About 5.5 million people under the age of 25 are unemployed in the European Union.
The EU and its Member States are responding to this challenge with actions that are designed to boost young people’s mobility, employability and confidence.
A recently published Eurobarometer flash survey on youth mobility found that about 53 % of young Europeans are willing or keen to work in another European country.
At first sight this figure is good news for European mobility because at the moment only 3 % of the EU population lives outside their native country.
However, a lack of money seems to be a significant barrier to youth mobility. Some 33 % of those who would like to experience life abroad said they could not make the move because they did not have the funds.
In fact, the survey reveals that only 1 in 7 young Europeans has been abroad for education or training. And two-thirds who had tasted life outside their own country said that they had to rely on private funding for their trip.
These statistics represent a problem for young Europeans because studying abroad offers a great opportunity to gain new skills and life experiences – factors which are known to improve employability.
As Europe needs more highly-skilled and knowledgeable young people to keep the economy competitive and to compensate for the ageing population, the obstacles to mobility are indeed a problem.
Youth on the Move
The European Commission and the Member States have come together to develop a package of measures designed to help young Europeans get jobs – and to encourage greater mobility.
Youth on the Move has been launched as part of the EU’s Europe 2020 strategy for economic growth. The initiative acts as a toolbox containing various measures to help young people achieve their ambitions.
Young people really do need some extra help right now bearing in mind Europe’s high levels of youth unemployment. The difficulties they have in finding work are linked in no small measure to a lack of qualifications and experience.
That is why Youth on the Move is working to increase young people’s qualifications and job prospects by raising the quality of their education and training opportunities.
Through the initiative, all young people in Europe should be given the chance to learn and get training abroad. Other actions include helping universities to improve the quality of courses they offer. Greater emphasis on providing work placements should also help young people understand and secure employment.
Meanwhile, Youth@Work, is building contacts between young people and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Launched in April 2011, this action aims to encourage smaller businesses to look seriously at the potential of young people as employees. In turn, it should help young people find work with SMEs, which in Europe provide two out of three private sector jobs.
Entrepreneurship and self-employment are also being promoted through Youth on the Move. The initiative also comes with a ‘youth guarantee’, which aims to ensure that all young people are in a job, training or work experience within four months of leaving school.
They made the move!
The Youth on the Move website features a number of inspiring personal stories about young people getting a taste of life, work and study abroad. Estonian Alar Albrecht went to Italy to train as a chef, with support from the EU’s Leonardo da Vinci programme for vocational educational and training. Alar says he learnt so much on his work placement that he will be able to open his own restaurant.
Meanwhile, Marie-Anne Helon from Belgium worked in Slovenia with help from the Discovering European Social Services scheme. She enjoyed comparing and contrasting ways of working, and has taken some good ideas back home which she can share with others.