Youth employment is and will be one of the major political issues for the EPP Group and the European Parliament. Urgent action was taken at the European level during the last legislative term with the adoption of the Youth Guarantee and the Youth Employment Package, to free up 8 and 6 billion euro respectively to reduce the number of young Europeans who are unemployed. But as we have always said: these initiatives can only be short-term and will not solve the general problem.
We believe that young entrepreneurs can provide a long-term and sustainable solution to Europe’s jobs crisis. Europe should support them by creating a better environment for entrepreneurship-driven growth. This support should come through investment, working on skills and cutting red tape.
Harnessing the growth and job potential of a European Digital Single Market
Entrepreneurs create jobs. European start-ups have even greater potential. Take the example of 29-year-old Christian Nielsen, CEO of Vidzor, an interactive video company. Christian is Danish but has his company based in London and Budapest.
I can proudly say that we have created more than 40 full-time jobs over the past 36 months Christian Nielsen
His story is a concrete example of how the European Digital Single Market can create real opportunities for businesses and people by expanding markets.
“Our headquarters in London has successfully gained traction in the US market, which we consider a key strategic market opportunity. In 2015 we wish to ride that wave by establishing a branch office in California.” These new markets and new opportunities can create a huge amount of jobs in Europe.
Indeed, a recent study on “Sizing the EU app economy” found that “the EU app-developer workforce will grow from 1 million in 2013 to 2.8 million in 2018. Additional support and marketing staff result in total app economy jobs of 1.8 million in 2013, growing to 4.8 million in 2018.”
The potential for job creation, in particular for young people, is gigantic. Just take Vidzor’s example: “I can proudly say that we have created more than 40 full-time jobs over the past 36 months,” says Christian Nielsen.
Fresh money to support entrepreneurs and job creation thanks to innovation
During the last legislative term, we secured new funding schemes with simplified rules for young entrepreneurs. Indeed, access to investment is one of the key elements to creating jobs on the start-up scene. With the Horizon 2020 programme and its SME Instrument, the EU has allocated more than 80 billion euro to supporting innovation and entrepreneurship. Fresh money to support entrepreneurs and job creation thanks to innovation.
However one of the key issues is access to proper information on the available funds.
As Christian puts it: “We are currently exploring the Horizon 2020 initiative and its opportunities (and challenges…).”
The funding is there. However, to ensure that real support for job creation through entrepreneurship exists, efforts must be made to increase easy acces to information on the funding available.
Improving young Europeans’ skills to respond to new technical needs
But is it only about money? Certainly not.
“Launching a successful start-up requires great talent and, as an entrepreneur/founder, it's one of your greatest and most important responsibilities to attract the best talent to your company,” says Christian.
Generally young people come with a strong academic background and specific theoretical knowledge. The missing link I see is the ability to turn that knowledge into action by applying it.
A real effort should be made to give young people the skills they need to respond to new technical requirements.
“Generally young people come with a strong academic background and specific theoretical knowledge. The missing link I see is the ability to turn that knowledge into action by applying it,” pursues Christian.
Cutting red tape to make it easier for start-ups
Another way of boosting youth employment is cutting red tape and creating a friendly environment for businesses.
“In my opinion, from a government perspective, it's all about creating an environment that fosters innovation. This means less regulation, less taxation. Making it easier and cheaper for start-ups to hire,” Christian tells us, when it comes to promoting a more entrepreneurial mind-set in Europe.
It's all about creating an environment that fosters innovation. This means less regulation, less taxation. Making it easier and cheaper for start-ups to hire.
With more than 5.3 million people under 25 who are unemployed in the EU, we need to offer more than short-term solutions.
Member States should implement what has already been agreed with the Youth Guarantee and the Youth Employment Package – this will help without any doubt.
However, we see a more sustainable solution to youth unemployment in the promotion of entrepreneurship, support for young entrepreneurs and working on developing skills for young people. Christian’s story has shown us the potential of youth entrepreneurship. It is now time to unlock it for real.