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Promoting young people's full participation in education, employment and society
In light of population ageing, the education and occupational integration of young people are major challenges facing all European citizens. The socio-professional integration of young people therefore involves a significant investment in young people's education and health, greater participation of young people in civic life and measures to ensure a smooth transition between education and employment.
Communication from the Commission of 5 September 2007 to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions on Promoting young people's full participation in education, employment and society [COM(2007) 498 final - Not published in the Official Journal]
Developments in general conditions for young people in the European Union (EU) continue to present a mixed picture. The Commission highlights the need to invest more and earlier in order to improve the social integration of young people in Europe.
The policy framework set up by the European Youth Pact in 2005 is not enough to help young people to deal with the difficulties they face. This Communication highlights the need for a greater focus on youth in social inclusion policies and in policies related to the renewed Lisbon Strategy for Growth and Jobs.
The Commission proposes a transversal strategy involving policymakers and the various stakeholders at European, national, regional and local levels. This strategy comprises a series of initiatives encouraging Member States to promote the full participation of young people in society and building bridges between education and employment.
Education for young people and the transition to the labour market
The transition for young people to the labour market relies essentially on the education system, yet nearly one in six young people in the EU are early school-leavers. Considerable deficiencies in pupils' mastery of basic literacy and numeracy skills still seem just as significant, while mismatches between education outcomes and labour market requirements are a further factor in the difficulty of this transition.
To ensure that the education system is regarded as a way of preparing young people for entry into the labour market but also to be able to carry on their education throughout their lives, Member States are called upon to:
- focus on the development of key competences from an early age as part of national lifelong learning strategies;
- modernise higher education through changes to governance, funding and curricula;
- strengthen the links between education and labour market requirements, e.g. by providing good-quality counselling services or by encouraging partnerships between education institutions and the world of work;
- develop a Community tool for transparency of qualifications and competences in Europass and implement the European Qualifications Framework.
Youth and employment
In the EU one in three young people (aged 15-24) remain jobless one year after leaving education. Youth unemployment continues to be too high and is a significant waste of resources. These young people are more than twice as likely to be unemployed as adults aged between 25 and 29. Young women are over-represented in this category.
To help young people make a smooth transition between education and employment, Member States are called upon to:
- develop mobility and the opportunity for young people to look for a job abroad via EURES and its " Your First Job Abroad " initiative;
- establish flexicurity strategies with a view to career security and better employment conditions for young people in the next cycle of the Lisbon Strategy in 2008 and to giving greater attention to youth in the National Reform Programmes;
- define adequate frameworks for internships with a strong link to study curricula. In 2008 the Commission will also propose the adoption of a "European quality charter on internships";
- encourage entrepreneurial mindsets among young people by focusing on entrepreneurship education;
- use EU funds (European Social Fund, European Regional Development Fund, etc.) to support young people's transition to employment and reduce regional disparities in this respect.
Supporting social inclusion
The social inclusion of young people and their occupational integration are complementary. In this context, Member States are called upon to:
- step up the fight against child poverty and promote equal opportunities with respect to education;
- create tailored actions for young people in relation to health issues such as alcohol, drug abuse, tobacco, nutrition, mental health, etc.
Involving young people in civic life
The active involvement of young people in society could be encouraged by:
- their participation in a continuous dialogue with policymakers in initiatives such as the European Youth Summit "Your Europe" held in Rome in March 2007, or greater emphasis on cultural activities fostering active citizenship;
- recognition of voluntary activities such as the European Voluntary Service;
- a strengthened partnership between Europe and young people via the European Youth Forum and the drafting of an EU report on youth every three years in order to monitor and improve understanding of the relevant issues.
The Commission builds on the youth policy framework which has been set up since the White Paper " A new impetus for European youth ".