Young Europeans: An Urgent Educational Challenge

Young Europeans: an urgent educational challenge (Doc. 13155)
Rapporteur of the Committee on Culture, Science, Education and Media:
Ms Polonca KOMAR (Slovenia, ALDE)

Mr O’REILLY (Ireland) – I congratulate the rapporteurs, Ms Komar and Mr Connarty, on a job well done.
The greatest challenge and disincentive to young people participating properly in democracy and society is obviously youth unemployment, which is running at 22% across Europe and is as high as 50% in some places. With 40% of young people on contracts, the statistics are scary. The EU youth guarantee scheme, whereby an 18 to 25-year-old must be offered employment or training after four months of unemployment, is excellent and should be encouraged in all member states and spread beyond the EU. We should be encouraging it at the Council of Europe. We should implement every initiative that will contribute to getting young people into work.

It is important to recognise, as the reports do, the lack of IT, maths and science skills. So many more young people could be employed if that dearth was dealt with, and it should be a priority for the Council of Europe. There is obviously a case for developing entrepreneurship in young people in education, and linked to that is the worthwhile suggestion about the recognition of non-formal schooling competencies.
Access to education is the key to the empowerment of young people and ultimately to employment. Every step should be taken on this issue, and we should monitor carefully within the Council of Europe how our member states are performing on access to education, and encourage them in that regard. The question of bullying also arises. If good anti-bullying policies do not exist, such access is not available.

We need to tackle the youth unemployment and access to education questions. The two are interlinked, and they are the two great challenges facing this generation. Sad to say, the current generation of young people will be the first ever to be poorer and in a more adverse position than their parents. That is a shocking challenge for us and it behoves us to act on it.

Senator Joe O'Reilly representing Cavan & Monaghan 2010. | An ExSite website