Brussels (B), 27 June 2012
One hundred participants, including members from the Assembly of European Regions (AER), MEPs, and representatives from the European Commission and the United Nations as well as young people themselves met yesterday at the premises of the European Parliament in Brussels to learn “Why are Regions the best candidates to tackle youth unemployment?”
The conference marks the end of AER’s yearlong “Promoting Youth Employment” (PYE) project, run in partnership with four of its member regions: Vojvodina (SRB), the Azores (P), Krapina-Zagorje (HR) and Hampshire (UK). The series of 4 Peer Reviews organised over the last 12 months comprised 200 interviews with local, regional and national stakeholders in view of helping PYE partner regions to produce their Youth Employment Action Plans setting out policy recommendations to improve young people’s prospects in the job market.
In her opening speech, Danuta Hübner, Member of the European Parliament and Chair of the Regional Development Committee, encouraged young people to be proactive both in looking for jobs in upcoming sectors and in jump-starting their own activity, and not to fear being entrepreneurs.
The European Commission’s Director for “Europe 2020: Employment policies”, Jean Louis De Brouwer: “In September the European Commission will start an informal dialogue with the EU Member States to discuss the upcoming 2014-2020 programming period. Regional authorities are encouraged to take part in those discussions, which will include proposals on youth employment.”
To stress the importance of acknowledging and disseminating the project’s conclusions, Pascal Goergen, AER Secretary General, launched an appeal to politicians from AER member regions to draft a Report on youth unemployment in Southern Europe, an area harshly affected by this problem.
Some of the policy recommendations include (excerpts from “A Summary of project conclusions and policy recommendations for European Regions”):
o Better inclusion: One major lesson from the reviews is that policies promoting not only economic growth, but also broad social and economic inclusion, are required. There is a need for a joint approach amongst various regional departments and ministries, including those dealing with labour, education, industry, social welfare, and specifically youth affairs.
o Higher decentralisation: The regions demonstrate a high capacity for teaching and training. However, a lack of regional presence in these policy fields may significantly slow down adaptability to rapidly changing job market needs.
o Essential information: Regional job market information systems must be strong enough to provide policymakers and practitioners with adequate information in order to reduce mismatches between young people’s aspirations, skills and work experience and employers’ needs.
o Nothing for us without our input: It is important to formulate regional policies and strategies that are focused specifically on youth issues and involve young people themselves in dialogue, especially in times when high and prolonged youth unemployment rates lead to social alienation and a culture of low aspirations and feelings of hopelessness.
The Assembly of European Regions (AER – aer.eu) is the largest independent network of regions in wider Europe. Bringing together more than 250 regions from 35 countries and 16 interregional organisations, AER is the political voice of its members and a forum for interregional co-operation.
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