JA has been and will always be about young people, about inspiring them and preparing them for the future. As JA has travelled from country to country over the years, each new context has taught us new lessons and driven us to innovate content, method and approach. Reaching more young people in more places, at all ages, has been and will remain our aim. To do that, we have to work hand in hand with educators, our partners from the business community and governments. The JA network in Europe includes 41 national organisations, which together impacted 4.2 million young people this year. 142,000 teachers and 138,000 business mentors participated.
The earlier young people can be exposed to the world of work, innovation and enterprise, the better. Employability and entrepreneurship depend on highly sought-after competences, such as creativity, collaboration, leadership and problem-solving, but these are also among the most challenging to teach and measure, especially in this ever more digital word with short attention spans. Once students get to upper secondary school, it is not a question of a few hours or a week, it takes significant time and effort—both in school and out—to achieve solid long-term results. JA’s Entrepreneurial Skills Pass helps us evaluate students’ progress over a full year, supports the work teachers do as well and gives teenagers a valuable micro-credential to take with them. We want every young person to be able to imagine themselves into the future. Our mission is to ensure their learning today is transformed into pursuing opportunities, building skills and taking smart risks tomorrow.
This Centennial year saw multiple celebrations in many European cities. Looking ahead, our priority will be to keep connecting the great initiatives that are already taking place in different European countries and taking them to the next level. Technology is bringing us new opportunities such as digitally-enabled learning experiences, to students marketing and selling their products online like real-world start-ups, to students working on emerging technologies like Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. The challenge of climate change and sustainability is apparent across the entire spectrum of business ideas that young people are coming up with, as we have witnessed this year at the JA Europe Company of the Year Competition!
We will continue to lead the way inclusively, linking young people, the business community, schools and academics to our platforms, engaging new partners and influencing education policy at European and international level. As the European Union ushers in a new Commission and hundreds of Members of the European Parliament take up their new posts, we will go on beating the drum for more attention to be paid to the changes that must be made in education if we are going to overcome our socio-economic challenges.