The conference panel discussions will revolve around the pressing issue of youth mental health in Europe, with a focus on anxiety and depression as significant contributors to the ill health burden among young people aged 15–29. The COVID-19 pandemic and Russian invasion in Ukraine have exacerbated this situation, leading to social isolation, disrupted education, and diminished job opportunities, which have had a profound impact on the mental wellbeing of European youth. On the other hand, digitalisation, green transformation, Artificial Intelligence, to name the few, present an opportunity to accelerate efforts to address these challenges within the framework of the existing EU Youth Strategy (2019–27) and better prepare students to ever-changing, demanding but prospectus labour market, in which lifelong learning is not just requirement but a healthy and fascinating habit.
Two Key Themes:
Understanding the Mental Health Crisis Among European Youth
This overarching theme emphasizes the need to address the growing mental health challenges faced by European youth while acknowledging the multifaceted factors contributing to anxiety and depression. It underscores the importance of proactive strategies, inclusivity, collaboration, and youth-led efforts in building resilience against mental health issues. Additionally, it highlights the significance of setting measurable goals and a long-term vision for improving mental health outcomes among Europe’s young population. We shall:
- Explore the reasons behind the rising prevalence of anxiety and depression among European youth, considering factors like formal education’s irrelevance in the fast-changing civilization, societal pressures, digitalization, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and Russia’s aggression in Ukraine.
- Explore opportunities for collaboration between educational institutions, governments, non-governmental organizations and healthcare providers to build a resilient future for European youth by addressing mental health challenges.
- Explore strategies for ensuring that mental health programs are inclusive and accessible to all segments of the youth population, including those with diverse backgrounds and needs
- Delve into the importance of suicide prevention efforts, such as the Joint Action on Mental Health (ImpleMENTAL), and how they align with addressing more common mental health issues like anxiety and depression. Discuss strategies to strike a balance in addressing both.
- Discuss the role of youth-led initiatives in driving mental health awareness and advocacy. Highlight successful examples and strategies for engaging young people in the mental health discourse.
- Define key indicators for measuring the success of youth mental health initiatives and discuss the long-term outlook for improving mental health outcomes among European youth.
Embedding lifelong learning in the culture of formal education
As mentioned at the conference Digitalisation for Circular Economy and Green Jobs for Youth organised by International Labour Organization in May 2023, “digital technologies can play a pivotal role in shifting to and sustaining the circular economy, through advanced data analytics, supply-chain analysis, and innovative design. Artificial Intelligence (AI) holds the potential to optimize resource utilization, whilst blockchain can make supply chains more transparent and reduce waste”. Further, according to ILO, by 2030, 78 million jobs can be created, but 71 million jobs could also be lost as part of the transition. Therefore, reallocation of workers is important through the right skills and a lifelong learning approach is a must. We shall:
- Discuss the critical role of reskilling and upskilling initiatives in preparing the workforce for long-term success in the circular economy and explore strategies and investments needed for effective skills development.
- Address the potential job creation and displacement dynamics associated with the shift to a circular economy and explore strategies for reallocating workers with the right skills to minimize disruptions.
- Examine synergistic approach to exploring the ways in which digital technologies, such as data analytics and AI, can drive the transition to a circular economy by enhancing resource efficiency and sustainability in green and circular industries, including environmental awareness, teamwork, innovation, and marketing.
- Discuss the importance of digital literacy and digital skills in enabling youth to participate effectively in green and circular job opportunities.
- Examine the development of leadership skills, both strategic and ethical, needed for young professionals to drive sustainability and circular economy initiatives.
These panel discussion topics will allow for a comprehensive exploration of the various facets of digitalization, green jobs, and the circular economy, with a specific focus on youth engagement, skill development, and policy coordination.