we must support ... efforts to rejuvenate the trade union movement for a strong future for workers and their unions
The European Year of Youth 2022 was a timely and welcome initiative. The crises of the last 15 years have left deep scars on society as a whole, but especially on the young generation.
While the European Year of Youth has succeeded in acknowledging the difficult situation of young people, it has done little to improve their situation in the labour market. A recent report on employment and social trends in Europe shows that those under 30 have still not recovered from the pandemic, that they continue to have difficulties entering the labour market or finding jobs that match their skills. The current cost of living and energy crisis exacerbate the situation. As young people are the most vulnerable to poverty and social exclusion (one in four) and often work in insecure and low-paid jobs, the loss of purchasing power and rising energy and food costs are a further blow to them.
Paradoxically, the permanent crisis that young people seem to be in is taking place against a backdrop of massive skills shortages. The digital and green transformation will only exacerbate the skills problem.
Against this background, industriAll Europe's new position paper shows that there are tools to improve the situation for young people. What is missing is the political will and awareness of the urgency to act. IndustriAll Europe calls for job security for young people and fairer opportunities. Unpaid internships or other exploitative practices must be banned. Young people need quality apprenticeships and access to lifelong learning programmes to manage the twin transition. Involving young workers in decision-making through social dialogue and collective bargaining will lead to more targeted youth policies. European and national policy makers, as well as employers and trade unions, must act to ensure that the young generation has access to quality jobs and is treated fairly.
IndustriAll Europe youth are also directing their demands to the trade union movement itself. The Youth Action Plan adopted in May 2022 calls for greater involvement of young trade unionists in their trade union organisations. The implementation of the plan is in full swing.12 national plans were developed by young members at a first workshop on this topic in June 2022 in Cluj, Romania. Work continued last week in Madrid, where the group met in a joint training event with the European Trade Union Institue, to share first achievements and develop new plans, as well as to start working on demands for a just transition from a youth perspective.
The youth working group is now looking at the upcoming industriAll Europe mid-term conference at the end of May in Thessaloniki, Greece. They want to use this important political event to make strong demands for better representation of young people in trade union structures.
Isabelle Barthès, industriAll Europe Deputy General Secretary responsible for youth, welcomed the commitment of the young trade unionists:
"We are impressed by how our youth group is strengthening its commitment with concrete actions that will lead to more young people joining trade unions and more young voices being heard in trade unions. We know we must support their efforts to rejuvenate the trade union movement for a strong future for workers and their unions."