At its December plenary, the EESC discussed the issues affecting young people in the labour market. The debate rounded off the 2022 European Year of Youth and ushered in the 2023 European Year of Skills. The Committee advocated for a long-term strategy for youth engagement and recommended that European Years go beyond mere promotional activities and produce clear plans.

In the post-COVID-19 world, there is a new emphasis on the changing needs of the labour market, with all the opportunities and risks they entail, stressed EESC president Christa Schweng who opened the debate. "As part of the European Year of Skills, the EESC will continue focusing on the needs of our young people and the challenges that they are facing in our fast-changing world.".

Nicolas Schmit, European Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights, explained his vision for Europe: "Better prospects for young people, which includes taking care of their security and responding to their aspirations for meaningful jobs and a strong and inclusive social life."

In a resolution adopted at the same plenary, the EESC also called on the EU institutions and national governments to strengthen youth engagement in decision-making and implement its proposed EU youth test. Katrĩna Leitāne, president of the EESC coordination group for the European Year of Youth, said that it is important to guarantee "a tangible and long-lasting legacy for the European Year of Youth and ensure that young people have a say in decisions affecting their future."

The Committee is looking ahead to 2023 and has issued an opinion on the European Year of Skills (EYS), expressing concerns over the overcrowded agenda and priorities of the EYS. The rapporteur, Tatjana Babrauskienė, said that "All activities carried out as part of EYS 2023 must be aimed at the best possible progress in all fields of education and training, with social and transversal skills among the 'right skills' to be promoted."

The opinion also encouraged the Commission to ensure that refugees and asylum-seekers can validate their skills and competences in the EU and be offered up- and re-skilling opportunities to ease their way into the labour market. "Special consideration must be given to our Ukrainian friends. We want to foster a strong young Ukrainian generation and not create a new lost generation in Ukraine, as the Russian regime hopes to do", concluded Commissioner Schmit. (gb)