The necessity of enhancing the role of Public Employment Services, cooperation between the public sector, social partner organisations, local authorities and civil society, as well as involving young people in the development of employment policies, were the most important conclusions from the Conference of Youth Employment. Organised by the Department of Labour of the Republic of Cyprus, in cooperation with the European Commission, the Cyprus Presidency Conference took place on October 22 and 23 at the ‘Filoxenia’ Conference Centre in Lefkosia (Nicosia).
During the Conference, the role of youth employment and entrepreneurship policies as an essential tool for social development and investment was highlighted, while the risks involved in adopting strict one-dimensional fiscal strategies that undermine the social aspect of employment policies were stressed. At the same time, the requirement of developing coordinated communication between EU institutions and Member States emerged, something which is identified as a priority in the European Commission initiatives ‘Youth on the Move’ and ‘Youth Opportunities’. Particular emphasis was given to the need of promoting the basic pillars of the Commission’s ‘Employment Package’, which highlight the potential for new job opportunities in up and coming sectors, such as the green economy, health and social care services as well as new information and communication technologies.
Avoiding the loss of an entire generation
Stressing that the urgent nature and the seriousness of the problems at hand called for drastic and effective decisions to be taken, while highlighting that austerity measures alone have been proven unable to offer effective solutions, Cyprus’ Minister of Labour and Social Insurance, Ms Sotiroula Charalambous said:
“There are no more margins if we want to limit the dangers of losing an entire generation. The access of young people to quality jobs and their long-term stay in the labour market is one of the major challenges of the European Social Model within the scope of crucial effects of the economic crisis, the demographic ageing of the population and the weakening of family care networks in an era of social uncertainties. We should not fear the possibility of a revision of our previous decisions or positions if this is deemed necessary in order to achieve the desirable results. We should focus our attention on the result rather than the process.”
Through the search for new interventions in the field of youth employment, the link between education policies and employment, the operation of apprenticeships and traineeships, the role of vocational training and the development of special measures for the inclusion of vulnerable groups of young people, were identified as constituting best practices of Member States and can provide a stimulus for the re-evaluation of the debate of the value of employment and social protection policies of young people. This can be especially important if these are combined with the new financial instruments of the Union in the framework of the EU Structural Funds for the future programming period 2014-2020.
Representatives of the European Commission, members of the Employment Committee and the Public Employment Services of Member States, as well as other relevant stakeholders from Cyprus and other EU countries participated in the Conference.