Svolvaer, Nordland (N), 21 September 2010.
As a prelude to the plenary meeting of its Committee on Culture, Education and Youth, the Assembly of European Regions (AER) organised a seminar on youth employment in Svolvaer (N).
With a European youth unemployment average of 20,4%, this issue remains on everyone’s radar and keeps rising on the political agenda of all European member states. This AER seminar is particularly timely as it follows the launch, five days ago, of a long awaited initiative on youth unemployment by the European Commission branded “Youth on the move”. Most of the topics tackled during the seminar have also been identified as priorities by the European Commission: mobility, school to work transition, school drop out, education to entrepreneurship, access to credit etc. These issues had been raised as well in 2009 by AER’s Youth Regional Network (YRN) as key problems to be faced. Given that they are the first concerned by unemployment, YRN president Olov Oskarsson, Jämtland (S), together with some YRN members were present today to share their conclusions on the issue with regional politicians and experts.
The seminar was hosted by Nordland (N), a region strongly committed to helping every young person find its place in the labour market. While exploring the various ways of boosting youth employment, participants discussed regional strategies accompanying the leap from school to work by preventing education drop-out, setting up successful apprenticeship policies and bringing young people with disabilities onto the labour market. The second part of the seminar focused on youth entrepreneurship as one employment strategy which needs to be complemented by education, training and access to funding sources. Both sessions were followed by Round Table discussions attended by speakers from diverse organisations such as AER YRN, Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions, NAV EURES (European job mobility portal), Institute for Social Services in Voralberg (A), “Youth Entrepreneurship Nordland” and the leading French Microcredit Association ADIE. The education sector was represented by the Narvik and Bodø Universities, both actively supporting young entrepreneurs.
AER’s YRN president Olov Oskarsson stressed that nowadays “young people are expected to have both professional experience and education, which is a difficult combination to obtain. Employers should be sensitive to the fact that employing a young worker is already an asset, which can significantly contribute to the development of a company, if young workers are provided with adequate training.”
President of AER Committee on Culture, Education and Youth and Lower Austria minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner, said that “we live in times when diplomas are no longer the guarantee of employment. Only young people educated in the fields that meet the market demands stand any chance of getting a job. Therefore politicians should act together to support these educational paths that will meet the demand of the labour market and secure employment of young people.”
In her closing remarks, the chair of the Nordland County, Mariette Korsrud stressed that “the youth employment is an important and serious issue also in Nordland, even though the average rate of youth unemployment in the region is much lower than in Europe. In Nordland 1396 persons under the age of 30 are without jobs. We can’t simply afford not to bring those young people on the labour market. Therefore we are pleased that we could host this seminar here in Svolvaer, which gives us the opportunity to share our experience in the field of youth employment with other European regions as well as to learn from their best practices.”
The meeting was concluded with an update on concrete actions taken by AER in the fields of youth employment and entrepreneurship: training academies in South Eastern Europe, set up of a young entrepreneurship prize, production with seven regions of a best practice guide with recommendations on how to implement a successful education to entrepreneurship policy.
No doubt that further concrete actions will stem from today’s discussions.
The Assembly of European Regions (AER) is the largest independent network of regions in wider Europe. Bringing together more than 270 regions from 33 countries and 16 interregional organisations, AER is the political voice of its members and a forum for interregional co-operation.
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