Career Bus is one of ten finalists for EUSIC 2018. Here, their founders, Dragoș Belduganu and Armina Sirbu tell us more about why their project is so important and about their experience of the European Social Innovation Competition so far.
Name: Dragoș Belduganu and Armina Sirbu
Project: Career Bus
What is the inspiration for your project, and how do you think it will help to empower young people in a changing economy?
In recent years there has been a lot of buzz around the fact that the unemployment rate is higher than it should be among fresh graduates and young people in general. Working with teenagers we often get questions related to career orientation and the future of work, we also often have parents coming up to us asking which university they should tell their teen to pursue, what is best for them? We know that this question pops up in the mind of almost any teenager and we also know that most of them don’t get any answers. We know that in Romania in small cities and in villages the concept of career orientation is stuck in the past when we used to follow the careers of our close family members. But most of those jobs will get automated or cease to exist. We plan to broaden rural Romanian’s perspective, showing teenagers that there is a big world out there with lots of opportunities and that they can choose the ones that fit them best.
What have you enjoyed most about your experience with the European Social Innovation Competition and how will you apply that learning to your project moving forward?
During the EUSIC Academy, talking with the participants, we concluded that other countries face the same challenges as Romania: rural depopulation due to the lack of local opportunities, small towns with a big age gap because young people migrate to bigger towns, young people that have no idea what career to follow and what the future holds for them. The Academy also gave us some points on how to scale our idea, as well very helpful talks on impact measurement. Going with a Career Bus from town to town and inspiring young people seems romantic and cool so there is a high chance we would do it just for the fun of it, but we should not forget to measure the impact of our actions and to constantly improve so we can offer a relevant and impactful experience to our participants! A big “aha” moment from our EUSIC journey was learning from our peers about the fact that other fields such as farming, recycling, up-cycling, tourism and freelancing, with the help of technology, can have a big impact, but in the same time stay local and capitalize on the local community.
How do you see social innovation in Europe progressing over the next 10 years and what role do you see for yourself in that?
In the next 10 years we think that technology will play an even bigger role in every aspect of our lives. We think that we will see social innovation ideas increasingly emerge from underprivileged groups themselves. We hope that social innovations become more niche, in order to focus on specific communities rather than trying to save the entire world with one idea. We believe that EUSIC and other programs, will be able to identify the ideas that have the potential to scale and give them the needed help, and in the same time empower the ones that do not have the potential to scale but have the potential for great impact in the geography they are part of. We think our part in the European social innovation sector is to empower young people to tackle their challenges with confidence, get involved in the growth of their community, use their fresh perspective and their youthful energy to mobilize people around their ideas and be open to the world around them.
The three winners of EUSIC 2018 will be announced on the 8th November.
The European Social Innovation Competition, launched in memory of Diogo Vasconcelos, is a challenge prize run by the European Commission, now in its sixth year. The competition is open to applicants from EU member states and countries associated to Horizon 2020. The competition is delivered by a consortium of partners including Nesta, Kennisland, Ashoka, ENoLL and Scholz & Friends. For competition updates sign up to the newsletter and follow the Twitter account.