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Youth mobility: a policy that goes beyond employment

16 Nov 2017

youth mobility

At their Autumn Plenary meeting in Brussels, the Youth Regional Network (YRN) took a closer look at the topic of youth mobility. The aim was to grasp the incredible potential (and underlying repercussions) for the stakeholders involved in promoting the mobility of (young) people in Europe. As youth delegates from their regions, YRN members were encouraged to keep these stakes in mind when considering youth mobility policies in the future.

Youth mobility at AER

Our very own youth mobility programme: Eurodyssey

28 AER member regions are involved and managing the AER Eurodyssey programme. The programme offers internships and language courses to young graduates (up to 35 years old) in another European region. The programme prides itself in promoting fair mobility: mobility for all.

It does so by:


  • working with companies of different sizes and active in different sectors (SMEs, multinational, private and public organisations, NGOs, etc.)
  • offering traineeships in a broad-range of sectors (22 sectors in the past year of activity)
  • targeting young people with different levels of education (from upper secondary to PHD graduates)
  • offering placements in urban and rural areas
  • taking measures to work with less qualified youngsters and youngsters in need

What’s in it for regions?

The complexity of youth mobility is apparent when we look at the bodies responsible with implementing the Eurodyssey programme on behalf of the 28 regions.

Many of them are employment agencies, but others are regional departments responsible for youth policy or education and life-long learning or social policy and integration and sometimes international or European affairs.

Although the most common and obvious reason to promote youth mobility is tackling youth unemployment, there may be other reasons for promoting youth mobility. For example, what are Swiss cantons, where youth unemployment is close to zero, getting out of a youth mobility programme?

The Eurodyssey Statute states that (Article 1) the programme aims at increasing employability, building ties between regions and helping companies open up to Europe but also promoting the notion of European citizenship. So if getting a relevant job experience in another European region is a clear plus for a youngster’s CV, the experience gained and benefits go beyond the sole objective of getting on the job market; youth mobility can also be about reducing socio-economic barriers, promoting life-long-learning, improving integration of minorities and, more generally, taking part in interregional cooperation.

Win-win-win for the stakeholders

The fact that the Eurodyssey programme is nested in an interregional organisation also sheds light on the value placed on the stakeholders involved. Contrary to other youth mobility programmes, Eurodyssey clearly identifies and is concerned with the three main actors involved: the region, the company and the youngster.

Since the exchanges are funded by the regions themselves, they must reap benefits in the policy areas that the region aims to address (unemployment, integration, education, etc.). The region is also concerned with the beneficiaries (i.e. their companies) and take care in selecting sectors and types of companies that could most benefit from the traineeship.

Finally of course, the regions focus their attention and time on the young professionals they are receiving or sending. This ensures a quality match for the company and the trainee. As youngsters from less advantaged backgrounds are beneficiaries of the programme, special attention is paid to accompanying them in the preparation and planning of the mobility.

Mobility in Europe

What is at stake for mobility in Europe

The Centre for European Policy Studies summed up the key challenge in their special report:

“Mobility, which comes in many different shapes and forms, is one of the cornerstones of European integration. It is related to all parts of the fundamental freedoms set out in the Treaty of Rome: the free movement of people, capital, goods and services. […] While freedom of movement is one of the most celebrated, practical and visible rights stemming from EU integration, it is also a contested field that embodies a number of challenges. […] The risk has emerged in recent years that the broad public support for labour mobility is eroding – whether justified or not. This is a development that the Union can ill afford.” (source)

One key figure to remember about mobility in Europe: 3% of Europeans don’t live in the country they were born in

A common figure that usually pops up on the issue of the mobility of Europeans is the percentage of people living in another EU country other than the one they were born in. When asked if they thought that figure was 12%, 8% or 3%, all YRN members answered 12% or 8%, without exception. The reality is that only 3% of Europeans live in another country. Although this figure dates back a couple of years, it is recognised as a low number. From those 3%, the number the number of European working in another country is even lower. The 3% includes students, family members, job-seekers and pensioners.

In their study, Mikkel Barslund, Matthias Busse and Joscha Schwarzwälder argue that “the prevailing view in academic circles and among policy-makers is that intra-EU labour mobility is too low; too low to support the single labour market as anything but a notion and too low to play anything other than a modest role in helping to rebalance the eurozone after the crisis”


Photo by Paulette Wooten on Unsplash

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The post Youth mobility: a policy that goes beyond employment appeared first on Assembly of European Regions.


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