Tackling Youth Unemployment

Arnaud B. Muller

Written by Arnaud B. Muller, AIESEC ICHEC, LCVP TM

When asked to write a piece about youth and employment, my first reaction was: they did not choose the right topic. They had better gone with youth and unemployment, because let’s be honest, this is mostly what we hear nowadays and most definitely something most young individuals will be experiencing at some point in their lives.

This got me thinking about what I could say related to this topic… Then I remembered an event I attended earlier this year: the (Y)our Future event and the Leadership Summit organised by JCI THOE (as for Junior Chambers International, The Hearth of Europe). At the (Y)our Future event, young graduates were provided with straightforward and practical feedbacks on their CV during a face-to-face interview assessment with HR professionals from the public and private sector. In addition, they also got the chance to attend workshops around employment and soft skills acquisition. The event was a great success, and I personally got a lot out of the CV assessment time.

The Leadership Summit, on the other hand, was about expanding the reach of this (Y)our Future initiative to other European countries. In a nutshell, the goal behind the summit was that of raising awareness about youth unemployment amongst youth in Europe. The idea was to bring more than a hundred young leaders together in Brussels for a 4-days summit during which they would learn how to host similar events in other countries so that there could be a European (Y)our Future day taking place in May (9th) in multiple different countries across Europe.

The (Y)our Future initiative was launched as a way of taking action to tackle youth unemployment. This happened in reaction to the fact that unemployment became a severe world-wide issue. Numbers are there to confirm this. In 2012, Hans Dietrich wrote down in his report on Youth Unemployment in Europe that: “over 50 per cent youth unemployment in Greece and Spain, over 30 per cent in Bulgaria, Italy, Portugal and Slovakia and a European average of 22 per cent.” This number has increased in 2013, according to the European Commission: the “Youth unemployment rate is more than twice as high as the adult one – 23.3 % against 9.3 % […]”.That is more than one out of 5 young adult under 25 years that is jobless. These numbers are really shocking, even more so that there are still according to the European Commission: “over 2 million unfilled vacancies in the Europe” and “significant skills mismatches on Europe’s labour market”.

That was the first time I was confronted with this matter. After the summit, I actively started wondering about my future employment or lack thereof. Naively, I thought that a good degree would be my certified entry pass to any job I wanted to land. Yet, this doesn’t seem to be the case any longer. Employers are being more and more selective, asking potential new employees to possess working experience prior to hiring them. But as a young graduate, you do not have such experience and that is where the challenge lies. On one hand, no job without experience. And on the other hand, no experience without a first job. So how do we, as future young graduates, go from there?

This is where I believe initiatives launched by non-profit organization such as JCI or AIESEC are really important and can make a difference. Firstly, by the awareness actions they engage in, and secondly, by the opportunity they offer to young individuals to develop their skills and knowledge. This is our chance to enhance our resume and get a better shot at impressing potential new employers. Thanks to these organizations, young individuals are offered a chance to experiment first-hand what will be awaiting them during their search for a job. In addition, they can improve their skills and capabilities by attending workshops or by taking an active role in a project organized by the organizations. Both JCI and AIESEC provide youth with a global network of other young individuals and professionals within which they can learn how to build their own. In addition, AIESEC offers to students or young graduates the opportunity to go abroad on an internship during which an intern can acquire practical business experience by working in a company.

In light of all this, I truly believe that youth organizations are part of the answer to youth unemployment and could probably have answers to other big issues. They are the voices of the future and providing their kind with the help needed to embrace adulthood and to find a place on the job market.

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