March 2, 2015 | Monday

New skills to match the new job market in the EU

The European Union is recently turning its attention to the growing numbers of young people in Europe who cannot find work due to the financial crisis across Europe. The EU plans to provide aid to member states in tackling youth unemployment by helping unqualified school-leavers back into education or vocational training.

In addition, the EU is supporting Member States to develop high quality apprenticeship and traineeship programmes as an effective tool for enhancement of youth employment. This approach has mainly focused on vocational education and transition from school to work as well as equipping these young people with the right skills and experience for sustainable employment.

The aim is to particularly combine workplace training and apprenticeships as a method to attain new skills adapted to new jobs. This combined method is anticipated to promote better anticipation of future skills needs, develop better matching between skills and labour market needs, bridge the gap between the worlds of education and work.

The Department of Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion at the European Commission has published a factsheet titled “Addressing youth employment in the EU” with figures of youth participation in the labour market:

• More than 5 million young people aged 15-24 are unemployed in the EU today (representing unemployment rate of 21.9%).

• More than 33% of unemployed people under 25 had been unemployed for more than a year in 2013.

• 7.5 million young Europeans between 15 and 24 are not employed, not in education and not in training (NEETs).

• The young are at much greater risk in terms of precariousness: 42.7% of youth employees were on temporary contracts in 2013 compared to 13.8% of the overall working age population, and 31.9% had part-time jobs, compared to 19.6% of workers overall.

• Young people have been disproportionately hit by the crisis. Over the last four years, the overall employment rates for young people fell three times as much as for adults.

•There is a gap of nearly 50 percentage points between the EU country with the lowest rate of youth unemployment (Germany at 7.8% in July 2014) and with the EU country with the highest rate, Spain (53.8% in July 2014).

•There are significant skills mismatches on Europe’s labour market.

•Despite the crisis, there are over 2 million unfilled vacancies in the EU.

Taking into consideration these alarming facts, The European Alliance for Apprenticeships (EAfA), jointly coordinated by DG Education and Culture and DG Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, aims to bring together public authorities, businesses, social partners, VET providers, youth representatives, and other key actors in order to promote apprenticeship schemes and initiatives across Europe with clearly articulated goals such as: apprenticeship systems reform, promote the benefits of apprenticeships, smart use of funding and resources. However, the success of this initiative will heavily rely on the commitment of its partners, notably through the network of ambassadors and pledges by stakeholders.