The European Commission is to unveil its ‘We Mean Business’ campaign tomorrow in a bid to encourage employers to offer fully-funded international work placements to young people.
The aim of the move is to boost young people’s skills and employability at a time of high youth unemployment across Europe.
To this end, the EC is providing financial support for the creation of 280,000 work placements over the next two years via the body’s Leonardo da Vinci
vocational education and training programme and its Erasmus
scheme, which is similar but aimed at students in higher education.
The goal is to fund 130,000 traineeships this year in order to enable young people to work abroad so as to improve their language skills. A further 150,000 placements are expected to follow in 2013.
Androulla Vassiliou, European Commissioner for education, culture, multilingalism and youth, said that the objective of the ‘We Mean Business’ campaign was to support the efforts of member states in combating youth unemployment, which has reached “unacceptably high levels” in some EU countries.
“In particular, we want to raise awareness of the value of international placements, which can improve an individual’s language skills as well as helping them to be more self-confident and adaptable,” she added. “Our studies show that employers increasingly value these kinds of skills.”
A 2006 EC survey revealed that nearly 11% of the 2,000 employers questioned had lost at least one contract due to a lack of language skills, a situation that cost them up to E50 million.
The ‘We Mean Business’ campaign is part of the EC’s ‘Youth Opportunities Initiative’, which was launched in December last year with a pledge to increase the number of work placements funded by the Leonardo da Vinci and Erasmus schemes by 30%.
It will have its own dedicated website, which will provide information for employers and candidates on how to organise or find a European traineeship.
The EC will also unveil plans to try and stimulate hiring in the green economy, health services and ICT tomorrow too.