In their report published on Thursday 21 January, think tank ThinkYoung offered some solutions. In the paper, entitled “Skills Mismatch 3: Apprenticeship Supply in the European Union, Youth Engagement and the Labour Market”, the Brussels-based group offered some solutions to the high youth unemployment rates Europe is currently seeing. Following the observation that “countries with low youth unemployment rates are those where Vocational Education and Training (VET) and apprenticeship programmes are more developed”, ThinkYoung studied the perception of VET programs amongst youth, and their role in addressing the key problems of youth unemployment.
Apprenticeships suffer from a poor image, and are often seen as a low status or second-class choice
VET programs, or Vocational Education and Training programs offer “systematic, long-term training alternating periods in the workplace and in an educational institution or training centre”. They are proven to facilitate entry into the labour market for youth, as well as better job matches, and more work being secured upon completion of the program as opposed to higher education pathways.
Preparing the young generation for the workplace by providing adequate career advice and work experience opportunities is crucial
VET vs. higher education
Internationally, 41% of students think that higher education is more prestigious, as “apprenticeships suffer from a poor image, and are often seen as a low status or second-class choice relative to continuing on in more general academic studies” (ThinkYoung). However, one of the main advantages of VET programs lies in the fact that students can earn whilst learning, and the skills it provides are proven to be transferable, with 57% of VET students then ending up in the same sector as their training. It is for this reason that ThinkYoung “calls upon policymakers to act upon the stigma surrounding VET, and to increase the perception that VET is a good career choice for young people”.
Problem-solving approach to youth unemployment
Crucially, what the ThinkYoung report shows is that “regardless of the Vocational or non-Vocational educational choice, the presence of a work based learning component is found to bring about a smoother school to work transition, given that graduates who undertook a work experience during their studies are more likely to be found in employment.” Preparing the young generation for the workplace by providing adequate career advice and work experience opportunities is crucial, so that they can build their skillsets, gain confidence, and enter the competitive field of jobhunting confident in their own abilities.
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