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Brussels, 13 May 2011

Half of young Europeans ready to work abroad

Brussels, 13 May 2011 - According to the latest Eurobarometer survey, 53% of young people in Europe are willing or keen to work in another European country, but lack of cash discourages many of them from taking a first step towards this by spending part of their education abroad. The survey highlights a huge gap between the widespread desire of young people to work abroad and actual workforce mobility: less than 3% of Europe's working population currently lives outside their home country. The survey, conducted in the context of the Commission's 'Youth on the Move' strategy, is published on the eve of the 2011 European Youth Week (15-21 May).

"The survey shows that young people are keen and willing to work abroad. That's good news for Europe; unfortunately they still face too many obstacles. We need to make it easier for them to study, train or work abroad and to raise awareness of the financial support available through EU schemes like Erasmus which can give them a first taste of living outside their home country. Two of the biggest challenges we face today are youth unemployment and low economic growth: a more mobile student and workforce population is part of the solution," said Androulla Vassiliou, the European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth.

Studies show that students who spend part of their studies or training outside their home country boost their employability and are more likely to work abroad later in life. Employers value the skills they gain such as the ability to speak a foreign language, adaptability and interpersonal competences.

The survey shows that only one in seven (14%) young Europeans have been abroad for education or training. Lack of funding prevents many from doing so. Of those who said they had wanted to go abroad, 33% said they couldn't afford it; nearly two-thirds (63%) of those who did had to rely on private funding or savings. "This finding underlines the need to strengthen our mobility programmes, which provide excellent value for money," added Commissioner Vassiliou.


Results of the Eurobarometer survery

The Flash Eurobarometer (No 319 A + B) provides an insight into how mobile young Europeans are for education and work, how they view different education settings and what their main concerns are when seeking employment. For a summary of the main findings, see MEMO/11/292. The results will feed into up-coming policy initiatives on modernising higher education, vocational education and training and youth. Respondents were aged 15-35 (15-30 for the section on participation). The survey covers 27 EU Member States (for the section of youth participation), as well as Norway, Iceland, Croatia and Turkey. 57 000 people were interviewed by telephone between 26 January and 4 February 2011.

European Youth Week 2011

The fifth European Youth Week, from 15-21 May, provides a forum to discuss the opportunities and challenges facing young people today. It will feature events in the 33 countries involved in the Commission's Youth in Action programme (27 EU Member States, Croatia, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland and Turkey).

On 17 May, Commission President José Manuel Barroso and Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou will take part in a debate with young people in the Belgian city of Antwerp (2011 European Youth Capital) on the priorities of the Youth on the Move strategy. The focus will be on the quality and relevance of higher education, the promotion of learning mobility, and how to help young people to develop their employability and entrepreneurship skills.

President Barroso will present awards for the best European Voluntary Service (EVS) projects supported by the EU's Youth in Action programme. The winning projects, selected by an inter-institutional jury, showcase how EVS contributes to the Europe 2020 strategy. The EVS is celebrating its 15th anniversary in 2011, which is also the European Year of Volunteering.

Commissioner Vassiliou and Commissioner Lázló Andor (Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion) will also participate in meetings with youth representatives in Brussels during European Youth Week. In the context of the 2011 EU-China Year of Youth, a number of events will be targeted at encouraging dialogue between young Europeans and Chinese. Up to 120 Chinese youth representatives are expected to attend.

Youth on the Move

The European Commission's Youth on the Move flagship initiative, launched last September (IP/10/1124), sets out measures aimed at improving young people's job prospects by boosting learning mobility and improving the quality and relevance of education and training. EU funds such as Erasmus provide grants for study, training or work experience abroad, as well as projects to improve the quality and relevance of education and training. The Erasmus programme provided grants for more than 210,000 students in 2009/2010 to study or train in another European country; over 35,000 received funding for work-based placements. Later this year the Commission will propose future EU funding for mobility programmes starting in 2014.

For more information

Youth on the Move:

Flash Eurobarometer survey:

Youth policy and programme:

European Youth Week:

European Year of Volunteering 2011:

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