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News Overview 2014

"We Need an Immigrant-Friendly Culture"

Andreas Stoch, Minister of Education from the German state of Baden-Württemburg, discussed current issues related to youth unemployment in Europe with members of the scientific, government, and business communities at the Robert Bosch Stiftung. He called for German society to be more open to skilled workers from other EU nations.

"An entire generation of young people is stalling out just as the engine is starting up," said Ingrid Hamm, Chief Executive Officer of the Robert Bosch Stiftung, at the beginning of the discussion on the results of the study "Youth Unemployment in Europe." The focus of this study is on southern European countries, such as Spain, Italy, and Portugal, where young people are particularly suffering from employment issues. The study shows how the unemployment rate of young people in Europe has developed during recent years, cites the most important structural hurdles when entering the workforce, and – based on this information – puts forth general recommendations for action.

"Youth unemployment may not be a new phenomenon," emphasized Professor Hoger Bonin from the Center for European Economic Research, who presented the study’s key findings. "We just haven’t focused on it in quite a long time." The study revealed that successful youth employment strategies only work when everyone acts in concert – politics, business, local educational institutions, and ultimately the young people themselves.

"Youth unemployment is one of the most fundamental issues for Europe in our time," said Andreas Stoch, Minister of Education, Youth, and Sports in Baden-Württemberg. One of the study’s main demands is for increased mobility in Europe. Wolfram Leibe from Germany’s Federal Employment Office pointed out the deficits in this area: "In Spain, the rumor persists that Germany is only looking for skilled workers, not people." The labor markets are not yet sufficiently attuned to skilled workers from other EU nations. According to Stoch, "we need an immigrant-friendly culture and, as a society, more openness." However, with societal openness comes the danger of abusing labor mobility to decrease social standards. This is why reducing precarious working conditions is particularly important.

Ingo Thomas from Robert Bosch GmbH reported on one positive example: this year, the company has created 100 additional spaces in vocational training programs for affected young people – only half of which are for young people from Germany. The youths are supported with internships and language courses to integrate them and bring them together right from the beginning. The panelists all agreed that such programs must be closely monitored to prevent high drop-out rates. Cristina Rizzotti, chairwoman of the Partito Democratico in Germany, praised the newly established Welcome Centers as a step in the right direction. One of them opened its doors last week in Stuttgart. The goal of these centers is to provide local assistance to new citizens on matters such as entering the German workforce and society.