‘Youths should be empowered to guarantee their own employment through education and training in a lifelong learning context,’ said Cedefop Director James Calleja addressing a high-level conference on the role of the Regions in the implementation of the youth guarantee, in Kavala, Greece.

Mr Calleja stressed the importance of education and training in all environments – informal, formal and non-formal. He said that to achieve a smoother transition between education and the labour market, one ought to avoid skills mismatching and boost youth entrepreneurship.

The youth guarantee is a temporary measure, which employers, youths and governments should use to boost learning opportunities, acquire skills and competences needed in the labour market and instil a culture of learning on the job.

Mr Calleja noted that the financial crisis, now subsiding in various European Union Member States, is an opportunity to attract more people to learning environments, which close the gap between education and training and employment.

Cedefop is at the forefront of promoting youth entrepreneurship, apprenticeship programmes and work-based learning as means to achieve this objective. Work-based learning in particular empowers learners and benefits employers.

‘The youth employment initiative is an excellent vehicle to job creation through education and training involving employers, training institutions and governments. Young people need to be prepared for a labour market which is constantly changing; the acquisition of basic skills as early as possible in schools, therefore, is a good foundation for employability,’ added Mr Calleja.

The Cedefop Director regards the Kavala region as an attractive location for the hospitality industry to flourish together with other sectors such as the financial and leisure sectors. The key target for all stakeholders and policy-makers is not simply to create jobs but to ensure that people, especially younger generations, are employable because they possess the right transferable skills.

The conference, on 4 March, was also addressed by the European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion László Andor, the Regional Governor of East Macedonia and Thrace Aristeidis Giannakidis and the Mayor of Kavala Constantinos Simitsis among other distinguished Greek and international guest speakers.

Cedefop expert Ernesto Villalba-Garcia presented the agency’s work on the importance of developing entrepreneurship skills for employability and the validation of non-formal and informal learning.