Youth unemployment through much of Europe is at a very worrying high during these difficult times, with countries really struggling to find jobs for youngsters. Many countries are posting figures of around 25% unemployment levels for people under the age of 25 years and Spain has weighed in with a truly frightening 42%; these numbers must be seen as unacceptable and something really needs to be done. So perhaps we should look at countries like Germany and Denmark, who publish an impressive percentage of around ten percent to see what they are doing right and others are obviously not. The first thing that is extremely noticeable is apprenticeships.
Where many of the countries in Europe thought that the future lay away from the workplace and instead looked to the classroom to improve the employment chances of their youth, Denmark and Germany decided that the best way to keep the generations in the workplace was to place them in apprenticeships (Elevpladser is the term in Danish). This meant that they didn’t send the next generations of hairdressers to college and university to train them to become fully qualified experts in their chosen field. They put them into apprenticeships where they learnt how to become a professional whilst actually doing the job and when they qualified they had a job to continue in.
This might sound like a simple idea and you might be forgiven for wondering why more countries don’t adopt it. Certainly in Denmark, apprenticeships are considered pretty normal and the easiest and best way to start a rewarding career. You can start apprenticeships at just about any age for just about any job provided that you have the qualifications needed to make you eligible.
So if you want to be a plumber then you will probably be starting your new job straight away when you leave school at 16 years old, you will continue to learn your trade both at work and sometimes in the classroom for the next 2 or 3 years and then you will become qualified and maybe even take on some apprenticeships of your own, to repay others with the help that you have received.
The first and most obvious point that this corrects almost immediately is that people are trained only for the trades that require fresh employment. Rather than whole college classes of people being thrust into the workplace at the end of every year having qualifications for jobs that are few and far between, every person that takes an apprenticeship knows that there is a fully paid and rewarding career waiting for them when they have learnt their trade.
So everything from veterinary nursing to banking and building to graphic designing can benefit through the use of apprenticeships. The unemployment figures are there for everybody to see and these are proof that this should be the future way to get the youth into employment.
Finally it shouldn’t just be about the youth because sometimes we all need to change the road that we have chosen to take. You will also find that you are rarely too old to find apprenticeships in Denmark and if you are willing to learn whilst you work then you are a welcome addition to the workforce. What a bright and wonderful place to be this must be.