doesn’t exist. With the competencies you can take on problems, manage different jobs and use these on a scale outside the frame. 

Does standardized education lead to employment? In Estonia this is the case. 

Christopher: the value of the university degree lowers when all people have it. 

Kenneth: benefit more or less for education. 

Dougald: To what extent do we deal with a secular crisis: is this a temporal or a permanent crisis? Do we see that everything changes? E.g. China, less GDP per capital but Europeans have an outdated welfare model promoting laziness. What is the natural order of things? Talking about graduating without a future – we are talking about a reality when young people grow up in societies where they have a worse situation than their parents.

Deeper structural change or temporal stage?  Good reason to say that it is not simply about business cycles. It’s how much things have already changed already during the boom – the debt has been hidden.

Nadia: How much does awareness about the situation play in? 

Kenneth: one way is to include work in education – get a work experience. If you take care about your future you will be better off.

Christopher: it’s cultural to think that if you are qualified for a job you will get a job.   

Kenneth: matching problem: maybe the reason for the unemployment is bad matching. 

Christopher: what to choose to get a job? Cultural expectations make difference.

Daniel: technological cycles: now we are in a disoriented period. Apply the network method on all different fields. 

Jolita Lithuania: the students make the choice that they want. The women get their PhD at 35, men very young or in their middle age. 

Problem with labour market: the situation changes. Unfair to put the responsibility on the students choosing wrong subjects. It’s also a structural problem. Government has to take responsibility as well. 

Daniel: if you are successful with adaption you will enter the golden age. Where are we now?

Christopher: the central banks’ unemployment targets are dropped.

Caroline: synergies: we need new synergies, new ideas of how to cooperate from different paradigms. To move out where we don’t know a lot. How can we really think out of the box?

Alberto: things might maybe not take care of itself. 

How do networks come together? Ideas for job creation for young people from a new perspective.

Nardin Crisbi, ESF: “New horizons for ESF from 2014 and onwards.” 

Presenting ESF and what it is. Started in 1957. Structural funds. In 2007 to 2013 600 mn€. Want to fund projects. Norm instructing. Want to work where innovation takes form. ESF have the instruments, and those that apply are composed of governmental institutions and small companies.  1200 projects; 170 working with young people not included in the system. They are trying to apply a bottom-up approach to find their way to an independent living, which is difficult. Combination of bottom-up with more instructive actions to help young people. The young are excluded from the structures they live in. Want to go beyond the thoughts about that you have to go 9 years in schools to be profitable to the society. Want to change the structures because they do not fit with the reality, it is made for one type of person. Believe in help for self-help. Want to make the institutions aware about where they are failing. 

Dougald: we know that the institutions like to define people by what they haven’t got. But there is a potential by looking at the target group. The secondary effect is to reproduce the exclusion. Are there ways where we can help the interfaces to build this with the knowledge that we have? Can we use the fly road model – loose networks connecting to strong institutions such as ESF? 

Nardin: you can’t structure the programs towards a ‘group’ of people. The targeting is into these walls that we try to rebuild. Those who apply for the money are within the structures. 

Alberto: lock-in problems: lobby that does not want to change the situation. Serious large companies are more reliable and the EU wants to support only these kinds of programs. 

Nardin: we want to find informal networks. 

Nadia: the rules are designed so that you have to be under the umbrella of organizations. 

Dougald: we can create a cooperation to achieve what we want and you (ESF) want together?

Nardin: we want to have a mixed ‘target group’. But then the commission has to ok that. We are still going to have a lot of money and want to find smaller projects, but the government decides on it. Youth initiative by the EU. Transnational networks: to focus on mobility. 

Alek: in Poland the funds are more significant. Individual bravery, empowerment etc. hard to do in large scale projects. Have to be brave in order to try new things. 

Nardin: the funds are distributed depending on needs. In Sweden ESF wants to work innovative, because it is a small part of the budget and therefore they want to use the money to change things. Achieved regionally but not nationally. Simplicity projects – how to simplify the funding? 

Kenneth: the co-funding problem. 

Direct intervention or social innovation is the way of changing. It’s about being the world and express your ways to move forward, not necessary to change the system. 

Daniel Vaarik, the Estonian think tank Praxis and the blog Memokraat: “United Estonia-a giant political experiment.” 

Posters – really extreme messages on the ‘best’ street in Tallinn.

Populist movies. Voting school. 

For 6 weeks they said that they were a political movement. But when people asked them if they were a party they said no, we are a theatre, and if they were a theatre they said that they were a political movement. 

The mega show: 7500 people. Many people expected that there will be a new party formed. 

They told the audience that there were clappers etc. there. 

One of the points was that if you don’t do politics, politics do you. 

Inspired some people to think and speak up. One message: world doesn’t change in one day. Real is different.

Threat that you are not reforming it, but become a part of the structure. The main point is therefore to remain outside the political institutional life and to try to impact from the outside. 

The questions are that if they had any impact on campaigning? 

Also to kidnap the concept of patriotism and nationalism in order for the other parties to not go this path.

Very context sensitive thing.

If you lose a job, you lose your identity somehow, and nationalism is easy to fill the whole. How can we fill this whole?

Discussion with everyone

Maybe put up this in Almedalen.

Caroline: take the educational approach to Europe. 

Nadia: how do you effect change? How does change happen? Within our complex system? 

Daniel: there can’t be a new force. It’s interesting that ‘silly’ things get attention because it starts a discussion; partly funny and partly engagement. 

Alek: how do you interface the creative innovations in the system? (‘Death star’)

Nadia: Engaging existing spaces vs. new ones?  Different political participation; clear gap to interpretation of value in terms of work, education, identity and community? 



Maarja’s Summary

" I can imagine myself being involved with the community organization where people would exchange skills. This could also be a virtual community. One idea was to bring together retired people with young unemployed so that the retired could share their life experience and skills with the young. This would help both groups in terms of meaning and could possibly also qualify as lifelong learning. I could see myself as monitoring the meanings and matching the interests. I could also conduct interviews with old people and structure the meetings so that everybody would find a match in interests. It would be good to work together with the welfare systems and unemployment agencies that could possibly provide this as one potential course or a platform for changing experiences and social support.

The other idea would be to bring together several unemployed people with very different background so that we could provide a place for them to negotiate and enhance their world view. "

Aleks summary

"I am very much interested in informal, non-market economies, in particular small scale ones, that:

- at the heart have individual skills, be it cooking, handicraft, craftsmanship, etc. - skills that can be beneficial not just to oneself, but others in the vicinity, skills that can be offered or taught

- today often involve digital networks and platforms as facilitating mechanisms, mainly for getting in content / finding each other and resources

- also can involve collaborative consumption - sharing of goods

- and have an interesting generational aspect, with a lot of these skills being possessed by the older generation, and now being (re)discovered by the young generation (which curiously enough finds it not quant and old, but hip!)

In the essays written for the EdgeRyders site before the meeting it struck me that there are traditions of such activity, be it in the historical Nordic lifestyle, or the experience of communist life, in which people had to “make do” with limited resources. This traditions are interesting to compare across borders and between North and South of the Baltic. These traditions are also symbolically very strong tools to fall back upon in promoting these solutions.

A question that needs to be asked (and I don’t know the answer) is whether we prefer that a circulation of these skills or collaboratively shared goods or of small scale production be shared (for free, as part of alternative currenty systems, like LETS, etc.) or be paid for - creating a small scale economy in which people can obtain some funds. There are probably merits and faults of both approaches.

Some key areas that could be starting points are: gardening, cooking (especially preserves), sewing and making clothes.

There are traditional institutional structures that are currently slightly marginalised but can be re-invigorated - like the cooperation. Warsaw is seeing some movements around food cooperatives, which borrow ideas both from other countries (developed food coop movements in North America), but also from early XXth century Polish history).

I think that this re-discovery and re-branding of old institutions and ways of doing things, as things new (aided - in a subtle way - by digital networks) is a very powerful social mechanism.

a side note: alongside key categories of non-work, NEET, precariat, unemployment - I would add, as a key category defining the life condition of a person that of having a long term, large credit. this happens both to employed and unemployed and is at least in Polish society a major factor affecting a lot of life choices, values, mentality, behaviour (can I risk changing work? do I care about currency exchange rates, etc.)"

Christopher’s summary

"Creating a movement of “good” activity and inviting people of all ages to participate.

The unmonastery is a start but probably too limited in focus i.e. it will affect too few people.

Absurdly but possibly successful: A combination of (pseudo-) religion with nationalism i.e. exploiting nationalism to give meaning to unpaid activities.

This partly to encourage people to undertake these activities, and partly to give meaning to their lives.

I am not convinced any of this would work ….

I also think we need the theoretical writings which can shift the public discourse. A good book is needed written in a way that attracts people cf. “Indignez-Vous” of Hessel


Jolita’s summary

"It was interesting experience to hear about such a project like Edgeryders, to participate in the workshop. A lot of thoughts were generated around the themes of community, participation, youth, work problems.

The most important shperes of further thinking and developing in my opinion should be or might be more attention to entrepreneurial possibilities for yourng people with high education"

Dougald’s summary

I suggest looking at the Kaulio Movement and Restaurent Day, two “social innovations” at grassroots in Finland in past 2 years that have caught people’s imagination on an impressive scale. I’d like to see Edgeryders (or similar networks) “catch fire” and generate the kind of energy I have seen around those projects.How do we areticulate the themes and questions we’ve been talking about in a way that generates that level of response.

Also, I suggest slightly more structures/ planned facilitation of future events like this".

Daniel’s summary

"First of all, thank you for the great session!

I can bring to the table and am interested in the following things that were mentioned at our brainstorm:

  • Any project that would involve finding and promoting the role models of meaningfully spent old age, people who have insights to share. I believe that this has a huge potential of bringing more meaning to the lives of the younger and the elderly themselves. In concrete terms it might involve creating communication formats, programs, events, training, stories etc.

  • Help with unmonastery type of social projecst, also I would see that it is possible to look into technological and production side of such communities (e.g. agriculture comes to town). The resource I have here is a lot of contacts in technology (also in tech companies and quite interesting people at Silicon Valley) and of course the communication knowledge that I have from my professional worklife.



Kenneth’s summary


Identify thre four ways of continuation

a. An informal network

b. Ideas gor application yo social fund.swedish institute etc

c. Use ideas in the book of ideas

d. Possible colaborations for

r policy interventions at national or european level

bridging the gap

between contries


ethnic.religous groups


all in a diversity model fot social innovations

use stoty telling

look for green identities

models for meaning creation and indepth studies of the social impact of non-work

post-summrr meetings.


Alberto’s summary

Concept for a project:

The (Edgeryders?( (Baltic?) Community Regeneration and Resilience Academy

  • find and list cutting-edge projects that promise to increase the ability of a local community to take charge of its destiny and improve its conditions
  • form alliances with the promoters and leaders of these projects
  • get them to transfer their knowledge to local communities in (Sweden? Baltic states?) who have interest in the same topics
  • in return for this, help them with their own projects, turning them into pilots.

Expected impacts:

  • an international network of local communities that have significant expertise in deploying innovative fixes to societal problems (examples: local currencies to ameliorate negative global economic shocks; urban gardening or permaculture to increase food security)
  • a vehicle to circulate quickly and effectively such practice-oriented knowledge, and a method to transfer it

(in addition have a look at the sketch sent to

Examples of projects with possible relevance in the Edgeryders community:

  • the economy as an app (Germany)
  • Baumhaus Berlin (Germany)
  • unMonastery – embedding committed, skilled individuals within communities that could benefit from them, by opening a space within that locality as a base for those individuals (UK, Sweden and others).
  • Freelab (Poland). Includes industrial hemp production.
  • Edgeryders Knowledge Integration Program (UK, Poland, Germany, Italy)
  • The unMonastery – monastic life (less religion) as a template for collaboration
  • Impossible Living – monitoring and recuperation of unused buildings (Italy)
  • Social Capital for Social Ventures – turning the extra time of unemployed/underemployed people into capital to start new social businesses (UK, Sweden, Europe in general).
  • Sustainable Slouth – turning urban green spaces into food production loci for the community at large (UK)
  • many others!

Outside ER.

  • [Love Tensta]( (Hoppförmedlingen)
  • D.I.T. Do it together
  • [Lindsberg](
  • [Create Commons](
  • Glokala Folkhögskolan (Local/Global school)

Areas that would be important.

  • Problem definition
  • Mobilization of community. How to build a or the community
  • Communication. How to get the word out
  • Idea/concept development
  • Project management
  • Group dynamics & conflict management.
  • Leadership