Ponta Delgada, Açores (P), 21 November 2011
This week the Autonomous Region of the Açores and its regional Directorate on Youth are hosting the Assembly of European Regions’ Peer Review on youth employment, organised in the framework of the twelve-month Promoting Youth Employment (PYE) project. The Açores is the second, out of 4 partner regions (Vojvodina-SRB, Krapina Zagorje-HR, Hampshire-UK) to hold a PYE peer review visit.
The latest data shows that youth unemployment rate in the European Union reaches 21,4%, its worst level since February 2010.“We are convinced that with political will we can do a lot to tackle youth unemployment at the regional level. The Açores count 36 184 young people with a total population of 246 102: we hope that our involvement in the PYE project will help us improve young people’s prospects on the labour market, as well as facilitate social dialogue about the importance of employment policies in the EU context.” said Eng. Bruno Pacheco, Regional Director for Youth of the Açores.
Investing in skills
According to Dr. Rui Bettencourt, Regional Director for Employment, Vocational Training and Consumer Protection of the Açores, improving the level of professional qualifications is the priority for the region: “Investing in vocational education and training is a must if we want to attract private investors and secure quality jobs for youth. The fact that 90% of the unemployed youth in the Açores succeed in finding a job in less than twelve months shows the efficiency of the professional training schemes already implemented in our region”.
In order to boost the job market and provide professional training to all, the Açores set up a range of activities, detailed in the regional Youth Employment Strategy, such as:
• Integrated Plan of Traineeships: paid traineeships for 17-30 year-olds who are unemployed or seeking a first work experience.
• Employment Cradle: subsidies for the unemployed youth replacing employees on maternity leave. The Programme is co-financed by the Regional Employment’s Fund.
• Social Labour Market: increasing the employability of people with disabilities (including youth) through subsidising work contracts and making technical adjustments to the work place.
Irrespective of these activities, the region recognises an urgent need to better anticipate and match skills gained through professional training and higher education, with the labour market needs as well as to reduce the alarming number of early school droop-outs.
In order to help the Açores address these challenges, the team of international experts will be interviewing this week a range of regional stakeholders, representatives from the educational institutions and young people participating in regional employment programmes.
Moreover, in order to come up with very concrete policy recommendations, our experts will go on field visits to the Hospitality and Tourism School, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Ponta Delgada, the Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of the Açores and the Employment Cradle project premises, to mention but a few.
Gathering four European regions and the Assembly of European Regions (AER) as a lead partner, Promoting Youth Employment (PYE) is a one-year project funded by the European Union, aiming at improving regional policies and strategies related to youth employment by the exchange of good practices and tailor-made lists of recommendations. Two more peer review visits will have been organised by the 23rd of May 2012, when the closing conference will be held in Brussels. This event will be the opportunity to present the concrete project outputs: Four Regional Action Plans for regional and local governments.
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