Talented youngsters from across Europe gather in Brussels to highlight the growing need of planting a better future in digital technology
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Talented youngsters from across Europe gather in Brussels to highlight the growing need of planting a better future in digital technology

Students from Huawei’s international student training programme, Seeds for the Future, at the European Parliament in Brussels.

More than 70 undergraduates, backed by ICT solutions provider, Huawei, were in Brussels earlier this week to present their plans for greater investment  in digital technology, entitled ‘Manifesto for the Digital Europe of Tomorrow’. The students called on European MEPs to help improve digital technologies to pave the way so that the future looks brighter for the youth of today. It was presented to Vice-President of the European Parliament, Anneli Jäätteenmäki, and MEPs, Ilhan Kyuchyuk and Ramona Manescu.

The manifesto called on EU leaders to improve access to ICT and digital sites, to build a greater digital infrastructure, create a safe online environment and step up data protection, and to enhance international exchanges among companies, organisations and the public sector.

The students were selected from many European countries by the Chinese company Huawei, one of the fastest growing companies in the technology sector and one of the largest makers of smartphones in the world.

Huawei’s initiative ‘Seeds for the Future’, has already financially backed the students to travel to China this year to visit their headquarters in Shenzhen. The aim is to fund a trip for thousands more undergraduates mostly from technology and engineering related fields.

Student Lars Suanet (centre, left) presents Anneli Jäätteenmäki, Vice-President of the European Parliament, with the “Manifesto for the Digital Europe of Tomorrow” compiled by students from Huawei’s international training programme, Seeds for the Future. They are flanked by, right, Huawei Senior Vice-President Chen Lifang and, left, Tony Graziano, Vice-President of Huawei’s European Public Affairs and Communications Office.

Holy Ranaivozanany, CSR spokesperson for Huawei said that the company aims to increase the employability for talented youngsters by providing students with the opportunity to travel over to China for a ‘life time’s experience’, be trained on the latest technologies and witness first-hand innovation in a global environment.

Chen Lifang, Huawei’s Corporate Senior Vice-President and Director of the Board, who accompanied the students to Brussels for the handing over of the manifesto, said: ‘As a global leader, we will continue to use our expertise and strengths to help develop the youth in Europe.’ She pledged that Huawei intended to create more jobs and opportunities in the future.

Since the launch of Huawei’s European initiative in 2011, more than 700 young people from 27 EU countries have been involved thus far and 77 countries have benefitted world-wide. Huawei already employs a strong workforce at its bases in Belgium, Germany and many other European countries.

Ms Chen added: ‘This time last year, we promised that over the next five years, Huawei would send 2,000 European students to China to receive training and have hands-on practice at our headquarters. Today, I’d like to assure you that our commitment will not change.’

Elen Le Bas, a student at University College Dublin, who travelled to China as part of the ‘Seeds for the Future’ initiative, said: ‘I had never thought of travelling so far from home but getting a taste of Chinese culture had made me eager to return. Huawei empowered us with the knowledge of how to pursue new opportunities in the East and allowed us to foster new relationships for the future.’

In addition to professional opportunities for the students, the trip to China also equipped them with vital cultural and language skills and knowledge all aimed at making them ‘broaden their horizons’ said Huawei officials who added it was all part of a wider firm commitment to the ‘European Pact for Youth’ initiative.

The experience equipped them with greater confidence and vision enabling them to create the manifesto and lobby European officials. Speaking after the presentation, MEPs said they were seriously considering the recommendations in the manifesto. Mr Kyuchyuk, MEP, said: ‘The manifesto presented to us provides a first-hand account of their needs and expectations. As digital technologies put a myriad of new opportunities at our fingertips, we have a responsibility towards the younger generations to ensure that we make the best use of them.’

Kim Clayton
The Brussels Times