The insecurity and “precarious conditions” of youth work in Europe: these were the main topic of the European Council, held on 22 – 23 May 2019. Three main outcomes: Council conclusions on Young People and the Future of Work, 29 April 2019, Youth employment (background information) and European Education Area (background information).

The ministers of Education coming from the EU member States started following a draft document written on 16 April by the “Youth” group, that transmitted it to the permanent representation in the Council.

The youth organisations as relevant stakeholders

On the basis of the European Youth Strategy 2019/2027, the paper aims at providing a series of measures to resettle the difficult work situation awaiting the youngsters of nowadays. Young people shall be free to develop their working, social and personal skills and the European Union is asked to provide them with all the available tools to accomplish this goal.

It addresses to the youth sector’s stakeholders: member states, the European Commission and, this time, there’s space also for youth organisations (see p. 10 of the document). What does it recommend? Member states shall adopt concrete measures to promote formal and non formal education, deepen the development of the key competences recognized at European level, further explore ways of cooperation and youth entrepreneurship possibilities (in the framework of the Erasmus+ Programme and European Solidarity Corps too) and, overall, a special attention to steer national politics towards a better inclusion of youngsters into the work market.

The European Commission shall go on with the analysis of tools as the Youthpass and Europass, as well as guide national institutes to help young people exploit the possibilities offered by the EU in order to get into the work market. It will also provide information and results coming from the follow-up of studies based on qualitative and quantitavie researches in the field.

Finally, it is of great importance the fact that the Counil addresses also to youth organisations. They’re asked to sensibilize young people in relation of their rights and responsibilities; keeping their methodologies and their programmes updated, in order to comply with the work market needs; keep on to strive with the inclusion of youngsters with fewer opportunities in their programmes; making contacts with the national work market stakeholders, in regular dialogues that can provide the right guarantees for young people.

The Council recommended the youth workers (speaking for NGOs, youth associations and organisations) to implement always new programmes and encourage the young people to do an European mobility, also in light of the new European programmes such as Erasmus+ and European Solidarity corps (link). These in fact give to youngsters the possibility to do not only a study period aborad, but also to do an internship, a training course, a volunteering.

The issues to tackle

The paper gives an overview of the working situation in Europe. It focuses on the factors that are shaping a change with regards to this context.

  • The demographical issue: the population is ageing and the work market is losing labour that needs to be quickly subsituted, in order to keep up with the needs of an assistance system that is going to become particularly demanding;
  • The progress of technology: the process of digitalization, that the EU is fostering in the first place, is going to bring about a reshaping of the work market needs. It is causing a rapid obsoloescence both of tools and jobs, creating at the same time new possibilities for digital natives – as the European young people are;
  • The mismatch between high qualified workers needed and the number (still to low) of graduated people coming from European universities;
  • The climate change and the challenges that are to be tackled;
  • The ageing population that reconnects with the first point;
  • Finally, the development of a global economy, that’s reshaping the relationships between employers and employees.

The measures to implement

The European Council has proposed the following measures, included in the press release:

  • adaptable and responsive education and training systems;
  • the promotion of lifelong learning;
  • smooth school-to-work and work-to-work transitions;
  • equal access to quality jobs for all young people in the future.

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