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You are here: Home i Articles i Comments i Comments 2013 i Editorial: Can we afford not to invest in young people?
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Editorial: Can we afford not to invest in young people?

| By Berit Kvam

What can get more young people into work? Where are the successful experiences that shows it pays to give young people a chance in working life? Everyone shares the same goal: getting people into work while maintaining an efficient use of taxpayers’ money, says Sweden’s Minister for Labour Hillevi Engström in this month’s theme.

In Europe nearly six million under 25s do not have jobs. Sweden’s youth unemployment is higher than the European average according to Statistics Sweden. In July 140,000 under 25s were unemployed, or 17.2 percent.

The Swedish Presidency of the Nordic Council of Ministers has good reasons for putting youth unemployment on the agenda. They want to talk to their Nordic neighbours and the social partners about which measures can get more young people into work. On 16 May Nordic prime ministers and labour ministers met to look for good solutions and to identify what the authorities can do together with businesses. The Nordic Labour Journal can now present the results of the consultancy agency Damvad’s mapping of what makes a good youth project. It provides some good advice: set up permanent contact persons for both parties, agree on goals and how to achieve them.

In July the EU Commission launched the campaign ‘The European Alliance for Apprenticeships’, based on the knowledge that vocational training often leads to jobs. The EU campaign highlights positive experiences from Germany. Finland have so-called training agreements, but the apprentices are adults already in employment.

And at the end of August Sweden’s Minister for Labour Hillevi Engström invited her Nordic colleagues, employers and workers to Övertorneå to discuss Nordic experiences with labour market education offered by the labour market authorities, and to explore whether this is a good way to spend money. “It is in this group we can learn the most from each other,” she says. It proved to be a tricky thing to do; the thinking in the Nordic countries is often similar, but systems and measures are different. In the end the meeting agreed to investigate the different countries’ systems on a deeper level.

The training The Arctic Vocational Foundation provided the inspiration and was the real reason for arranging the meeting in Övertorneå. “People who have fallen outside of the system hate the formal school, but they are very keen to learn,” says the school’s head Sture Troli. Utdanning Nord focuses on internships, all students get tailored courses and are set individual goals. A board of trade safeguards that the vocational training is following regulations and that people find work. “I think this is a fantastic project,” said Christina Colclough from the Council of Nordic Trade Unions. 

Building on the experiences made by The Arctic Vocational Foundation may be a way to move forward? Vocational training is expensive. The question is whether we can afford not to give more people the chance.

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