Effective career levers for youth: putting more Europeans into jobs

Europe is at risk of being left behind by countries such as India, which is reshaping its future with new entrepreneurial creativity and social policy innovation. Currently the EU member states lose €153 billion every year by not being able to reconcile a quality transition and easier access to the labour market for the 14 million out-of-work, disengaged young Europeans.

The issue is closely interlinked with the capacity of European organizations and businesses to bridge the skills gap through innovating in the workplace, attracting and deploying new and developing existing talents. The way how to tackle the issue lies in a more creative business-to-business dialogue and public/private solutions deployed.

In this context the European Commission published a recommendation package for member states ‘to establish strong partnerships with stakeholders, ensure early intervention by employment services and other partners supporting young people, take supportive measures to enable labour integration, make full use of the European Social Fund and other structural funds to that end, assess and continuously improve the Youth Guarantee schemes and implement the schemes rapidly.

Clearly, the Youth Employment Package, which CSR Europe helped to broker, steers us on the road to action which will be furthered by the launch of CSR Europe’s European Business Campaign on Skills for Jobs in April 2013. Success of the initiative depends on a new and forward looking, employer participatory-approach to skills, starting from the classroom through to job placement.

Example of an existing business initiative in this arena is the experience of YouthSpark, with which Microsoft has decided to significantly contribute to the success of this European campaign. As a company-wide global program, it aspires to create opportunities for 300 million youth globally over the next three years. Through a range of programs that empower young people with access to technology, better education and help young people find a job or start their own business, it will scale up the impact of the Campaign on Skills for Jobs through:

1. Sharing some of the models for youth education, employability and entrepreneurship that have been deployed in Europe with our partner ecosystem.

We recognise that we can only offer certain pieces of this complex puzzle hence the need for a scaled & efficient public/private approach. Despite fewer jobs, there are four million unfilled vacancies in Europe and the skills in demand to perform these jobs are not being addressed. We see this as a call to action to provide early-stage career levers for youth that are essential for the school to work transition, assisting in the “Fill the Gap” imperative that Neelie Kroes the European Commissioner for the Digital Agenda, has rightly asserted, and that drive youth to find their way onto the right training or employment path.

2. Through a willingness to build out business-to-business and multi-stakeholder partnerships that have a long-standing contribution to youth opportunity.

Already at the launch of the Grand Coalition on Digital Jobs by the European Commission, Microsoft together with other stakeholders such as the European Schoolnet, the Council of European Professional Informatics Societies, extended existing commitments to empower young Europeans for the flux of digital jobs across industries e.g in gaming, e-health or cloud computing, by scaling on-the-job training for career starters through our high-quality apprenticeships and internship offering.

3. Through making young people realise the shift in demand for skills

We consider the importance to make the shift in the labour market demand evident to youth across educational tracks and professional development courses to understand the changing labour market trends and demands from manufacturing to knowledge services and with the transformative impact of new technologies on the way in which we work and interact.

In order to strengthen the network of companies engaged in equipping youth with the right skills and tools through leveraging the power of cross-sectoral collaboration for more efficiency and towards systemic change for sustainable growth in Europe, CSR Europe will kick of the European Business Campaign on Skills for Jobs together with its members to demonstrate what companies already do and are able to do.  To learn more about the initiative, tune-in to the pre-launch webinar of the European Business Campaign on Skills for Jobs here or get information on the launch event here. We hope that many more businesses and stakeholders will join the Campaign to explore these challenges further join us in this quest to be the spark of change for European Youth!

This article was originally posted on the Enterprise 2020 blog.

About the Author

General Manager, Citizenship & Public Affairs, Microsoft

Lori Forte Harnick is Microsoft's General Manager for Citizenship and Public Affairs. In this role, Lori leads Microsoft's global work on corporate social responsibility and service to communities as well as the company's public relations of all legal and public Read more »