Youth unemployment continues to represent a considerable socioeconomic challenge in many EU Member States. An opinion adopted by the SEDEC commission of the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) on 31 March calls for more cooperation with the public and private sector to help better match employee skills with labour market needs. It also welcomes the initiative to establish a European Solidarity Corps for young people.
The European Commission is stepping up the fight against youth unemployment with new measures announced in November. Paweł Grzybowski (PL/ECR), Mayor of Rypin, has prepared the CoR draft opinion which underlines that the implementation of various initiatives would require stronger local and regional government action as they have the knowledge and expertise about the specific, local or regional characteristics of an area.
"Equipping our youth with more skills through work and volunteering opportunities benefits both the private and public sectors. It enhances the competitiveness and employability of our youth as well as creating a more skilled talent pool for companies to hire from. To ensure that the skills of our youth are effectively matched with the needs of our labour market, we need to cooperate more with the private sector in the funding of such schemes", rapporteur Grzybowski said.
The European Solidarity Corps initiative aims to provide opportunities for young people (aged between 18 and 30) to volunteer or work in projects in their own country or abroad that benefit communities and people around Europe. This allows them to gain experience and acquire valuable skills at the start of their career. More than 26 000 young people have already expressed their interest to participate.
"We fully support the aim to use the European Solidarity Corps as a means to help those in need. Therefore, the needs and demands of local communities should be the main factor in deciding on the eligibility of projects", Mr Grzybowski stated.
Grzybowski's opinion will be adopted at the next CoR plenary session on 11–12 May. Before that, the rapporteur will participate with CoR President Markku Markkula in a stakeholder forum organised by the European Commission on 12 April. The high-level event will feature Commissioners Günther Oettinger and Tibor Navracsics, as well as the President of the European Parliament Antonio Tajani.
The SEDEC – CoR commission for Social Policy, Education, Employment, Research and Culture – also adopted the following opinions in its meeting on 31 March:
Social innovation as a new tool for creating growth and jobs , rapporteur Marcelle Hendrickx (NL/ALDE). Social innovation is seen as an opportunity to tackle current social challenges and to improve Europeans’ quality of life. The opinion defines social innovation as new ideas (products, services and models) that simultaneously meet social needs and create new social relationships and partnerships.
Local and Regional dimension of Bioeconomy and the role of regions and cities , rapporteur Katrin Budde (DE/PES). Bioeconomy, particularly in rural areas of the EU, represents major development potential in terms of growth and jobs. The opinion points out that this potential can only be harnessed if those involved on the ground in the regions cooperate closely and pursue shared objectives.