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The EESC believes that the Erasmus for All Programme should be a key instrument for increasing support for education and training in order to enhance citizens' skills, help tackle the high levels of youth unemployment in many Member States, meet the need for qualified labour, and resolve skills mismatches. It is especially important to employ such an instrument at a time of economic crisis and negative repercussions on labour markets.
Traineeships have become an important gateway through which young people enter the labour market. However, although traineeships have become standard in European labour markets, their spread has been accompanied by growing concerns as to learning content and working conditions. To facilitate access to employment, traineeships should offer good quality learning content and adequate working conditions.
The information report will seek to take a holistic approach to situation of young people in the north and south of the region, looking not just at the employment market but at wider trends amongst young people also outside of work, their self-perception, their political and social outlook on the future, their living arrangements, their view of their parents' generation and other older generations, as well as their view of the region and its role in a globalised world.
The EESC recommends that the European Commission and the Member States support further studies and research that would tap the potential of gifted children and young people, aiming to facilitate employment and employability within the framework of the EU and, in a context of economic crisis, enhance specialist knowledge and prevent brain drain. It also recommends that greater consideration be given to each Member State's existing models for and experience in working with highly gifted children, and presents various proposals aimed at improving educational care for children and young people with high abilities.
Youth unemployment is a top policy priority of the EESC. Monitoring youth employment measures closely, the Committee is putting forward recommendations based on current practices in Member States. It also suggests that only a strategy geared towards growth and aimed at strengthening competitiveness and restoring the confidence of investors and households, as well as sustainable investment and an economic recovery plan, can stimulate demand for labour.
The EESC stresses the usefulness of the Youth Opportunities initiative and is ready to get involved in implementing the initiative by cooperating with the social partners and civil society organisations and through joint action with stakeholders to promote it. The EU's austerity policy and the lack of a clear and generally recognised growth policy could jeopardise the success of the Youth Opportunities initiative, therefore it is vital to create an appropriate economic and financial environment. The EESC emphasises the importance of appropriate education, training and careers advice and believes that it is appropriate to support first work experience and on-the-job training. Quality apprenticeships, placements in enterprises and traineeships are an important means for young people to acquire skills and work experience. The first job should guarantee a set of minimum employment standards. The creation of new high-quality jobs must remain a priority.