Education to employment: Getting Europe’s Youth Into Work

McKinsey & Company

The problem of youth unemployment in the European Union is not new. Youth unemployment has been double or even triple the rate of general unemployment in Europe for the last 20 years. The events of the past few years have dramatically exacerbated it, however: 5.6 million young people are unemployed across Europe, and a total of 7.5 million are neither being educated nor are they working.

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Getting Youth in the Door: Defining Soft Skills Requirements for Entry-level Service Sector Jobs


This report presents findings on the current soft skills training landscape within the service sector. The report includes what basic soft skills competencies are required for a diverse group of entry-level employees with varying levels of education and experience; where gaps in those skills exist; what the soft skills marketplace is offering; and where opportunities for further training exist.


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6.4.2 Adapt Value Chain Development to Incorporate Youth as Family Members, Farm Workers, Farmers, as Owners and Workers in Off-Farm Agri-Business Enterprises, and as Community Mobilizers and Leaders

Value chain development (VCD) can help farmers gain access to appropriate inputs, technology, and services, and to reach markets that provide a viable and improved income.   Rather than focusing on one group of farmers, the strategy is to increase competitiveness of particular crops as a whole, to expand opportunities for larger numbers of farmers.

6.4.1 Extend Livelihood Security and Economic Security for Orphans and Vulnerable Children to Launch Career Paths for Young People

Strategies to enhance food and economic security for orphans and vulnerable children are designed to benefit very poor people or economically stable people who are vulnerable to becoming poor, for example, because of HIV, conflict, natural disaster, etc. Services are targeted to orphan-headed households, or households with large numbers of orphans and vulnerable children. Best practice programs provide a “full package” of services that help families (re)establish farming, animal husbandry, or simple agri-businesses such as trading or basic food processing.

6.4 Youth, Agricultural Development and Food Security

Leverage proven agricultural development strategies like value chain development, private sector engagement, and social enterprise. Adapt proven agricultural development strategies, identifying roles and strategies more appropriate for young people. 

6.3.8 Outreach and Community Organizing with Rural Youth: 3 Key Strategies

Community organizing is a critical component to many agricultural and enterprise development strategies, and many such programs as well as workforce development initiatives rely on community organizations to get the word out to their target population.  The challenge is that young people are often not part of community organizations. A key constraint on including women and youth in value chain development, for example is that most value chain development program conduct outreach through existing structures of farmer organizations.

6.3.7 Apply Mainstream Scale-Up Strategies in Rural Areas

Reaching larger numbers of people (scale) is more daunting in rural areas, because of lower population density, lower infrastructure and communications, and a target population that is harder to serve because of multiple barriers to employment. Nevertheless, the same main strategies for reaching scale apply: 

6.3.6 Think Outside the Farm

Rural development is about more than agriculture and agriculture is about more than food production. In modern economies, only a small minority of workers is employed in food production, and these are the lowest paid workers in the economy. A larger portion of workers is typically employed in agri-business, but wages are still higher in other sectors.

6.3.5 Take a Gendered Perspective, Which is Even More Important in Rural Areas Where Traditional Cultures are More Deeply Embedded

Taking a gender perspective is even more important in rural areas, where traditional cultures can be more deeply embedded and, therefore, gender roles more fixed and limiting.  A gender perspective is important for programs specifically targeting girls and/or women, and for mainstream programs. In both cases, a gender perspective helps enhance overall program effectiveness, and improves outcomes for girls and women.

6.3.4 Match Goals with Target Group: Go for High-Impact, Transformative Opportunities When Possible, but More Modest Livelihood Strategies When Necessary

Opportunities generated in rural areas need to be high-impact or transformative if they are to counteract the “pull” of urbanization, for young people who have that option. Small-scale farming and rural, informal employment represent the lowest paid, least secure occupations in most countries.