JADE @ European Business Summit 2014: Youth Unemployment – a drive to Entrepreneurship


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Written by Florentina Anghel, European Public Affairs Manager at JADE

Florentina Anghel

Florentina Anghel, European Public Affairs Manager at JADE

Youth unemployment is one of the most discussed topics nowadays, all major policy makers having this issue as top priority for the upcoming years strategy. Moreover, students became more and more concerned about their future career and try to act proactively, by getting involved in diverse extra-curricular activities. So, what is to be done regarding this growing matter?

According to the EUROSTAT unemployment statistics, 18.965 million men and women in the Euro area were unemployed in February 2014. However, compared with January 2014, the number of persons unemployed decreased by 35,000. The high numbers are alarming university students who will have to enter in the labour market in the next months. Questions like “What skills do the companies require, how do I show that I am better than another candidate?” are very common among young people. It seems that we don’t have any guarantee on our future; and to have a diploma is not longer enough.

When a recent graduate looks for a job, he is required to have already marketable skills, developed during an internship or another experience outside the university. Unfortunately, not all the universities offer this opportunity to their undergraduates. Thus, there is now a clear skills mismatch between young people’s skills and the needs of the labour market; and Europe’s challenge is not just to improve skills, but to match the people with the right skills to the available jobs.

Studies show that when a young person experiences more than 12 months of unemployment, it has a long-term negative impact on income levels and increases the risk of further unemployment. So what are the solutions young people have? 

As a result to today’s challenges the EU and other policy makers have clearly identified entrepreneurship as a solution to youth unemployment.According to the Entrepreneurship 2020 Action Plan, “young people who benefit from entrepreneurial learning, develop business knowledge and essential skills and attitudes including creativity, initiative, tenacity, teamwork, understanding of risk and a sense of responsibility. This is the entrepreneurial mindset that helps entrepreneurs transform ideas into action and also significantly increases employability”.

As young Europeans, we share the vision of the Commission in fostering entrepreneurship in order to promote entrepreneurship education that allows every young person to go through a “Learning by doing” experience. An example are international youth NGOs, such as JADE – the European Confederation of Junior Enterprises, which represents a network of student-run non-profit SMEs. Junior Enterprises help bridge the gap between education and labour market by allowing students to get first-hand experience in the business world, gather contacts, and develop relevant skills through working on projects for businesses. At the same time, this experience opens up a new set of inspiration for the young students: entrepreneurship as an alternative of employment.

In 2012, the European Commission released a study on the “Effects and impact of entrepreneurship programmes in higher education”. This report looks into the impact of entrepreneurship education and entrepreneurial activities, such as Junior Enterprises, in young people. According to the research, 79 % of Junior Entrepreneurs start work immediately after graduation, while an average of 59 % of students have not received any kind of entrepreneurship education. Around 57% of Junior Entrepreneurs and 55% of the entrepreneurship alumni have a preference for being self-employed, but 42% of students have not even received any kind of entrepreneurship education. Lastly, an even more eloquent fact is that 83% of the entrepreneurship alumni and 86% of Junior Entrepreneurs state that it is very likely they will start their own business in the next ten years, being aware of the positive effects this decision has on the economy of their own country. 

As shown in the study, student which go through the experience of a Junior Enterprise become better prepared for the labour market and develop a positive attitude towards entrepreneurship. As Stephen Covey said “I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions.” 

The youth unemployment challenge is not a problem that can be solved with one single programme, but requires a set of actions that provide short term solutions such as Junior Enterprises and long term actions such as Youth Guarantee, that help young people have access to employment and prepare them to solve 21st century challenges as intrapreneurs and entrepreneurs.

As part of 2014 European Elections its more important than ever that policy makers and Business leaders come together to discuss and collaborate in supporting such youth initiatives. In the EU agenda, an important event is European Business Summit, that will take place in Brussels from 14th to 15th of May. It will reunite around 1,500 high-level participants from the business world, policy makers and NGOs. JADE will be present as a partner of the event, representing the voice of young entrepreneurial students to relevant sessions such as “Education and Business for Innovation” and share its experience in collaborating with companies such as Microsoft and Intel to foster an entrepreneurial mindset.

It’s important for young people to be able to participate in events like the European Business Summit and be part of the discussions that affect Europe’s youth. Who better than our youth to know the main problems they face? They are the voice of the future and part of the solution in creating a better job market.

Then why not hear their voice?

About Jade

JADE – the European Confederation of Junior Enterprises – is an international, non-profit umbrella-organisation of enterprises across Europe established and managed solely by students mainly between 18 and 26 years old . The network is currently composed of 13 Confederations and Consultative Members from Europe, summing up to circa 280 JE’s, around 22000 students. At global level, the network also includes Brasil Jùnior – Brazilian Confederation and JET – Junior Enterprises of Tunisia, with more than 30000 higher education students. The Junior Enterprises aim to foster an entrepreneurial spirit among young people, while raising a generation of proactive and skilled citizens. 


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