26th Session of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe
Youth education and training: regions invest in twin-track schemes
With five and a half million under-24-year-olds unemployed in the EU alone, many European regions are successfully developing training and employment schemes. On Wednesday 26 March 2014, the Congress’s Chamber of Regions looked at some particularly promising initiatives such as the “Giovani Si” scheme in Italy, training that combines apprenticeships and school-based learning in Austria, the AER’s Eurodyssey programme, and the creation of dedicated youth information points in a number of European cities.
Since 2011, the Italian region of Tuscany has invested €500 million in the “Giovani Si” (“Yes to youth”) scheme which seeks to forge closer links between young people, businesses and the education sector. Using its extensive website, it publishes invitations to tender and calls for projects, and provides funding for occupational, educational and social initiatives for young people. Enzo Brogi (Italy, SOC), member of the Congress and Tuscany’s regional parliament, pointed out that the “Giovani Si” programme had already provided practical help for 100,000 youngsters, including 17,000 in the field of employment or housing, and offered a model that would shortly be trialled in other parts of Italy as well.
Austria, one of the countries least affected by youth employment, has been combining vocational and school-based training for many years now through twin-track or dual training schemes, and provides a “training guarantee” to young people between the ages of 19 and 24 years. These national principles translate into practical initiatives at regional level, explained Reinhart Rohr, president of the Carinthian regional parliament. Young people in this part of Austria can undergo vocational training while at the same time taking the Matura, the upper secondary school-leaving examination. They can also study for the Matura through evening classes.
Towards educational institutions geared to present-day needs
Twin-track training that combines apprenticeships with school-based learning is also one of the best bulwarks against youth employment, observed Beat Rohner, head of the Youth Regional Network of the Assembly of the European Regions, citing Germany, Switzerland and Austria as examples. The AER is calling for regional employment strategies that focus on young people, and has set up a network for this purpose. It is also urging regions to combat school dropout and has developed the Eurodyssey programme to enable youngsters who do not have a university degree to study abroad, an experience that often makes it easier for them to find jobs when they return home.
Csabas Borboly, member of the Committee of the Regions’ EDUC Commission (Education, Youth, Culture and Research) has been calling for educational institutions to be geared to present-day needs, and for better ICT training. He too has observed that there is “less unemployment when high-quality training is available” and would like to see some of the resources dedicated to education and training allocated directly to local and regional authorities to enable them to support youth employment in the areas concerned: “local and regional financing has a significant impact on youth employment,” he said. The Committee of the Regions also advocates twin-track education, as well as language training and lifelong learning.
A number of towns and regions in Europe have set up information points to promote employment and training for local youngsters, often with good results, and took this opportunity to speak about their activities. Rounding off the debate, Luciano Vecchi (Italy, SOC), expressed the view that “local and regional authorities need to create a genuine right for young people to participate in the future of society”, not least on the economic and employment front.