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.
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.”
Earlier this month, France became the first and so far only EU country to receive an approval for its national scheme. The Commission will make funding available so that France can receive €620 million from the YEI and the European Social Fund (ESF). The money will go towards helping young people who not in employment, education or training (the so-called NEETs) to find a job in those regions where youth unemployment rates over 25%.
But though France secured the EU funds, the Commission has criticised the efficiency of national measures.
“Public services to promote youth employment (called ‘local missions’) are having difficulties proposing appropriate services to job-seekers,” the Commission emphasised in its recommendations on France’s 2014 national reform programme, issued on 2 June.
According to the Commission, the measures taken by the French government to deliver the Youth Guarantee are “insufficient”.
“The actual quality of this support, which includes CV-writing workshops and interview simulations, is unclear at this stage. Moreover, this guarantee only tackles a minor part of the overall youth unemployment, as there are 674,000 young people registered in total,” the Commission said.
The new report outlines the steps taken so far by California, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Missouri, New York, Ohio, and Tennessee. (Arizona and Delaware joined the network last month.) Their efforts, which include early-college high schools, technology-focused schools, and mentoring partnerships with local businesses, are a response to “the growing disconnect between our education system and our economy,” said Anthony P. Carnevale, a research professor and director of Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce.
Businesses need to be more actively involved in providing mentors and internships to help cultivate more qualified workers, said Ms. Banta, who is also chair of the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.
But it is still unclear whether those underprivileged, high-achieving MOOC learners will be able to improve their station in life as a result. “Our findings suggest that our participants perceived MOOCs as being a way to increase their economic mobility,” write the Michigan researchers, who are still working to analyze the interviews they conducted with some learners. “However, there was very limited evidence for employment as an outcome to taking or completing MOOCs.”
As social-democrats, our highest priority is job creation. We believe that policy mistakes made by the EU and some national governments have made the recession – caused by the global banking crisis of 2008 – longer and deeper than it need have been. The EU is finally seeing signs of a slow recovery but much more needs to be done to ensure that it is sustained – and that it is not a jobless recovery.