Social Cohesion Thinking Lab Summit Policy Proposal

How to Tackle Skill Mismatch and Reduce Youth Unemployment

The World of Business Urges for Soft Skills - EU Mobility Programs Offer the Solution!


"Erasmus+ bags" (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) by European Parliament


The first European Thinking Lab took place from 25-27 November in Lisbon. During the Summit, the contributors cooperated within their Thinking Lab and worked out brief policy proposals. Dimitris Maragkos worked on the topics of skill mismatch and youth unemployment.


The first European Thinking Lab took place from 25-27 November in Lisbon. During the Summit, the contributors cooperated within their Thinking Lab and worked out brief policy proposals. Dimitris Maragkos worked on the topics of skill mismatch and youth unemployment.

It is unanimously accepted that youth unemployment is an enormous challenge for the future both of the European Union and for each Member State. Nevertheless, the problem of youth unemployment within the EU is not a new issue.

For the last 25 years, it has consistently been twice as high as the rate of general unemployment in Europe. Moreover, while young highly educated people, distinguished with one/two master degrees or even a PhD, are eager to work, more than half of those newcomers complain not to find one job.

At the same time, enterprises across the European Union struggle to find young people with the skills that the world of business needs. In 2013/14, there were 5.7 million young unemployed Europeans, while at the same time a third of employers couldn’t find employees with adequate skills on the labor market.  The abovementioned skills are not just the typical formal ones such as diplomas, certifications, knowledge of a foreign language, but also and maybe more importantly, the entrepreneurial, soft or transversal skills. Most of the times these skills are not acquired by formal education, but through the participation of young people, either students or graduates in EU Mobility programs. The new generation of programs targeting employability of young people is being implemented by EU institutions during the last years. Programs such as Mobility for Studies, Erasmus+, Mobility of Youth Workers, European Voluntary Service or Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs indicate the willingness of EU to battle unemployment using mobility programmes.

The large-scale VALERA study (Bracht et al. 2006) revealed that former Erasmus students associated their experience of mobility with improved international competences and facilitated access to the labour market. The study concluded that students do not only mature during their stay but also improve competences often summarised as soft or key skills like intercultural awareness, adaptability, flexibility, innovativeness, productivity, motivation, endurance, problem-solving abilities and being able to work productively in a team (Bracht et al. 2006, 209).

Young people who study or train abroad not only gain knowledge in specific disciplines, but also strengthen key transversal skills which are highly valued by employers. The Erasmus Impact Study of the European Commission shows that graduates with international experience fare much better on the job market. They are half as likely to experience long-term unemployment compared to those who have not studied or trained abroad and, five years after graduation, their unemployment rate is 23% lower. The report reveals that more than one in three Erasmus trainees is offered a position in the enterprise where they do their traineeship. Erasmus trainees are also more entrepreneurial than their stay-at-home counterparts: one in ten has started their own company and more than three out of four plan to, or at least can imagine to do so.

So if you are still hesitating about taking part in a mobility program, just do it! Take the step and build a better future for you!