This was the message from Androulla Vassiliou, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, at the launch in November 2013 of 'Nestlé needs YOUth', a new initiative inspired by the Commission's European Alliance for Apprenticeships. The Swiss multinational has pledged to create 20 000 jobs, apprenticeships and traineeships across Europe in the next three years.
"I welcome today's pledge by Nestlé. In a time of crisis, investing in the education and skills of young people is more important than ever. It is also vital that we invest in quality so that that our young people develop the skills and competences which will make them employable. This means that the private and public sectors need to work in partnership," said Commissioner Vassiliou.
Nestlé also pledged today to work with 60 000 business partners to increase work opportunities for young people. The company will provide 120 business ambassadors, who will provide advice and guidance to smaller companies that wish to start or strengthen apprenticeship schemes.
"This is an excellent example of how private companies should get engaged. Investing in skills not only benefits young people but also the businesses themselves because they will have a pool of young productive employees. By mobilising its network of small and medium-sized business partners, companies like Nestlé can also increase the impact of such initiatives," added Commissioner Vassiliou.
The Commission's European Alliance for Apprenticeships, launched in July by Commissioners Vassiliou and László Andor, in charge of employment, called for partnerships and pledges to strengthen the supply and quality of apprenticeships across Europe. Nestlé was among the first to sign up, pledging to increase the number of high quality apprenticeships and traineeships by 50% by 2016.
The Commission has received 30 other pledges from businesses, social partners, chambers of commerce, industry and crafts, vocational education and training providers, youth organisations and others, which are published online. On 15 October, Member States adopted a Council Declaration in support of the European Alliance for Apprenticeships, and agreed on guidelines to improve their apprenticeships systems.
Next month, the Commission is due to present a Quality Framework for Traineeships, to ensure that young people can acquire high quality work experience in safe conditions to increase their employability. The Commission also plans to include apprenticeships and traineeships on the EURES job mobility portal; a further proposal to strengthen EURES services to job-seekers and employers is due to be presented by the Commission before the end of 2013.
The new Erasmus+ programme, to be launched in January, will provide grants more than four million people, mostly under the age of 25, to study, train, work or volunteer abroad. They will include 2 million higher education students, 650 000 vocational training students and apprentices, as well as more than 500 000 young people volunteering abroad or taking part in youth exchanges. This international experience boosts skills and employability.
In December 2012, Greece signed a cooperation agreement with Germany to help reform its vocational education, training and apprenticeships system. The idea is to develop a 'dual' system of training, which combines theoretical learning at school and practical in-company experience.