CESI Youth Board convenes in Brussels

On June 25 the CESI Youth Board met in Brussels to discuss some of the most important challenges which youth interest representation faces in the EU. As such, two topics at centre of the debate were (1) the role of interest representation for young people and (2) the future of work and how youth is impacted by the lack of sufficient transitions from education to work opportunities and sufficient recognition of skills, qualifications and certification.

The Youth Board agreed that the Future of Work can only be designed with the participation of young workers. So far, the EU level has been confronted with high youth unemployment, precarious work conditions and less and less access to quality employment for youngsters in the labor market. The CESI Youth Board expressed its concerns that often young people are not equipped with the right skills to enter and remain in the labor market and that they may be largely affected by precarious work.

There was general consensus among the participants that major trends influencing the future of work (globalisation, technological & demographic changes, demographic ageing) are both an opportunity and a challenge for young workers.

Surprisingly, despite remaining high unemployment rates, roughly 40 % of businesses cannot find workers with the right skills (ManPower 2018 talent report). The recent European Parliament study on ‘Shaping the future of work’ highlighted that more and more young people are falling behind on work opportunities because of the lack of proper experience and right skills. CESI Youth Board members, who came from member organisations in Italy, Hungary, Germany, Poland and Luxembourg, agreed that:

• the current European educational systems do not sufficiently teach and cater the skills needed in the job market and that reforms are needed in this field
• a better recognition of work experiences is needed, including through mentorships, apprenticeships, qualifications recognitions following an internship, a Youth Guarantee employment and VETs.

A study by Roland Berger on the future of work and the impacts of digitalisation in all sectors until 2030 predicts that for instance in Belgium 5 % of the jobs will disappear, but that 18% more jobs will be created. Most of the jobs will be transformed. In this context, Sara Rinaudo from the Italian CONFSAL trade union shared experiences of how to ensure upskilling on the job for trade union members through contract clauses and certifications on the job. By doing this, she explained, CONFSAL ensures that their workers receive the recognition of their skills developed on the job which contributes to quality employment and retention in the job.

A representative from the European Commission’s Skills and Qualifications Unit who attended the meeting, Michael Horgan, engaged in a debate on how ‘skills-ready’ European workers under 35 are in relation to the future of work. In the context of the New European Skills Agenda he argued that re-skilling and up-skilling are needed continuously for long-time learning (LLL) and that in these changing times (when a worker is expected to change his/ her job multiple times in a lifetime) such lifelong learning is a mandatory skill. Digital skills and personal/ social skills are also of particular importance, he said, next to entrepreneurial skills. He referred to a recent report of the European Commission which highlighted that most jobs require basic digital skills and that basic digital skills include being able to communicate via email or social media, to create and edit documents digital documents and to search for information, or to protect personal information online.

The societal changes are very rapid and citizens and workers are more and more challenged to adapt quickly. In this context, CESI Youth Representative Matthäus Fandrejewski highlighted that interest representation is more and more difficult because of trade unionism being built on long-term adhesion to a set of values and to an organisation. The CESI Youth Board agreed that the interests of youth workers at European level could be addressed better by:

• establishing youth organisations;
• meeting young people already in schools and universities and talk about trade union work and workers’ rights; and by
• offering adequate training for lifelong learning.

Picture: Members of the CESI Youth Board in Brussels © CESI 2019