Given these challenges, a much more prominent role has been attributed to VET in the overall growth and jobs agenda. The contribution of VET, particularly work-based learning and apprenticeships, to fight youth unemployment, to ensure better match between training and labour market needs and to ease transitions to employment is now more widely recognised. As an indication of the urgency of reforms in this sector, a considerable number of country specific recommendations adopted within the European Semester are related to VET. The Rethinking Education Communication (2012)9 stressed the need to invest in building world-class VET systems and increase participation in work-based learning. The European Alliance for Apprenticeships, Youth Guarantee as well as the Youth employment initiative – all launched in 2013 – confirmed the crucial role of VET in increasing the employability of young people. Learning in the workplace is also an effective way to re-train and up-skill adults. Ensuring learning opportunities for all, especially disadvantaged groups, remains a major challenge, as the renewed adult learning agenda underlined. The potential of continuing VET, which can respond flexibly to short-term needs and helps improve citizens’ employability and enterprises’ competitiveness, is not yet fully used. The President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker has identified growth and job creation as the first priority objective of the European Commission (2014-2019). Development of skills and competences of the European workforce is key to this objective, including promotion of quality VET and lifelong learning. Candidate Countries also share these aspirations.
With a youth unemployment rate around 50 per cent, Greece presents its young people with a stark choice: Emigrate and join a brain drain to Western Europe and beyond, or stay in their homeland and struggle against long odds to find a livelihood. The country’s recession-battered traditional industries have little to offer, so for many young people, the coveted prize has become a government job, obtained through the sponsorship of a political party.
But some are trying to draw instead on the country’s mercantile roots to build businesses of their own, despite all the impediments.
At least a half-dozen small-business incubators and co-working spaces – buildings in which entrepreneurs can rent space cheaply and benefit from proximity to one another – have sprung up in Athens, nurturing new companies with up to about 20 employees.
A number of philanthropic organizations have sponsored contests and awarded seed money to young Greek entrepreneurs. Among them is the Hellenic Initiative, a non-profit that receives support from Greeks abroad.
The paradox of work is that many people hate their jobs, but they are considerably more miserable doing nothing.
But as manufacturing shifted abroad after World War II, Youngstown steel suffered, and on that gray September afternoon in 1977, Youngstown Sheet and Tube announced the shuttering of its Campbell Works mill. Within five years, the city lost 50,000 jobs and $1.3 billion in manufacturing wages. The effect was so severe that a term was coined to describe the fallout: regional depression. Youngstown was transformed not only by an economic disruption but also by a psychological and cultural breakdown. Depression, spousal abuse, and suicide all became much more prevalent; the caseload of the area’s mental-health center tripled within a decade.
Facts and figures
- Nearly 3000 academics, teachers and field experts took part in about 60 events as part of a 6 million euro project to improve VET in Turkey.
- 3000 workers and 2000 employers participated in a 4.8 million euro project to strengthen SMEs’ in-work training capacity.
Curricula were revised and updated for training programmes in different fields, such as justice, health, agriculture and the maritime sector. All relevant social partners were involved in the review, given their expertise and knowledge of the skills that are needed in the labour market.
Training was organised for the staff imparting vocational education in order to improve their pedagogical competence, and some had the opportunity to take part in study visits to several EU countries, so they could get an insight of good practices in European VET schools.
“Focusing exclusively on growth and assuming that its benefits will automatically trickle down,” the report says, “may undermine growth in the long run.” But, policies that help in “limiting or—ideally—reversing the long-run rise in inequality would not only make societies less unfair, but also richer.” Specific policies discussed include “raising marginal tax rates on the rich … improving tax compliance, eliminating or scaling back tax deductions that tend to benefit higher earners disproportionately, and … reassessing the role of taxes on all forms of property and wealth.”
In his message to the International Labour Conference, Pope Francis said that “the sheer numbers of men and women forced to seek work away from their homelands is a cause for concern. Despite their hopes for a better future, they frequently encounter mistrust and exclusion, to say nothing of experiencing tragedies and disasters.”
All EU countries have presented comprehensive Youth Guarantee Implementation Plans, complying with the deadlines set by the European Council.
The plans identify precisely the measures to be taken to implement the Youth Guarantee. They outline the timeframe for youth employment reforms and measures, the roles of public authorities and other organisations, and how it will be financed.
Please see the country fiches for a detailed assessment of the Youth Guarantee implementation in each country.