EU member states lose €153 billion every year by not being able to reconcile a quality transition and easier access to the labor market for 14 million out-of-work, disengaged young Europeans.
By Lori Harnick, Citizenship and Public Affairs, Microsoft
Europe is at risk of being left behind by countries such as India, which is busy reshaping its future with new entrepreneurial creativity and social policy innovation.
Currently, EU member states lose €153 billion every year by not being able to reconcile a quality transition and easier access to the labor 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 solution: creative business-to-business dialogue and public/private solutions.
Labor Integration: The European Social Fund
In this context, the European Commission recently 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 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.
However, the success of the initiative depends largely on a new and forward-looking, employer participatory-approach to skills, starting from the classroom through to job placement.
One example of an existing business initiative in this arena, which is working is YouthSpark, Microsoft's campaign to significantly contribute to the success of this European campaign. As a company-wide global program, YouthSpark 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 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 and 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 European Commissioner for the Digital Agenda Neelie Kroes has called for, 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 with a long-standing contribution to youth opportunity.
Already at the launch of the Grand Coalition on Digital Jobs, Microsoft together with other stakeholders such as the European Schoolnet and the Council of European Professional Informatics Societies, extended existing commitments to empower young Europeans for the flux of digital jobs across industries like gaming, e-health or cloud computing, by scaling on-the-job training for career starters through our apprenticeships and internships.
3. Through making young people realize the shift in demand for skills
The importance of making this shift in market demand evident to youth across educational tracks and professional development courses is crucial: from changing market trends from manufacturing to knowledge services to 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, CSR Europe will kick of the European Business Campaign on Skills for Jobs 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 or get information on the launch event. We hope that you will join the Campaign to explore these challenges and our quest to be the spark of change for European Youth!
About the Author:
Lori Harnick is the General Manager of Microsoft Citizenship and Public Affairs. She 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 policy issues. Her work includes leading Microsoft YouthSpark, a company-wide initiative designed to create opportunities for hundreds of millions of youth around the world.
Through partnerships with governments, nonprofits and businesses, Microsoft aims to empower youth to imagine and realize their full potential by connecting them with greater education, employment, and entrepreneurship opportunities.