Europe Day is coming up and so is the European Youth Event 2014. From 9 to 11 May, thousands of young Europeans will get together in the European Parliament in Strasbourg to speak to European decision-makers about issues that impact their daily lives.
With more than 58 posts on “youth” on this blog (and 19 posts exclusively produced for the event) we could dedicate a whole month to young people. Nevertheless, we picked a couple of posts which we believe best describe the current profile of young citizens – from employment and education to their voting behaviour. Your ideal warm-up for the European Youth Event! And who knows – you might meet tomorrow’s political leaders there? In the past, several young people changed the political game, see our summary on the youngest MEPs in history (to be published in the following days). And if you can’t make it to the event follow the live stream from wherever you are.
As the #EP2014 elections approach, voter turnout amongst the young causes growing concern. What will bring young people to the polls? Not much, say the figures: youth participation trend constantly falls (from 33% in 2004 and 29% in 2009) – are we facing a “lost” generation when it comes to political engagement?
23% of young Europeans are unemployed. In some countries, even more than 50% are affected. Not only citizens are alarmed by the high numbers – policymakers have set several initiatives in motion to tackle the problem. With measures such as the Youth Employment Initiative, the Youth Guarantee and a strategy on quality traineeships the EU tries to lighten the burden of unemployed young people. Particular emphasis is given to those young people not in employment, education or training (NEETs). Moreover, (temporary) mobility has become a solution for many to find a job or to train abroad, as well as for those who want to be their own boss. Youth entrepreneurship is popular, but there is an imbalance between those youngsters who want to become self-employed and those who actually do. What hinders them?
Since the EU is a union of nations, fostering international exchange has always been at the top of the list of educational initiatives. This exchange, formerly known as Erasmus, is now labelled Erasmus+. For a long time Erasmus was only limited to university students, butat the end of 2013 the EC launched a proposal to broaden the program to everyone. In January 2014 Erasmus+ began to substitute a wide number of different programs and bring them together to make the process easier.
Aside from the discussionon harmonising European educational systems and their big differences, viability of the systems hasn’t been discussed nearly as much. From the employers’ side come constant grumbles about not finding the right mix of skills in the job market, blaming the current educational systems in their countries. So, are universities fostering graduate employability? Or are they simply being traditional?
So much food for thought, and if that still isn’t enough, browse through the 46 other posts on issues affecting young people. In doing so, time will fly to the opening of the European Youth Event 2014.