Each year on 15 July, we celebrate World Youth Skills Day and the worldwide initiatives that aim to boost youth employability through education and personal development.
It is also an occasion to reflect on and assess the existing gap in youth skills and learning opportunities, which has a direct impact on employability.
What makes youth unemployment a global concern?
All around the globe, youth unemployment has become an increasingly difficult challenge to overcome - socially, economically and culturally. With an ever-rising population, there are simply not enough jobs to go round for the 73 million young people who are currently unemployed. Finding employment is not the only challenge young people face, obtaining a good quality job is equally as important.
Employers' tendency to consider graduates ill-prepared and inexperienced makes young people aged 15 to 24 years old a vulnerable group in the job market. As a result, they are often exposed to lower standard jobs, inequalities, and poor school-to-work transitions. While these facts affect most countries in different ways, the UK has fortunately seen a constant drop in the youth unemployment rate over the last few years.
How to support youth in the labour market?
Engaging youth in development efforts is considered a key way to improve social stability and inclusion and working industries. From youth exchanges to vocational education and training, organisations across the UK continue to boost youth employment in their communities both locally and internationally, thanks to Erasmus+ funding.
Preparing young people for today's modern world of work can begin earlier on in their lives, in schools and colleges alike. St Ronan's College, a co-educational 11-18 voluntary grammar school in Northern Ireland, was supported by Erasmus+ funding to help upskill students on the practical uses of digital technology. These long-term pupil placements are designed to give students invaluable experiences, skills and insights into working life, such as entrepreneurship and judgement.
Organisations across the UK continue to boost youth employment in their communities both locally and internationally, thanks to Erasmus+ funding.
Vocational education and training placements abroad have shown positive results in giving participants a good mix of competences as well as improving their adaptability to new cultures and working environments. “I applied for the Erasmus+ placement because I wanted to expand my soft skills as well as my practical care-giving experience,” said Sandra Idele, after her placement at a care home for the elderly in Portugal with REY Europe.
College students from disadvantaged backgrounds in Devon have been given the chance to gain real life skills during the “Petroc Go” project. The project targets participants from an isolated rural area with limited access to education, training and personal or professional development opportunities.
More than 160 learners from various courses, such as sports, hair and beauty and catering, have benefited from taking part. “All learners went on to undertake or complete an internship, 50% eventually found paid employment, which is well above the national average of 6% for disabled people gaining employment,” said Ellie Silwood, the project manager.
What impacts have Erasmus+ projects made in youth employment?
According to a recent report from The RAY Network, youth exchanges are a great way to support the inclusion of participants who are facing challenges and obstacles. These participants strongly agree that these experiences had improved their analytical thinking, self-awareness and communication skills. Most of them also now feel more confident and motivated in engaging in non-formal and further education.
Discover Dale's story – a teenager who got a job as a youth work trainee and continued his studies by going to university. This decision to continue his education came as a result of his participation in a youth exchange in Italy with the Jack Kane Community Centre. The project used Youthpass, a European recognition tool for non-formal and informal learning in youth work which recognises young people’s achievements. This gave Petroc's participants something they can show to future employers too.
Celebrate the Day with us!
From hosting an event or telling your youth skills story - there are lots of ways you can be a part of the celebrations for World Youth Skills Day. However you get involved, you can join in the conversation online about the Day online using the hashtag #WYSD.