Training European professionals in 21st century public policy and communication skills
Fondation EURACTIV and its media partner have trained around 1000 people over the years, mostly young media professionals. The foundation’s former Secretary General tries to draw some lessons from this experience, before the think-do tank embarks on new programmes.
Training for life / Life long learning / Training by doing /Train the trainers
These are just a few phrases associated with a vital but often underestimated function of the public policy environment. At EURACTIV there has always been a focus on learning and over the period since 2000 it is estimated that over a thousand European professionals have been trained in one discipline or another.
Partly this has been deliberate and partly a result of changes in information and communications technology. The deliberative aspect stemmed from a belief that few of the initial and even subsequent recruits would already possess the skills needed to thrive in a fast-changing pan-European policy world. It quickly became a commitment that everyone who joined the team should leave better trained than when they arrived.
As the EURACTIV network of offices grew and spread across the continent it became obvious that our franchisees could also benefit from some of the training provided to the core team. Partner meetings of at least 12 countries now held a couple of times a year regularly include updates and training sessions for editorial and other professional skills. Over 150 partners have been trained.
From training internally it again seems obvious with hindsight that clients and other suppliers and partners could also be interested. And so the Yellow Academy was launched a decade ago. This provides training in European public affairs to staff of trade associations, chambers of commerce, NGOs and diplomatic staff who are regular clients. Training is coordinated by EURACTIV but provided by leaders from a selection the top consultancies in Brussels. Since starting some 500 participants have completed these case-study based courses.
Like many public affairs organisations EURACTIV operates a well-run training programme for interns / stagiaires in Brussels as well as in other major capitals. In most cases, these programmes are either subsidised or benefit from tax breaks. Over 100 young starters at EURACTIV have spent at least six months and many 12 months or more in fields as diverse as:
Sales, Marketing and Event management
EU Network and EU projects (Tenders & CfPs)
Editorial including translation
Communication and reporting including video
As the leading pan-European media EURACTIV also sees part of its role being to build the primary market for quality policy journalism. Consequently, there have also been opportunities to train third-party journalists. The EU Journalism Fellowship 2011 – 2013 organised by Fondation EURACTIV with generous support from the Robert Bosch Stiftung and Fondation Hippocrène, provided up to six-weeks intensive training for “up-and- coming” professional journalists from ten countries on how to report EU policy issues from a distance. 36 reporters published an average of 18 articles a week during their training.
As a provider of editorial content on Development Policy to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for over 5 years, EURACTIV journalists learnt much covering these policies in many emerging markets in Africa, Latin America and elsewhere. Like almost all training this was also a two-way process and through participating in annual sessions at the BMGF other journalists also learnt more about reporting development policy as opposed to development news.
Finally and by no means least, EURACTIV the media and Fondation EURACTIV, generally separately but occasionally together have participated in European Public Projects, mainly but not exclusively with the EU institutions. The communication expertise includes working for the dissemination and exploitation of several EU research and innovation projects, including in programmes such as Horizon 2020, FP7 and LIFE. EURACTIV has cooperated with over 50 different partners and has gained and provided substantial training experience and advice as a result.
In summary, the EURACTIV family is and remains a learning resource providing faculty and networks of other trainers across Europe for reporting and analysing the public policy environment.