Paving the Way for Quality Youth Employment in Europe

Dec 01, 2015
  • GE partners with the European Youth Forum and sign the European Quality Charter for Internships and Apprenticeships
  • GE pledges to create 3,000 quality internships and apprenticeships every year in Europe.

30 November, Brussels - General Electric and the European Youth Forum, with the support of MEP Milan Zver (EPP, Slovenia), partnered up to address practical measures to pave the way for quality youth employment in Europe at a debate hosted in the European Parliament. The debate tackled how quality internships and apprenticeships will enhance youth inclusion in the labour market and concluded with GE signing the European Quality Charter for Internships and Apprenticeships. GE has also recently signed the pledge for the European Alliance for Apprenticeships. This is a commitment to the creation of at least 3,000 quality internships and apprenticeships every year in Europe to help address the problem of youth unemployment, which has now reached an astounding 4.6 million.

Peter Stracar, CEO of GE for the Central and Eastern European region, said: “GE is delighted to support the European Youth Forum’s initiative by signing the Charter.  In Europe we have an unacceptably high level of youth unemployment and there is a skills mismatch between those leaving our educational sector and the needs of industry. While great strides have been made to address this issue, much more needs to be done to ensure that we have a pipeline of talent with the right skills. Ultimately, this is about the future competitiveness of Europe and about greater social inclusion. Attracting good talent is very important to companies like GE.  However, finding people in Europe with the right skills set is becoming increasingly challenging. We need to provide an environment which is conducive to the creation of real and quality internships and apprenticeships offering our young people a step up into the labour market.

Tinkara Oblak, Board Member of the European Youth Forum, said: "We are delighted that GE has signed the European Quality Charter for Internships and Apprenticeships. It is fantastic to see such a significant corporate recognise the importance of providing good quality opportunities for youth. Internships that have strong learning content, are fairly remunerated and which are a stepping stone into a real job are beneficial both to young people themselves but also to employers. We hope that GE’s commitment to quality standards, will help spread this message both to policy makers and other employers across Europe and the world."

MEP Milan Zver (EPP, Slovenia), host of the event, mentioned the great efforts of the European Parliament and other European institutions to "increase the quality and efficiency of education and improve employment prospects for young people in EU". He stressed that "European schools are still not able to provide adequately skilled employees for about 2.5 million workplaces" and added that "the key task of educational systems in the EU is to overcome the gap between the educational production on one hand and the needs of the economy on the other".  In this context, he welcomed business-education partnerships and especially the European Alliance for Apprenticeships. He continued, saying that: "more than anything we need to equip young people with appropriate skills and values to support their smooth transition into the labour market as well as into society”. He concluded, "without companies like General Electric we would not be able to reach these goals".

GE’s Commitment to Youth Employment

GE has recently committed to introducing a minimum of 3,000 internships/apprenticeships in the EU and filling 30% of its entry level positions through these roles, as part of the European Alliance for Apprenticeships - an effort launched in 2013 by DG Employment, Social Affairs, and Inclusion.

European Quality Charter for Internships and Apprenticeships

The European Youth Forum developed the European Quality Charter for Internships and Apprenticeships in order to establish minimum standards for interns across Europe. Whilst there are around 4.5 million students and graduates doing an internship in Europe each year, 40% work without a contract, while 59% of them are unpaid.

The Charter states that an internship must be an educational experience - and one that is accessible to all young people, not just those that can afford to work for free. The Employers Guide to Quality Internships, developed with key employers, shows that employers themselves can benefit from investing in their young interns and apprentices - through, for example, building early career talent pipelines and improving a company’s reputation.

In today’s event, the Youth Forum called on employers and policy-makers to sign the Quality Charter, following the lead of GE, and become ambassadors for quality internships and apprenticeships. The change begins from each individual employer - and it is a change that can enable young people in Europe to contribute fairly to the labour market, and to European society as a whole.

About GE

GE (NYSE: GE) is the world’s Digital Industrial Company, transforming industry with software-defined machines and solutions that are connected, responsive and predictive. GE is organized around a global exchange of knowledge, the "GE Store," through which each business shares and accesses the same technology, markets, structure and intellect. Each invention further fuels innovation and application across our industrial sectors. With people, services, technology and scale, GE delivers better outcomes for customers by speaking the language of industry. www.ge.com

About the European Youth Forum

The European Youth Forum is the platform of youth organisations in Europe. Independent, democratic, youth-led, it represents 99 National Youth Councils and international youth organisations from across the continent. The Forum works to empower young people to participate actively in society to improve their own lives, by representing and advocating their needs and interests and those of their organisations towards the European Union, the Council of Europe and the United Nations. For more information, visit www.youthforum.org

Media Contacts:

Lucia Odone +32 494 83 65 57