In Romania, youth unemployment remains a serious issue — according to the ILO, the country’s youth unemployment rate has stagnated at 24.40 percent since 2011. There is a clear gap between the technology skills Romanian employers require and the knowledge and skills that young people in Romania possess. So in 2013, Biblionet, TechSoup, and Microsoft Romania partnered to deliver career mentorship to young people in response to the issue.
Through the Opening Opportunities pilot program, Microsoft Romania employees met with about 1,300 high school students at 10 local libraries. During these sessions, the employees spoke to students about different career opportunities and helped students develop career plans. After the initial one-on-one meetings, the mentors and their mentees used the project’s web platform to continue their work together.
To celebrate the end of the pilot project, Biblionet, TechSoup, and Microsoft hosted the event Opening Opportunities Live in Bucharest in May. At the event, 85 of the most active students participated in workshops about social media management, mobile application development, and business planning for tech startups.
The pilot program has seen enormous success, so Biblionet and Microsoft are in the process of expanding it to bring career mentorship opportunities to thousands of high school students all over Romania.
“We, the youth of today, really need help finding jobs,” said Criprian Ionut, a student who participated in the pilot program. “My mentor, Nicoleta, helped me understand the available options. Besides colleges programs, we also talked about about hobbies and internships that could improve my chances to become a successful IT developer.”
Biblionet is a five-year program that helps Romanian libraries better serve their communities through training and technology.