The second German-Greek youth forum brought together government representatives and NGOs from both countries in Thessaloniki (5-9 March), with Cedefop participation.

The forum is piloted by the German Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth and the Greek Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs.

It prepares the establishment of a German-Greek Youth Office similar to the German-French Youth Office which has promoted thousands of projects and exchanges since it was founded in 1963 by General De Gaulle and Chancellor Adenauer.

The first German-Greek youth forum was held in Bad Honnef, Germany, in 2014, resulting in nearly 100 bilateral projects.

During this year’s event, a structured memorandum of cooperation was prepared, expected to be ratified by Easter, while two liaison offices, located in Thessaloniki and Bonn, have been established.

Cedefop was invited by the Greek partners, represented by the Education Ministry’s Secretariat General for Youth and Lifelong Learning, to highlight the European dimension of this important bilateral initiative.

Cedefop expert Pedro Morena da Fonseca spoke about the need to upskill young people for jobs and occupations across the European Union. He explained that having the right skills and qualifications strengthens young people’s labour market prospects; low qualifications directly relate to the risk of unemployment. On the other hand, many young people are highly qualified, but their qualifications often do not match the requirements of the jobs they take on, especially in southern European countries.

Mr Moreno da Fonseca said that, owing to these constraints, vocational education and training is an all-too-often neglected option, though it can help improve the match between a young person’s education and their career choices. He concluded by stressing the importance of guidance and career education.

Cedefop’s Europass coordinator Philippe Tissot moderated a Europass workshop, providing background information and statistics and giving a practical online demonstration of its capabilities.