The own-initiative opinion aims to clarify how post-secondary vocational education and training (VET) can have an added value in terms of labour market, learning outcomes, opening new educational pathways and social mobility in the EU. Forecasts of future skills needs in the EU show an increasing demand for a labour force with medium and high level qualifications which puts pressure on upgrading current VET systems in Member States. The Committee calls upon the Commission to encourage Member States to achieve the long-term and short-term objectives set out in the Bruges Communiqué and to improve the quality and efficiency of VET so as to enhance its attractiveness and relevance. The social partners at all levels must continue to play an active role in the Copenhagen process and help attain the short-term deliverables.
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The EESC considers that this issue needs to be analysed very thoroughly and placed within an EU framework taking into consideration the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality. Special emphasis must be placed on empowering, informing and educating children, families and teachers. The EESC calls on advertisers and sponsors to adopt and apply the highest levels of protection of children's rights.
The EESC welcomes the Youth Employment Package. It recommends, whenever possible, the age limit for access to the scheme be increased to 30, to cover young people who leave university later or those who are still in a transition phase from education to employment and are still at risk of losing contact with the labour market. There is also need to improve the conditions for offering traineeships and ensure their quality.
The opinion deals with the prevention of "radicalisation" of young people. For the purpose of this opinion, radicalisation is understood as a process through which individuals or groups become extremists eventually using, promoting or advocating violence for their aims. The opinion highlights activities undertaken by civil society and calls for continuing to work on a coherent EU-concept, including sustainable and effective European support, funding and coordination.
In this opinion, the Committee endorses, without comments, the Commission's proposal on the resources for the specific allocation for the Youth Employment Initiative.
The objective of the proposal is to adapt the amounts of resources available for economic, social and territorial cohesion set out in Article 91(1) of Regulation (EU) No 1303/20131, the amount of resources for the specific allocation for the Youth Employment Initiative ('YEI') set out in Article 92(5) of that Regulation and the annual breakdown of commitment appropriations reflected in Annex VI of that Regulation to reflect the increase of the resources of the YEI, in line with the adopted budget for 2019. More specifically, commitment appropriations for the specific allocation for the YEI should be increased by an amount of EUR 116,7 million in current prices, bringing the overall amount for 2019 up to EUR 350 million.
The "Agenda for new skills and jobs" is one of the seven flagship initiatives under the Europe 2020 Strategy. It proposes actions within four key priorities in order to reach an employment rate of 75% by 2020. In its opinion the EESC broadly welcomes the European Commission initiative but puts forward a number of comments and recommendations. For instance, the Committee finds that the proposed initiative fails to encapsulate the urgent need to create good-quality jobs. It does not constitute a sufficient stimulus to Member States to set more ambitious national goals backed by the necessary investment and structural reforms.
In its opinion, the EESC welcomes the commitment to the renewed European Solidarity Corps (ESC) with an increased budget and target for participation. It also appreciates the merging with the EU Aid Volunteers. The Committee believes that in the future, the EU needs to develop two independent support programmes, one for youth and one for volunteering.
The EESC makes a series of concrete recommendations, such as: 1) the employment strand of the ECS needs to be subject to strict regulation and regular review; 2) there should be no age restriction on the ESC as it should be a support for volunteering; 3) the ESC should be restricted to the not for profit sector; 4)the main civil society platforms in the field (the European Youth Forum and the European Volunteering Centre) should be centrally involved in the regulation and oversight of the ESC.