This Unit faces the on benefits of mobility under a personal and professional point of view, with a specific focus on mobility in home country
The movement of people from one European country to another has been constantly viewed by the EU as an important right. However, where youths are concerned, mobility is now being presented as an essential asset that allows an individual to view life from a different perspective, to enrich oneself with new experiences and to build up one’s own individual characteristics, values and skills. Effectively, mobility practices amongst young people have tended to grow over the past years.
Youth age is viewed as an important period of transition between adolescence and adulthood, where youths learn to make their own choices, take on responsibilities and start to integrate into society. During this stage, mobility is often viewed as an important aspect of youth life towards adulthood and social and professional integration. Youths may decide to move away from their home during or at the end of their studies, at the beginning of their professional life, or whenever they decide to depart from their parental home and set up a life elsewhere in search for better opportunities.
Generally, mobility amongst youths offers numerous advantages, including:
- promoting diversity, intercultural and inter-religious dialogue;
- promoting common values of freedom, tolerance and respect of human rights;
- challenging viewpoints that perpetuate inequality, discrimination;
- enhancing critical thinking and a sense of initiative of young people;
- equipping youth workers with competences and methods for their professional development.
The experience of moving from one country to another for a period of study or work impacts an individual’s personal development as the person experiences a real change of environment, new personal horizons, contact with a different culture, working with people from different backgrounds and speaking a different language. In this manner, the individual’s talents, values and skills are developed due to the need of adapting to changing circumstances.
Through mobility, young people benefit from increasing independence and responsibility as they move to a place away from their family and friends, and experience a real change in their conventional environment. Furthermore, the out-of-the-country experience contributes to the development and awareness of personal value as self-confidence increases through the adaptation in a changing environment.
The daily experiences with people having different ideas, culture and background, help the traveling youth to develop even further their intercultural skills, including their communication skills and their knowledge about other cultures, communities and systems. Therefore, mobility helps the young individual to enrich their own perspectives and to develop a new viewpoint about their own reality and culture. Having lived in another country, immersed in a foreign culture, allows anybody to return back to the country of origin with an enhanced practical understanding of the world that can foster openness, recognition and debate. Hence, mobility challenges the personal viewpoints of the young travelers, particularly on crucial issues such as freedom, tolerance and respect whilst promoting diversity and enhancing critical thinking.
Spending a period of time studying or working in another country offers the individual an ideal opportunity to learn a new language. In this manner, mobility promotes the acquisition of foreign language knowledge and skills as mobile individuals feel the need to communicate better using the language of the host country. It should be noted that in an international world like the one we live in, anybody who has an experience and understanding of working with different cultures and who speaks different languages has a clear professional added value for his/her employer.
Youth mobility, in a time of increasing unemployment, plays an important role for the young generation as through mobility, youths gain a varied learning experience, both educational and professional. Mobility increases the youth’s chances for employment and in this manner they are able to improve their position within the labour market. This is mainly because mobility helps individuals to acquire new skills, experiences and values including openness, tolerance, a sense of initiative and other intercultural and social competences.
Mobility can be affected not only in relation to job opportunities but can also be realised through the implementation of activities such as transactional/international seminars, training courses, contact-making events, study visits, job shadowing activities and others. In all of the mentioned instances, the participating youth would professionally develop skills and competences which in turn contribute to an increase in the quality of work conducted by the youth, making an impact on the activities in which the youth is involved in. Mobile individuals are able to learn and gain new working styles and skills which helps them to develop professionally within their field of study or work. Their newly acquired knowledge will make them unique in the sense that they can develop their knowledge into innovative ideas and concepts for their workplace or within their field of study or research. Furthermore, the willingness to experience something different in a new country highlights the individual’s sense of initiative and flexibility and hence, it can be recognised by future employers as a valuable asset to expand the market reach of the company and forge new international networks.
The benefits of mobility on the home country
People who experience mobility are more adaptable to changing environments and broaden their social networks and intercultural competences. Whenever young people travel back to their home country, they are able to transfer good practices from different fields to improve their home environment. This also helps economy-related opportunities, better intercultural understanding and better opportunities for cooperation and networking across different sectors. For instance, hosting an employee from another country or sending an employee to another company in a different country increases the accessibility between companies and new business opportunities.
Having a stronger tolerance, active citizenship and the feeling of a common European identity also benefit the European Union and the entire international community.