Special foreword to EOSE book

 
Special foreword to EOSE book

By Androulla VASSILIOU, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth

 

Unemployment is Europe’s most serious challenge, with an average 11% of the active population of the 28 EU Member States out of a job. Young people in particular have been hit hard by the economic crisis. In 2013 the youth unemployment rate was 23.3% in the EU 28 – over 50% in some Member States and over 70% in some regions.
High unemployment has serious consequences not only for the individuals concerned but also for society and the wider economy. Long-term unemployment will intensify marginalization, leading to poverty and social exclusion. There are also serious risks to communities if non-involvement in the labour market leads large cohorts of young people to opt out of participation in society.
The seriousness of the youth unemployment issue requires effective action, including at EU level. This is why, in December 2012, the Commission proposed measures to help Member States tackle youth unemployment and social exclusion, the so called Youth Employment Package. Among other measures, it led Member States to agree on introducing the Youth Guarantee to ensure that all young people up to the age of 25 receive a quality offer for a job, continued education, an apprenticeship or a traineeship within four months of leaving formal education or becoming unemployed. In order to implement rapidly the youth guarantee, Member States are urged to establish strong partnerships with stakeholders, ensure early intervention by employment services and other partners supporting young people, take supportive measures to enable labour integration, and make full use of the European Social Fund and other structural funds. The European Union is also supporting Member States by promoting exchanges of good practice, monitoring implementation of Youth Guarantees in the European Semester exercise and raising awareness of the scheme.
To facilitate school-to-work-transitions, the Youth Employment Package also launched a consultation of European social partners on a Quality Framework for Traineeships so as to enable young people to acquire high-quality work experience under safe conditions.
Alongside the Youth Guarantee, the European Alliance for Apprenticeships brings together public authorities, business and social partners, VET providers, youth representatives and other actors to improve the quality and supply of apprenticeships available by spreading successful apprenticeship schemes across the Member States and by reducing obstacles to mobility.

I am convinced that sport, like other sectors, has a role to play when addressing the unemployment challenge, and we should take full advantage of this when implementing the proposed measures in the EU context. Through engagement in sport, young people attain specific personal and professional skills and competences which enhance employability. These include learning to learn, social and civic competences, leadership, communication, teamwork, discipline, creativity, entrepreneurship. Sport can also provide professional knowledge and skills in areas such as marketing, management, health, public safety and security. All these skills and competences actively support young people’s participation, development and progression in education and training, and their employability, in ways that are relevant and applicable to the labour market as well as valued and sought after by employers.

According to a recent EU-funded study on economic growth and employment in the EU, the share of sport-related value added in the EU amounts to 1.76%, while its share of employment in the EU is 2.12%. Taking account of its broader multiplier effects, sport added value is estimated at 2.98% of the overall EU total, a share which is comparable to the agriculture, forestry and fishing sectors combined. Sport, as a growing labour intensive industry, is a sector that has a high economic value which can provide good means to address youth unemployment problems.

Sport is increasingly gaining recognition as an issue of economic, social and political importance on the agenda of the European Union. This reflects, in particular, the new evidence delivered by EU studies and the first results of transnational projects in this field. In these projects, organisations such as EOSE have played an important role. However, challenges still exist in a sector where the potential has not yet been fully determined, in particular when it comes to translating social and educational values into concrete actions. I share the views of experts who believe that the modernisation of the education system in the field of sport should be driven by the demands and needs of the sport and active leisure sector, a growing sector with increasing international dimensions. It is obvious that these demands are no longer limited to techniques and tactics in a certain sport. The social dialogue in sport, guided by the expertise of a future Sectoral Skills Alliance, supported by the Erasmus+ programme, could support this process.

I trust that the modernisation of the sport education system will also encourage further cooperation between formal and non-formal education providers regarding sport qualifications. It will hopefully lead to a cost effective and high quality sport education system in which the positive aspects of both systems (drawing on learning on the job and evidence-based theories on coaching and management in sport) complement each other.
The National Qualification Frameworks which refer to the European Qualification Framework will form a solid basis for this cooperation and for the validation and recognition of non-formal and informal learning experiences in sport. However, this recognition, which will facilitate a smoother entry to the labour market or further studies, needs to be backed up by a quality assurance system. The latter, for example, is often missing from education systems of sport federations or specific training institutes.
Although the European Commission’s competence in the field of sport is still new, there is already proof that transnational cooperation on an EU level can support the further internationalisation in the world of sport with growing mobility of athletes and workers. We will ensure that the new Erasmus+ Programme gives support to projects driving these developments for the years to come.

 

Note: This contribution was first published as official Foreword to EOSE book entitled “Sport: linking education, training and employment in Europe – an EOSE network perspective” and published in July 2014 by the Presses Universitaires de Louvain.

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EOSE – European Observatoire of Sport and Employment

A new wave for the sport and active leisure sector

Ensuring the right skills in the right place

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