Public Private Partnerships for skills development and Youth Guarantee

With 2022 being the European Year of Youth, the EU is placing particular emphasis on skills training for young people. Part of this effort includes the reinforced Youth Guarantee (YG), adopted in late 2020, which is aimed at bolstering youth in education or training, and reducing unemployment.

The YG requires collaboration between the public and private sectors. The ETF is supporting the YG process through a series of knowledge and practice sharing that support the YG design, implementation and monitoring in the EU and partner countries. The role of public private partnerships (PPPs) in skills development for youth was the subject of a webinar on Tuesday 1 March hosted by the ETF.

Siria Taurelli, a governance expert at the ETF, explained the concept and idea of PPPs, drawing on a 2020 ETF study to “better draw from reality and practice.”

PPPs are mechanisms that enable the coordination of actions and the definition of responsibilities between private and public stakeholders. Common elements are skills development, co-financing and the engagement of private or economic cooperators in the various stages of common activity, which includes implementation.

PPPs have been implemented in countries at different levels, ranging from a national coordinated policy to the more regional and local level. “We have found motivational skills is the number one reason partners are together. It could be due to an immediate shortage of skills but also due to motivation for more innovation,” said Taurelli.

To provide practical examples of how PPPs work in action, Marija Stojadinovic, Director of the Business Development Centre Kragujevac, talked about “Education To Employment (E2E) in Serbia”.

A non-profit, non-governmental centre founded in 2010, its activities are mainly focused on projects to empower local socio-economic development. Since 2017, the centre has been involved in over 50 projects with the support of over 100 entrepreneurs, SMEs and companies. Over 1,500 youth and other vulnerable groups have been supported, said Stojadinovic.

Services include providing individual career guidance, workshops, and meetings with employers and professionals in different careers. There are also work-based learning programmes and internships. “We are matching them with employers and providing them with different soft skills training,” explained Stojadinovic.

The centre provides a spectrum of services to companies, ranging from developing occupational profiles to developing curricula for on-the-job training and work-based learning programmes.

“We noticed from the field that companies are struggling to develop formal curriciulum and programmes, so it is important they receive this kind of support in the market from providers like us,” she said.

The centre has had notable success. As of autumn 2021, it has been involved in 66 work-based learning courses involving 640 trainees and 55 companies. “The most important figure is the employment rate of 72.3%,” said Stojadinovic.

At the other end of Europe, Anna Kahlson, Unit for Skill Supply and Lifelong Learning at the Swedish National Agency for Higher Vocational Education, talked about how the higher educational system collaborates with labour providers and market actors in the country.

Kahlson described Sweden’s system as not being a “PPP per se” but its “distinguishing feature is there is heavy industry and labour market involvement in the creation of the programme, in provision and steering. All are designed to meet labour market demands,” she said.

Each programme is managed by a board made up of three main stakeholders: education providers, students and companies. The representatives from the labour market are the majority of the board, while there is one student member to help develop curricula.

The Swedish system has proven successful in generating employment. Between 2017 and 2019, employment was 93%, but dropped to 87% in 2020. “We had a dip in 2020, which we believe is a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. This system is quite successful and we do believe one of the main success factors is strong collaboration with labour market actors and providers,” said Kahlson.

Nikola Vulic, Adolescent Development Officer at UNICEF Montenegro, described the UN agency’s work. One project is a skills building programme, focusing on reskilling and upskilling, and the school-to-work transition.

“Our social-emotional skills programme gives young people 21st century skills which are not taught in schools. It is developed according to similar programmes across the world, but developed for Montengero specifically,” he said.

Building up skills as well as awareness about labour market needs is crucial in Montenegro, where young graduates can typically wait 16 to 24 months for their first job. “A major issue is they know very little about what to expect in the labour market. There is not that much career guidance opportunitiess at schools,” he said.

UNICEF’s Opportunities programmes, which fits into the Youth Guarantee programme, offers practical experience to all high school sudents. The UNICEF Business Council is also involved.

Over the next five years, the plan is for every high school students to have a practical job internship or job shadowing before they graduate. “All our research shows this really improves their level of knowledge of the labour market, but also improves their chances to succeed in the 21st century,” said Vulic.

More information is available on the dedicated page about the event on the ETF's Open Space

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