Youth on the Move
The Youth on the Move flagship initiative aims at placing young people at the forefront of activities linked to the creation of a robust European economy based on knowledge, research and innovation.
Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 15 September 2010 – Youth on the Move – An initiative to unleash the potential of young people to achieve smart, sustainable and inclusive growth in the European Union [COM(2010) 477 final – Not published in the Official Journal].
High quality education and training, effective labour market integration and increased mobility are essential to unleash the potential of all young people and to achieve the objectives of the Europe 2020 strategy for European Union (EU) growth. However, young people continue to face challenges in these domains. Consequently, through its flagship initiative “Youth on the Move”, the EU aims at responding to these challenges and helping young people succeed in the knowledge economy.
The Youth on the Move initiative presents key new actions, reinforces existing ones and ensures their implementation at the national and EU level by exploiting financial support from relevant EU programmes and the Structural Funds. It focuses on four main strands:
The Europe 2020 strategy set the target of reducing the rate of early school leaving to 10 %. To this end, action that focuses on prevention and targets pupils at risk of dropping-out should be taken as early as possible. In June 2011, the Council adopted a recommendation on reducing early school leaving, to respond to its different causes. The Commission also set up a High Level Expert Group on Literacy, tasked with recommending new avenues for improving reading literacy in the EU.
In its communication on a new impetus for cooperation in vocational education and training (VET), the Commission reiterates the importance of modernising this sector with a view to improving its quality and provision. Recognising the contribution that VET can make to youth employability and to reducing early school leaving, cooperation in this area was given new impetus at the end of 2010 through the adoption of the Bruges Communiqué . The latter defines strategic objectives for the period 2011-2020 and an action plan with concrete measures at national level and aid at European level.
Apprenticeship-type vocational training and high quality traineeships are essential for enabling young people to adjust to the demands of, and thus better integrate into, the labour market. Hence, the Commission will propose a quality framework for traineeships and will support EU countries in improving access to and participation in traineeships.
The recognition and validation of non-formal and informal learning (learning outside the formal education system) can facilitate access to further learning, particularly for young people with fewer opportunities. To this end, the Commission will propose in 2011 a draft Council recommendation to improve the ways in which EU countries recognise skills acquired through such learning activities.
The contribution of higher education is essential to achieving the objectives of the knowledge economy. However, the sector needs to be modernised to allow it to contribute even more effectively and to help reach the Europe 2020 target of increasing the proportion of young people graduating from higher education or equivalent to 40 %. To this end, the Commission presented a communication in September 2011 on a new and reinforced agenda for higher education.
Cooperation and competition between higher education institutions are very much influenced by their performance. Knowing the performance level of an institution can help students in their choice of study as well as facilitate partnerships across borders. Thus, in June 2011 the Commission presented the results of a feasibility study for establishing a global multi-dimensional tool to rank higher education performance and educational outcomes. On the basis of these results, the Commission will continue to develop this tool from the end of 2011.
Europe’s innovation capacity is vital for ensuring its economic competitiveness. This requires the further development of knowledge partnerships and the creation of stronger links between education, research and innovation. With this in mind, in June 2011 the Commission proposed the establishment of a multiannual strategic innovation agenda that sets out priorities for the next seven years for higher education, research, innovation and entrepreneurship.
Through learning mobility, young people can acquire new professional competences and thus improve their future employability. At the same time, learning mobility has enabled education and training systems and institutions to become more accessible, international and efficient. In order to extend opportunities for learning mobility to all young people, the Commission:
- created a “Youth on the Move” website for information on opportunities for leaning and mobility in the EU;
- proposed a Council recommendation to EU countries that addresses the obstacles to learning mobility;
- will develop a Youth on the Move card to facilitate mobile learners’ integration process abroad;
- will develop in 2012 a European skills passport based on Europass, which will facilitate the recognition throughout the EU of competences acquired by European young people outside the formal education system.
There also continue to be obstacles for employment mobility, through which young people could acquire new skills and competences. For this reason the Commission will implement:
- a pilot project called “Your first EURES job” to test new ways to help young people find a job anywhere in the EU;
- a “European Vacancy Monitor” through which vacant jobs, together with the skills needed, can be identified in Europe.
To contribute to the Europe 2020 objective of increasing the general employment rate of 20-64 year-olds to 75 %, it is essential to reduce the high level of youth unemployment. As part of this, young people should be better supported in the transition from education to employment through active labour market or social measures. At the same time, incentive measures should be put in place for employers to employ new entrants. Young people at risk should be targeted in particular, so as to facilitate their return to education and training or to the labour market. In order to support policy development in this field, the Commission has undertaken to carry out systematic monitoring of the situation of young people not in employment, education or training. It has also established dialogue between the European Public Employment Services which met in March 2011 to examine the approaches and measures taken by these services in order to help low-skilled young people.
Self-employment and entrepreneurship should also be considered as valuable options for reducing youth unemployment and tackling social exclusion. Thus, it is essential that educational institutions, with the support of the public and private sectors, promote entrepreneurial mindsets and attitudes. Young people should be given more opportunities and support for creating an enterprise or for starting their own business. In this respect, the Commission encourages greater use of the new European Progress Micro-finance Facility to support potential young entrepreneurs.