Fighting youth unemployment with mobility
Youth unemployment remains a pressing issue in Europe, having reached over 23 per cent across the EU in 2014. The European Youth Parliament’s think tank gathered in Berlin for a four-day event last week to discuss how youth unemployment can be combated using mobility measures.
By Sofia Gerganova
BERLIN – On April 10 the European Youth Parliament (EYP) hosted a four-day youth unemployment think tank in Berlin. The event gathered nineteen participants from fifteen different countries and various backgrounds who examined different measures that could be introduced in the European Union to help reduce youth unemployment.
The EYP is a non-partisan organisation that aims to promote political involvement on a EU level and raise awareness about European affairs among young people. The main focus of the event spiralled around the improvement of the European mobility programmes that are already in place to help young people get jobs in other European countries.
“We believe that this mobility approach can be a key element to sorting the youth unemployment issue,” says Martin Hoffman, chairman of the EYP.
Andreia Moraru, 22, is a law student from Romania and a participant in the EYP event, who is currently taking part in an Erasmus exchange programme in Utrecht, the Netherlands.
According to Moraru, the key to a solving unemployment among young people in Europe is introducing more work experience-related programmes in schools and universities.
“We need to align the education system with the requirements of the market, because at the moment, we learn things in school that are not helping us become more employable,” she says.
Another member of the think tank, Francisco Santos, 20, is from Portugal, where youth unemployment rates have reached 35 per cent already. Santos says young people should be given a structured programme that helps them get into the labour market.
“I think that there should be some system that allows people to get into the market place,” he says. “This is not taking place at the moment, especially in crisis-hit countries, where, when you take your Bachelor’s, you’re most likely to end up staying at your parents’ house and doing some internship for nothing somewhere.”
- Greece – 59.0%
- Spain – 54.6%
- Croatia – 49.8%
- Portugal – 35%
- United Kingdom – 19.8%
At the moment, the main activity of the EU regarding youth mobility and employment falls under the umbrella of the Europe 2020 Growth and Jobs strategy. The current aim of the strategy is to reach a 75% employment rate of 20-64 year-olds by 2020.
In terms of youth unemployment, there are two schemes designed to fight this problem; the Youth on the Move education and employment package, and, in particular, measures assembled under the Youth Opportunities Initiative. These include mobility programmes such as Erasmus+, Erasmus for young entrepreneurs and Your first EURES job.
“At the moment, the statistics say that only 20 per cent of the young population benefited from using the mobility programmes in the EU, such as Erasmus,” says Anya Suprunenko, 24, former president of the EYP Ukraine.
“There are other programmes that exist and people don’t even know about them, so that’s exactly what we’re trying to now find out – how should the mobility influence the decreasing of unemployment.”
With growing unemployment among young people in the member states, some of which have reached record highs recently, the EYP feels like the EU needs fresh measures to help combat the situation.
The focus of the event is producing a policy paper by the end of it that will be brought to the attention of policymakers in Brussels, in order to raise awareness of the possible solutions to youth unemployment in Europe.
Going one step further, the think tank will set up a follow-up meeting with policymakers in Brussels later this year, where participants will present their ideas to President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, and Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, László Andor. The meeting will be followed-up with a policy paper that will be sent to Barroso and Andor for consideration.
“It [the event] has a very academic prospect on it and I think that it’s really important that we, as a youth, discuss our problems and present them to the solution-makers who can actually do something about it,” says Santos.
On the other hand, Moraru really believes these discussions can have an impact. “I feel like if we’re here discussing things and if we bring attention towards the issue, maybe in five years time the situation can be improved.”
“I’d like to see, at least after I get my first job, that youth unemployment is decreasing and things are improving,” she says.