This article is part of our special report Jobs and Growth.
To reduce youth unemployment, training and education might not be enough, Peter Matjaši?, president of the European Youth Forum, told EURACTIV in an interview. Turning young people into entrepreneurs could be the solution, he said.
“If there are only a very limited number of jobs available, training, and education are solutions only of a temporary nature. The answer is in fostering entrepreneurship,” Matjaši? said, responding to new – and bleak – data underlined by the European Commission yesterday (23 November) in the Annual Growth Survey 2012.
For Matjaši?, entrepreneurship is not only a form of employment but also a way of realising innovative ideas and solutions.
“Entrepreneurship creates jobs, fosters wealth for society as a whole and particularly via social entrepreneurship, including green entrepreneurship, contributes to community development, supports environmental sustainability and produces social capital,” he said.
The number of young people becoming entrepreneurs remains very low in Europe compared to the United States.
According to the EU Youth Report, only 4% of young people aged 15-24 and 9% of those 25-29 in Europe were running their own business in 2009.
“The main reasons is that 15-39 years olds have a preference for employee status rather than being self-employed are that they prefer regular, fixed income; stable employment with fixed working hours and protection by social security or insurances,” Matjaši? said, explaining that in some EU cultures entrepreneurship is still perceived as risky.
Entrepreneurs are seen more as “gamblers” than real businessmen, the European Youth Forum president conceded.
'Youth on the Move'
Youth organisations across Europe are convinced that a standardised youth guarantee, accompanied with adequate financial investments, would help turn inactive young people into entrepreneurs and can tackle growing unemployment rates, as well as kick-start the economy.
As part of the strategy, Youth on the Move, one of the seven flagship projects of the EU's Europe 2020 growth programme, the EU is encouraging member countries to adopt a “youth guarantee scheme”. The scheme would ensure that young people are offered a job, further training or work experience within six months of leaving school.
“Unfortunately, internships [especially those taking place after education] are becoming a widespread practice for precarious jobs for young people with no or little learning involved,” said Matjaši?, underlining these internships are replacing real entry level jobs.
Commenting on the European Commission presentation yesterday of its proposal Erasmus for All, the new programme for education, training and youth, Matjaši?, stressed that projects offering good quality internships and apprenticeships would greatly contribute to bridging the skills gap.
He was speaking to EURACTIV's managing editor Daniela Vincenti