Brussels: The European Commission yesterday launched the "We Mean Business" campaign, which aims to encourage companies to create more trainee placements to boost young people's skills and employability.
The Commission said that traineeships can help young people make a smooth transition from education and training to a first good job. Placements can also bring benefits to companies, enabling them to identify potentially excellent future employees who could, with their fresh ideas, be key to future productivity and competitiveness. In 2012-2013, the Commission will provide funding support for a total of 280,000 placements through its Leonardo da Vinci and Erasmus schemes for vocational and higher education students.
Androulla Vassiliou, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, said, "We Mean Business will support efforts by Member States to combat youth unemployment, which has reached unacceptably high levels in some EU countries. In particular, we want to raise awareness of the value of international placements, which can improve an individual's language skills as well as helping them to be more self-confident and adaptable. Our studies show that employers increasingly value these kinds of skills."
A Belgo-Italian Chamber of Commerce survey in 2010 showed that few companies are aware of the possibility of hosting a trainee in the framework of a European programme. The "We Mean Business" campaign aims to change this situation and to demonstrate the benefits of international placements to businesses.
The campaign has a dedicated website, which contains information and links on how to organise or find a European placement. Awareness raising events will take place in Member States, targeted at chambers of commerce, regional development agencies, business support organisations and other 'multipliers' who can highlight the benefits of placements for companies.
As part of its "Youth Opportunities Initiative", unveiled in December 2011 (IP/11/1568), the European Commission undertook to increase by 30% the number of Leonardo da Vinci and Erasmus work placements for vocational and higher education students. In 2012, at least 130,000 young people will receive support for a traineeship in a workplace abroad. This figure should rise to 150,000 next year.
Studies show that trainees with foreign language skills can help enterprises to enter new markets. At the same time, businesses with workforces that lack language and communication skills can end up counting the cost of missed opportunities. In a 2006 Commission survey of nearly 2000 European businesses, 11% of respondents lost a contract as a result of lack of language skills, costing them up to 50 million euros in total.
In parallel to the "We Mean Business" campaign, the Commission will this week adopt a comprehensive package of new measures aimed at delivering a job-rich recovery. One of its main objectives will be to stimulate recruitment in the green economy, health services and ICT.