Inclusive labour market and youth employment: Europe-wide analysis

From 31 May to 2 June 2018 took place in Jūrmala, Latvia, a seminar about “Inclusive labour market and youth employment: Europe-wide analysis”, organized by LKrA (Latvijas Kristīga Akadēmija), with the support of EZA and of the European Union.

64 representatives of workers’ organisations from Lavtia, Lithuania, Estonia, Germany and Norway (as guests) were present.

The most important aspect of the project was: a) its contribution to following up on the targets of the European Commissions’ Europe-2020 strategy, contributing to social justice and contributing to identifying current economic and political tasks regarding guidelines, principles, legislation and other activities that affect the living conditions conductive to welfare, such as young persons’ quality of life and other responses to social needs for justice, fighting inequality in labor sphere; enhancement of social cohesion and solidarity among EU countries for youth employment; b) based upon sociological analysis of  youth employment in different European countries, reflecting upon  social policy and educational policy deficits and failures of the EU member states in the youth work, LKrA and the participants of this seminar analyzed what has caused these deficits:

  1. High drop-out rate at all levels of the educational career from primary, compulsory, secondary and tertiary education. Fighting school drop-out is also a target of the Europe-2020 strategy,
  2. In the Baltic States, the university education is lasting too long, causing delayed graduations with respect to the Curricular years,
  3. Technical education and vocational training is still on a low quality in the Baltics,
  4. As a consequence, the educational system both at high-secondary and tertiary levels conveys mainly general competencies rather than the work-related ones. Still the education systems assume as their mission a general education rather than the all-round human capital,
  5. This makes the transition to a permanent job extremely slow since firms require job-related competencies, not the general skills.
  6. As a consequence of the deficit of knowledge, young people have to start accumulating work experience after completing their education on their own, which means that they can more easily develop general work experience in short-term jobs rather than gaining job-specific experience which requires long-period work experience;

c) the seminar provided a good insight into how we can facilitate social integration of young people in the organizations’ professional environment. We addressed the policy options for enhancing measures for youth employment in the context of the European semester and addressed how to match professional education with labor market needs like necessity to implement reforms of the education system in various directions: to imply a move towards more flexible education which allows moving easily from one track to another and from one study field to another. Second, we analyzed Bologna reform needs for reassessment to understand what didn’t work and how to make it work. For instance, the dual principle should be introduced at all levels of the education system, instead of sequential educational principles. The various components of the Human Capital are complementing each other, not substituting each other. And can get better developed if they are generated together. Work-related learning goes together with the recent implementation of European Youth Guarantee.

Finally, the seminar addressed the question how we can organize youth work and society in a way that interpersonal relationships can grow and develop in a climate of solidarity and humanity.

A modern work-life balance policy, including youth employment is contributing to improving to employment rates and to reducing poverty and social exclusion, in line with the EU priorities reflected in the Strategy Europe 2020 targets and with the Commission’s priorities of jobs and growth outlined in President Junker’s political guidelines.

The following topic fields were discussed:

Comparative analysis of EU countries of quality aspects of youth employment measures, professional education and training; Youth integration as workforce in the Baltic States; the implementation of “Youth guarantees”  by the Public Employment Service; employment of young refugees; Practical experience with the labor market for young persons with mental health problems; Practical initiatives from youth employment training centers from rural areas; View of Latvian National Parliament on youth employment and “Youth Guarantees”.

Important work was done before seminar, mutually agreed preparation done by joint consultations by EZA and representatives of LKrA – together with LBAS (Latvian Free Trade Union Confederation) and members from Lithuania and Estonia. All speeches were perfectly prepared and first-class. All texts of speeches were available in printed version for participants of seminar. We would like to mention reporter – sociologist Juris Osis, assist. prof. at LKrA, Report on European situation for Employment Promotion measures for youth not in employment, education or training (NEET). Mr. Pēteris Krīgers, former president of LBAS, the present member of European Economic and Social Committee; his report on youth employment via European Semester and national reform programs. Mr. Imants Lipskis, LR Ministry of Welfare, Director of Labor Market Policy Department, on Comparative analysis of youth employment in the context of European countries. Mrs. Laura Iveta Strode, LR Ministry of Education and Science, Department of Professional and Adult Education, on Youth professional education and social inclusion. Prof. Marju Medar, Tallinn University, on Experience of young persons of mental health problems in the Estonian labor market.

The very special was field trip to Latvian National Parliament and meeting with Mrs. Aija Barča, Chairman of National Parliament Committee of Social and Employment affairs, evaluation of youth employment situation on national level.

  • Results
  1. there were written results from 2 working groups – answers to questionnaires distributed before the seminar via e-mail. During informative lectures the participants from different trade unions were asked to find solutions for topical questions and submit them during the second seminar days. 24 answers were received in written form: 10 from the first work group, 14 from the second. Both groups advised the new economy as the fascinating and developing possibility for youth employment measures and advocated for more promotion of practical achievements of different EU projects.
  • Resolution
  1. On the second day, a Letter of Advice (cfr. Annex) was sent to the Latvian National Parliament Committee of Employment and Social Affairs, addressed to its chairwoman Mrs. Aija Barča. In the letter,  conclusions of the seminar  on youth employment were formulated  and advices for improving the youth employment measures  were given: in order to stimulate  further networking between the three Baltic States via a common sustainable platform; the advice on how we can “repair” damaged social cohesion caused by difficulties of integrating  young people  in a professional environment; initiatives of the Latvian Rural and Advisory Training Center for Youth Employment were recommended as innovative efforts.
  • Cconsequences
  1. All participants of the seminar supported the idea that the seminar was highly informative and that it gave a holistic overview of youth employment. It was therefore relevant theoretically as well as for the daily work practice. Participants were encouraged to invest certain daily efforts at workplace in the spirit of Social justice and Social cohesion to improve of the professional environment for young people. Participants got practical knowledge about different generations of young people and their different expectations from the labor market.
  2. The participants of the organizations will apply the results of the seminar through their knowledge improvement, encouragement for innovative approach to social cohesion and responsibility before EU political agenda to do practically as it was taught in the seminar.




By this Letter we address you after the international seminar organized by the Latvian Christian Academy and EZA (European Center for Workers’ Questions), titled “Inclusive Labour Market and Youth Employment: Europe-Wide Analysis” (May 31 – June 2, 2018, at Latvian Christian academy).

The analytical part of the seminar was based on conclusions of the internationally recognized experts related to the youth employment in EU countries. The practical basis for the analytical part was an independent analysis of the real situation in Latvia in comparison to other EU countries.

Participants of the seminar rounded-up data on following issues:

  1. Comparative analysis of the Youth Employment in the context of EU countries,
  2. Youth guarantees implementation effectiveness in Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia,
  3. Situation of vocational education and training quality,
  4. Monitoring of youth employment in Latvia via European Semester: engaging in Social dialogue on national reform programmes,
  5. Complexities of Youth Employment and experience of persons with mental health problems and service providers,
  6. Positive initiatives of Latvian Rural Advisory and Training Centre and youth employment.

64 participants attended the seminar, 45 of them represented various professions and respective trade unions concerned with the professional destiny of youth in poor countries.

Following guidelines of the European Social Agenda related to the Youth Employment and Youth Guarantees effectivity analysis, we acknowledge the importance of the summarized seminar results for handing them to the Committee of Social affairs and employment chaired by you in order to promote its involvement.

Participants came up with concrete and realistic solutions that they could start implementing straight after the seminar. We, summarizing results of workshops and analysis, find it possible to recommend:

  1. The Youth Mediators Initiative was presented at the seminar. Previously unemployed young people who had undertaken tertiary education in social, pedagogical, humanitarian, economic and legal sciences, received training to become social workers or labour mediators. They can be recruited by the local municipalities in regards to the needs of the particular district. Examples from different European countries who have managed to assist young people in making contact with labour market organization gave good results,
  2. Building alliances and defining roles. Identifying which actor exercises leadership in each alliance,
  3. To change thinking in terms of sustainable processes, as opposed to isolated actions and projects which end when the money support is stopped
  4. Increasing flexibility to support integrated pathway, suppressing barriers to modernizing relevant administrations. Higher informal control of the result-oriented European Commission’s projects paying more close attention to the sustainability development of each project,
  5. Creating one-stop shops.

Participants, representing employment, social affairs, youth and education administration, as well as the private business sector and social partners shared wide range of proposals. We look forward to more close cooperation in future to find ways to reach out more effectively to the young people furthest away from the labour market. We need multi-faceted challenge and partnership as a key recipe for success.

Prof. Skaidrīte Gūtmane, Rector of Latvian Christian academy

Pēteris Krīgers, Member of EESC (European Economic and Social Committee), Former President of Free Trade Union Confederation (Latvia).