It is a fantastic occasion to be able today to address at the same time the EESC Labour Market Observatory members and so many young people from across Europe. And here "Europe" is to be understood in the wide sense. The YFJ members today present come, in fact, not only from the EU but from the 47 countries that constitute the Council of Europe.
Today's conference is about a very important subject. Youth and employment are keys for Europe's future and competitiveness as well as for Europe's sustainability.
The huge challenge we are facing is to see how:
- First, we can help our young citizens onto the labour market.
- Second, on the same time we can avoid that the schemes we set up to this effect are abused.
Because we want – it is also the title of my mandate as EESC President – a sustainable Europe with decent and good quality jobs and salaries. It would be a mistake to get a new workforce with poor working conditions as a result underpaid – or even unpaid.
I hope that today we will find answers (or at least elements of answers) to the following questions:
- What type of jobs do youth have, and to which extent is this quality employment?
- What is the perspective of precarious employment becoming permanent quality employment?
- What effects (for the individual and for the society) does being a so called “NEET” have?
- Is there a need for more (or for less) flexibility on the labour market in order to help young people access the labour market?
- Are the stable contracts of the past still possible or are precarious internship type jobs going to last years ahead?
- What are the employer and employee relations developing into?
- Is self-employment a good solution?
- Is flexicurity (still) the watchword?