18th Mar 2018

Young Europeans lack job skills, US consultancy says

  • Anti-austerity protesters: One in two young people in Spain cannot get a job (Photo: M. Martin Vicente)

Europe's young people lack the skills for work despite record levels of unemployment, according to a report by the US-based consultancy giant McKinsey

In its study, "Education to Employment," published on Monday (13 January), McKinsey said one in three firms feel that a lack of skills among Europe's youth posed major business problems, in the form of cost, quality, or time.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Meanwhile, 27 percent reported that they had left a vacancy unfilled over the past 12 months because they could not find anyone with the right skills.

Mckinsey surveyed more than 5,000 young people, 2,600 employers, and 700 higher education teachers across eight EU countries.

The list includes Germany and Sweden, which have some of the lowest jobless rates in the EU, as well as crisis countries Greece, Portugal and Spain.

Youth unemployment rates in Greece and Spain have tipped 50 percent. Overall, 24 percent of 16-24 year olds across the EU are not in work, training or education.

However, the report found that businesses in crisis countries reported the biggest problems, with 47 percent and 45 percent of Italian and Greek firms saying that a lack of skills is harming their interests.

The report argues that students are put off studying by the cost of living and a perceived bias against vocational courses. It also says that they struggle to make the transition from studying to work.

It calls for universities and colleges to break up degree or vocational programmes into individual modules that focus on building a particular set of skills while still counting toward a degree or formal qualification.

For their part, governments and banks should offer low-interest loans to students pursuing courses that lead towards a job, or set up schemes allowing young people to repay loans in the form of services, such as teaching other students.

The growing skills gap comes as labour markets move towards high-skilled jobs. A study for the European Commission in 2012 found that by 2025, 44 percent of employed people in the EU will be in a highly-skilled job, while only 11 percent of jobs are expected to be low-skilled ones.

Launching the report in a speech Monday (13 January), EU education commissioner Androulla Vasiliou said that the EU executive was "doing its utmost" to help countries overcome the skills gap.

She added that the commission initiative to establish a "European Area for Skills and Qualifications" would help ensure that qualifications and competences were recognised across the bloc.

EU leaders have also agreed to set up youth guarantee schemes from next year, backed by €8 billion from the EU budget to offer training or a job within four months to people in regions where youth unemployment is above one in four.

EU leaders pledge €2bn extra for youth scheme

EU leaders meeting in Berlin pledged an extra €2 billion for a youth employment scheme and said the European Investment Bank will lend €6bn each year to help small companies hire young people.


Brexit and trade will top This WEEK

A crucial EU summit will decide whether to give a green light to the Brexit transition period, while the EU is also fighting to get exemptions from the new US steel and aluminium tariffs.


Four years on – but we will not forget illegally-occupied Crimea

Together with many other partners, including the United States, Canada and Norway, the European Union has implemented a policy of non-recognition and sanctions regimes, targeting people and entities that have promoted Russia's illegal annexation.

Evacuated women from Libya arrive newly-pregnant

Niger has temporarily stopped all evacuations from Libya detention centres under an EU funded programme because so few are being resettled to Europe. Many of those that have been evacuated are pregnant, with some asking for HIV testing.

News in Brief

  1. Sweden emerges as possible US-North Korean summit host
  2. Google accused of paying academics backing its policies
  3. New interior minister: 'Islam doesn't belong to Germany'
  4. Hamburg 'dieselgate' driver wins case to get new VW car
  5. Slovak deputy PM asked to form new government
  6. US, Germany, France condemn 'assault on UK sovereignty'
  7. MEPs accept Amsterdam as seat for EU medicines agency
  8. Auditors: EU farm 'simplification' made subsidies more complex

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceConmtroversial Turkish Azerbaijani Gas Pipeline Gets Major EU Loan
  2. World VisionSyria’s Children ‘At Risk of Never Fully Recovering', New Study Finds
  3. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMeets with US Congress Member to Denounce Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  4. Martens CentreEuropean Defence Union: Time to Aim High?
  5. UNESDAWatch UNESDA’s President Toast Its 60th Anniversary Year
  6. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Condemns MEP Ana Gomes’s Anti-Semitic Remark, Calls for Disciplinary Action
  7. EPSUEU Commissioners Deny 9.8 Million Workers Legal Minimum Standards on Information Rights
  8. ACCAAppropriate Risk Management is Crucial for Effective Strategic Leadership
  9. EPSUWill the Circular Economy be an Economy With no Workers?
  10. European Jewish CongressThe 2018 European Medal of Tolerance Goes to Prince Albert II of Monaco
  11. FiscalNoteGlobal Policy Trends: What to Watch in 2018
  12. Human Rights and Democracy NetworkPromoting Human Rights and Democracy in the Next Eu Multiannual Financial Framework

Latest News

  1. Brexit and trade will top This WEEK
  2. Dutch MPs in plan to shut EU website on Russian propaganda
  3. Four years on – but we will not forget illegally-occupied Crimea
  4. Evacuated women from Libya arrive newly-pregnant
  5. Merkel in Paris for eurozone reform talks
  6. Commission rejects ombudsman criticism over Barroso case
  7. Western allies back UK amid Russian media blitz
  8. Meet the European Parliament's twittersphere