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Canada France 1604-2004
Canada France 1604-2004
Canada a space for imagination

Reports From the Youth Mobility and Exchange Round Table Workshops
Paris, February 5, 2004

WORKSHOP 6
Young People Speak Out

Chair: Chantal Bérard, Fédération de la jeunesse canadienne-française
Recorder: David Chaikoff, Exchanges Canada, Canadian Heritage

The discussion provided an opportunity for young people from both France and Canada to share their experiences in the other country and to provide their perspectives on the new Agreement.

The first part of the discussions focussed on the differences between the two countries’ education and training systems. While a number of participants spoke very positively about their discovery of the other country, some had reservations concerning equivalencies between the two countries’ systems of education. Others wondered if a work experience would be recognized in the other country and felt that job shortages in their home country could delay opportunities for employment upon their return.

Participants held a lengthy discussion comparing the approaches of each country’s systems. They noted the advantages and disadvantages of studying and working in Canada and in France. In the end, the participants all agreed that one cannot make generalizations about an internship or study experience being better in one country or the other; each country offers a wide range of opportunities and challenges for young people wishing to increase their skills and knowledge on both work and personal levels.

The second part of the discussions focussed more on the new Agreement. The young people welcomed the Agreement’s overall flexibility (four general internship categories based on age and work and life experience) and they noted that the Agreement makes it possible to gain admission twice under two different categories. Some participants indicated that the Agreement could promote immigration between the two countries.

The issue of arrangements for the young people in the other country generated a number of comments. Some participants asked questions regarding the implementation of the Agreement. How will host country institutions in the home country prepare young people before they leave for the other country? How will host country institutions receive them when they arrive? What role will cooperation agencies and associations play in disseminating information on the new Agreement and generating interest on the part of young people and employers? Will the consulates and embassies abroad and in the host country provide standardized information on the procedures relating to a stay in the other country?



Recommendations

1. Create a single-window Internet site for participants who wish to do an internship or study in the other country in an effort to standardize the information on opportunities and necessary steps;

2. Ease administrative requirements under the Agreement as regards the issuing of visas;

3. Tailor promotion of the Agreement to the age group targeted: the strategy for attracting 18 year-olds may differ from that aimed at 35-year-old professionals;

4. Raise awareness among cooperation agencies and associations so they can play a key role in matching young people with employers;

5. Share contact information among all of the workshop participants in order to build solid, lasting networks between the representatives of both countries.