On the 18 and 19 of March 2019 the Meet and Match took place in Brussels. The goal of the 2019 Meet & Match was twofold. On the one hand, participants explored successful mentoring methods based on evidence, with impact on the development of people. On the other hand, they learned about the transition towards the new European (post EU2020) strategy and its shaping priorities: how to collaborate on a European level in order to give an answer to European challenges?
The event’s motto was ‘Our joint visits to Brussels are our signature of showing the EU government our shared belief in the impact of mentoring’.

Programme of March 18

The event was opened by ms Szilvia Simon, community manager of the European Center for Evidence-Based Mentoring. She welcomed the audience at the second edition of the Meet & Match, two-yearly events of the Center to connect to European policy making and priorities.

Mr Fried Kramer, director of Neth-ER gave a second word of welcome to the guests. He explained the importance of liaison offices like Neth-ER, for education and research – and the IGLO network where all EU liaison officers in the field are connected. Together, they enhance the interaction and cooperation between national research and education systems, and the European institutions.
First keynote speaker of the day was dr Oscar Prieto, giving a summary of the European research field of mentoring. He highlighted the growing number of mentoring programmes since 2015. Practitioners are looking for strategy and evidence in how to create strong mentoring relationships and mentoring organisations. Mentoring in Europe is an interdisciplinary field, with little research on efficiency and knowledge on how to empower people through mentoring.

Second keynote speaker prof Geert Jan Stams presented the results of the latest meta-analysis in mentoring. As shown, mentoring increases the resilience of youth. The quality of the relationship is really important. Helping professionals as mentors contribute to a higher effect, especially if mentees are multi-problem youth. Mentoring is and remains a preventive intervention. He highlighted the aspect of targeted skills-based approach (higher effect) vs not-targeted friendship approach (low effects).

Third keynote speaker ms Gloria Amoruso gave a summary of the mentoring field of practitioners in Europe. Ms Amoruso is director of the Klein Abseits and was leading professional of the Berlin Mentoring Summit 2017. According to her own observations, mentoring programmes are relatively small in size in Europe. They work locally and are usually ‘on their own’. Programmes struggle with long-term strategy and funding and lack regional umbrella organizations that help them to connect to knowledge, tools and more. Mentoring contributes to several EU priorities: less dropouts, higher educational level, less dropout during apprenticeship, starting business, increased well being and a higher cultural / social capital, inclusion of newcomers, improve carrier skills (of mentors). According to Ms. Amoruso, mentoring has the power to unite Europe, especially if we manage to create an infrastructure to make that happen. We need top-down support.

After a strong start of the event focusing on the state-of-the-field of mentoring, we continued the event with European policies. First speaker was mr Stijn Delaure, policy officer of DG EAC. He explained the new pillars of the European innovation and research policy. Society consultations lead to new strategic plans in policy making. The EU sets the goal to prepare scientists leaving academia for the non-academic world; there is a mentoring scheme set up for this reason. European Researchers Nights allow scientists to showcase their work. Triple I of the policy making refers to international, intersectoral and interdisciplinary research – which is very much relevant for mentoring researchers. In May there are further consultation and research and innovation days. 24 / 25 September the results of the consultations will be presented.

The next session was led by dr Migchiel van Diggelen, member of the researchers committee of the Center. He initiated a discussion and conversation among the audience. He used the menti measurement online tool and asked questions of the people present on quality. There was discussion about youth initiating mentoring, about tailoring your mentor recruitment to your model, about a generic model for mentoring, and about the quality of mentoring from mentor and mentee perspective.

Second guest speaker of the European Commission was mr Carlo Scatolli, of DG EMP. He highlighted the importance of the skills policy of the EU, relevant for education as well as labour market. Developing new skills is an increasing topic and budget within the EU. Erasmus+ will be doubled in budget within the new framework period of 2021 – 2027, and the European Social Fund is an even larger budget than Erasmus+. It is difficult for workers to keep up the societal changes and to adapt. We need an updating of skills. 60 million adults don’t have upper secondary education and very little digital knowledge. There is urgency to change that. We need more work-based learning and organisations need to reorganise themselves. 95 procent of the labour market in Europe consists of smaller companies. His advices: implement mentoring as a labour market instrument!

Last speaker of the day was ms Laura Corrado, head of unit DG HOME. She explained the vision of her department on migration policy of now and the coming years. The perception on migration is highly diverse in Europe, according to people’s ideas there are three times more migrants in Europe than in reality. Politicians appeal to emotions of people to stimulate a negative discourse. The unit on migration promotes rational discourse; the situation on migration is settled at the moment, it is time to invest in integration and to manage migrants in a orderly way. Skills migrants receive a blue card due to labour market needs; it is necessary to invest in legislation. There is a European Integration Network offering mutual assistance programmes, study visits and peer learning on integration strategy such as employers together for integration and training programmes. There is much work directly with cities and regions: the Urban Agenda, for the inclusion of migrants and the Urban Academy for the integration in education ms Corrado explained that there are pilot partnerships and collaboration with Eurocities, the committee of regions to create a network of regions and cities to learn from each other. As she emphasised, the forefront of integration are the cities.
As for the topic of funding, her aim is to make the integration of migrants a part of several different funds such as ESF, Erasmus+, Amif, Horizon etc. At the end of her presentation, ms Corrado mentioned some known best practices in the field of migration and mentoring: DUO for a Job is such a mentoring programme, creating more and more sites in Europe and aiming at the integration of migrants on the labour market.

Last message: ‘Make a cohesive society instead of integrating migrants’.

Programme of March 19

Second day of the Meet & Match event started with a short recap of the previous day.

First speaker was ms Emanuela Bellan, head of unit of the DG Joint Research Centre. Ms Bellan gave a general introduction to the work of JRC, the science and research centre of the European Commission. They involve 2800 researchers from all over Europe, in order to work on policy preparations (30 procent of the work) and policy implementation (70%). Main goal is to have conversations based on science, within the EU governement. Social science is gaining space, just as the role of values in decision making. The centre identifies questions that are relevant for people.

A new activity of the Centre is ‘ Science meets Parliament’ – 26 events, organised by local authorities around different topics, challenges and solutions that are relevant for the region. Goal is interactive engagement between researchers and policy makers. Interesting aspect of the work of JRC is knowledge management: how to mesaure and identify harmonised testing processes. Take knowledge, validate it, make it useful for policy makers. There are several knowledge centres in Europe, each for different topics. They buy data and process it to support policy makers in making informed decisions.

Second session of the day was a parallel session on European collaboration and quality. In two sessions lead by ms Paula Bijvoets (Friesland College) for practitioners and dr Oscar Prieto (University of Girona) for researchers, participants explored best practices and exchanged ideas on research lines, Erasmus+, Horizon2020 collaboration and more.

An open networking session lead by dr Migchiel van Diggelen gave participants the chance to talk to each other and exchange on further possibilities. There was much conversation among people to go into details based on prior inspirational ideas of the two days.

Final session of the Meet & Match was the preparations for the advocacy meeting in the European Parliament. Fiona Solar (Aref France) presented the advocacy experience she gained during the National Mentoring Summit in Washington, US. She emphasised storytelling and a unified public voice for mentoring. When we are in Brussels and talk about mentoring on an EU level, we should have a common goal and collective message. Ms Els Tolk, practitioner and mentoring researcher, gave the audience ideas on how to connect mentoring to a political agenda. The policy note mentoring can support the advocacy activities in the parliament.

In the afternoon, national delegates of France, Spain, Bulgaria, Italy and the Netherlands engaged in conversations with national decision makers and members of the EU parliament.