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Cyprus needs to better prepare its young people for work

University students

Ensuring that young Cypriots have the skills employers are looking for is vital if the country is to reduce its youth unemployment rate, EU Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth Androulla Vassiliou has said.

In the EU there are currently two million vacancies, which could be filled by young people but a third of employers cannot recruit staff with the right qualifications, the commissioner said,

“Levels of youth unemployment across Europe are unacceptably high. They can only be overcome if our education and training systems are more effective and adapted to the needs of the job market,” Vassiliou said.

The economic crisis has hit young people more than any other age group.

Around six million young people are currently unemployed across the EU and the level of youth unemployment in Cyprus is nearly twice as high as the overall jobless rate — 23 per cent compared with 12 per cent in the EU.

Youth unemployment – under 25 — in Cyprus jumped from 9.0 per cent in 2008 to more than 40 per cent today.

Cyprus is also faced with a unique problem in the EU: the unemployment rate for young graduates (25 per cent) is higher than among the lowest skilled groups (22 per cent).

This partly reflects its high level of tertiary graduates but is equally due to the skills mismatch.

In contrast, the unemployment rate in the EU is less than 11 per cent on average for graduates and 27 per cent for those with only lower secondary qualifications or less.

“Like many other countries, Cyprus needs to better prepare its young people for work,” Vassiliou said. “We have to address the mismatch between the skills our young people leave education with and the needs of employers.”

The European Commission is working together with Member States to put in place a Youth Guarantee, aimed at ensuring that all young people under 25 get a good-quality, concrete offer of a job, apprenticeship, traineeship, or continued education within four months of leaving formal education or becoming unemployed.

Cyprus is due to receive €11 million from the EU’s Youth Unemployment Initiative to support the introduction of the Youth Guarantee. This funding will support apprenticeships, work placements, and job advice.

Cyprus has submitted a ‘Youth Guarantee Implementation Plan’ to the Commission, in which it outlines reforms of apprenticeship, vocational education and training systems. ‘

Second-chance’ education for vulnerable groups, such as early school leavers and low-skilled unemployed, are also part of the plan.

The need to address the ‘skills mismatch’ will be the focus of a speech by Vassiliou at the European University Cyprus Forum on Youth and Employment on Friday March 21.

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