Important first steps
The ‘Youth on the Move’ initiative adopted this week by the European Commission (“Commission seeks to cut youth unemployment”, 9-15 September) marks an important step in helping to integrate young people into the labour market and address the high levels of youth unemployment across the EU27.
The emphasis on the three pillars of education, training and mobility, and the cross-departmental co-operation in developing the policy, are to be applauded and will certainly be necessary if we are to meet the 2020 target of a 75% employment rate.
So too will greater co-operation between public and private employment services. Agency work facilitates transitions – from unemployment to work, from shrinking sectors to growing sectors, and from temporary employment to full-time jobs. But it also has a special importance for young people, the best represented demographic in the agency work industry.
For young people, agency work is often their first experience of the world of work. A recent international survey, conducted for France’s Observatoire des Métiers et de l’Emploi in Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Spain and the UK, revealed that the overwhelming majority of those surveyed found agency work to be an effective method of finding a first job (ranging from 59% in Germany to 92% in the UK), with a high proportion also seeing agencies as an effective way to find a full-time job (from 40% in Italy to 90% in the UK).
By staying close to the workplace, the sector understands the skills that employers need, and can provide ongoing training and skills enhancement to equip workers for the jobs available and to match supply with demand. This capacity to increase participation in the labour market should be harnessed by the EU. Indeed, to work effectively, the EU’s job mobility scheme ‘Your first EURES job’ – launched this week – needs to work in co-operation with the private sector.
Our sector already works closely with public employment services in many markets across Europe, notably in France, Belgium, the Netherlands and the UK, and the facts speak for themselves: those countries that have embraced such modern labour-market practices have been the most resilient in the recent economic crisis.
Managing director, Eurociett (Confederation of Private Employment Agencies)