As campaigning heats up in the EU referendum, the claims being made by both sides have begun to err on the sensational. Whilst this is understandable in an age when the soundbite is the greatest PR tool available to politicians, it does not mean these statements are always right.
One such instance happened a few weeks ago when Vote Leave campaigner Ian Duncan Smith claimed that the EU favours the “haves rather than the have nots”. His argument was based on the somewhat dubious idea that migration from Eastern Europe is forcing down wages for domestic cleaners, meaning that the British middle classes can pay domestic staff less, and so the working class are left struggling to make a living.
Whilst we could write a whole blog post on the inaccuracies of this statement and how it bears little resemblance to the makeup of contemporary UK society, we realise that the fact that Mr Duncan Smith even thought he could make such a statement highlights the massive lack of understanding which remains amongst the UK population about the true impact and work of the EU.
Therefore what better way to begin to address this than by explaining how the support and funding we receive from the EU impacts the UK careers guidance community…
Our international projects department receives funding from several different EU programmes, most notably the Erasmus+ programme, to work on projects which look to enrich the careers landscape across the UK. In particular we have a proven track record in developing resources and tools to help marginalised groups become more active in the labour market, and so much of our project work feeds into this.
For example one of our most recent projects has looked to share best practices from across Europe on how to better integrate NEET young people into vocational education and training. Similarly, our Info4Migrants resource started out life as a European project and has since become a vital tool for support workers across the UK helping new arrivals to better integrate into UK society.
The support we receive from the EU for our project work allows us to fill gaps within the guidance community which the ever decreasing level of national funding is unable to address alone. In a time of austerity, where vital services for the most in need are being cut, this independent European source of funding adds a much needed safety net, making sure not all support and help disappears.
In addition to our project work, we have been funded by the European Commission to act as the UK Euroguidance centre for almost 25 years. This means that we act as the national point of contact for careers guidance professionals looking to find information or improve their knowledge on issues related to studying and working abroad.
We travel to events all over the country offering both CPD for careers professionals and face to face advice, particularly for young people. As more students look to Europe for cheaper degrees, we have become a trusted source of support for those advisors who might not have the knowledge and experience to meet this changing dynamic within guidance.
We also organise our own events. This includes the Stand Out in the Global Market series, which travels the country promoting study and work opportunities to sixth formers, as well as study visits for European colleagues to learn about the best practices found within the UK.
Crucially it is only because of the funding we receive from the EU that we able to act as a free-to-access, completely impartial service. Given the growing commercialisation of UK guidance, this impartiality is a vital asset that makes sure advisors and young people are getting the right support and information to meet their individual needs.
From our daily dealings with the EU we know that it is not perfect and can sometimes seem like a remote bureaucratic machine. However, at the heart of everything the EU does is a desire to improve the lives of all EU citizens. Indeed, without this European-level support, it would be the ‘have nots’ who suffer the most.
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