European youth often lack necessary job skills and entrepreneurial competences, which contributes to consistently high youth unemployment rates. To address this problem, a group of policy and industry stakeholders gathered today to launch the Entrepreneurial Skills Pass (ESP), a European qualification in entrepreneurship for young people, giving potential employers proof that its holder has real entrepreneurship experience and relevant job skills.
It is hoped that this pass will help young people increase their chances of finding a job or launching their own business. The initiative was developed by JA-YE Europe, the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber (WKO), CSR Europe and the Danish Foundation For Entrepreneurship-Young Enterprise (FFE-YE) and co-funded by the European Commission with further support from a number of private enterprises.
Hosted by MEPs Petra Kammerevert (S&D, Germany) and Jutta Steinruck (S&D, Germany), the round-table discussion stressed the importance of entrepreneurship education and financial literacy programmes in helping increase youth employability.
MEP Petra Kammerevert opened the discussion by underlining entrepreneurial education as a much needed long-term investment: “A shrinking and increasingly competitive job market presents a serious challenge for policy-makers. We must ensure that European youth possess all the necessary job skills that are attractive to employers or that they hold basic entrepreneurship skills that can help them become self-employed. After all, having a competent young workforce is crucial to retaining competitiveness of the EU economy as a whole."
The participants also discussed the current lack of basic financial literacy skills among youth as was demonstrated by a recent study Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) conducted by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Adele Atkinson, a policy analyst at the OECD, stressed the importance of integrating financial literacy training into secondary schools’ curricula.
This was further supported by Visa Europe, which recently conducted its own research on Europeans’ entrepreneurial aspirations. “More than 50% of young people aged 18-24 said they had a good business idea. However, as many as 20% admitted they feared starting-up in business because they did not understand the financial implications of running a business. Therefore, a good financial education is essential to empower more young Europeans to become successfully self-employed, creating new jobs for their peers in the long-term,” said Nick Jones, Head of Corporate Responsibility & Digital Communications at Visa Europe.
It was also concluded that in order to improve financial literacy it is necessary to cultivate strong partnerships between businesses and educators. Trudy Norris-Grey, Managing Director Central & Eastern Europe, Public Sector Microsoft called for additional endorsement of ESP:
“Given high levels of youth unemployment in Europe, it is vital that we equip young people with the skills they need to succeed in the labor market. Increasingly, this means bridging the education-to-work gap. Microsoft is thrilled to be supporting JA-YE Europe with the launch of their Entrepreneurial Skills Pass. We call on both the public and private sectors to embrace the ESP as a way of placing digital entrepreneurship skills at the heart of Europe’s education systems, and ensuring that entrepreneurship becomes an essential competence in today’s workplaces.”
Caroline Jenner, CEO of JA-YE Europe reissued this Call to Action by reminding us: “It is not only young people that will benefit from the Entrepreneurial Skills Pass. Employers will also gain access to a newly qualified and talented pool of youth – enriching their workforce and fuelling the economy. That’s why we are calling for increased support from leaders and businesses. Join us by endorsing ESP today.”
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