Hannes Swoboda in Lithuania: “We must invest in our young people to prevent a brain drain of our best talents”

Vilija Blinkevičiūtė, head of the Lithuanian delegation

The Socialists and Democrats called for more investment in young people and real opportunities for them to work in their countries of origin and thus not having the need to emigrate, whilst holding another of its Relaunching Europe events at the end of last week in Vilnius, Lithuania. 

The Relaunching Europe initiative, launched by the S&D Group in 2012, aims at entering into a dialogue with citizens and journalists all over Europe about the future of the EU.

On Thursday this week, 23 January 2014, the S&D Group will hold its next conference in Thessaloniki, Greece, focusing on the topic: “Ways out of the crisis”. For further information on the event in Greece and to follow the web streaming which will start at 18.30pm, please go to: http://www.relaunchingeurope.eu/

When speaking in Vilnius, Hannes Swoboda, S&D Group president, said:

“Youth unemployment has become one of the main problems that we face in Europe today. With one out of two young persons being without a job in some countries, joint action at EU level and in the member states is needed.

“Our Group has fought hard for the Youth Guarantee* for which the EU budget now foresees 6 billion Euros. This is a first step but more needs to be done. Member states have to take concrete measures so that these funds are actually implemented and used for the young people.

“Yet, the problem goes beyond the question of money and is a fundamental political question: We must change the macroeconomic policy whereby we end this austerity only policy and focus on growth and investment in people.

“In many European countries we see a mismatch between skills and training and the jobs that are offered. We must invest in the right education and training for the young so that they are better equipped to join the labour market and fill those vacancies that are available.

“Finding jobs is not only a European question – our youth must be educated in a way that they can also compete on an international level. But competition on the global level must not lead to Europe lowering its own social standards. Qualified labour based on clear social standards and minimum wages so that those working can lead a decent life – that must be our way forward. We will not support a race to the bottom where especially young people are exploited and not given any chance for the future.

Vilija Blinkevičiūtė, head of the Lithuanian delegation, concluded:

“Emigration of thousands of young Lithuanians outside of our country is a real problem.  We are losing our most talented. We must create conditions in Lithuania so that young people want to stay and can earn a decent living in their own country.

“We have to make real use of the funds offered under the Youth Guarantee and work closely together with the EU institutions. Yet, we must also do our homework in Lithuania itself by offering young people minimum wages and decent living standards. Investment in education and training must be our priority and improved in a way that it meets both the requirements of the labour market and the young people themselves.

Note to the editors:

*Under the EU Youth Guarantee, each young person aged 18-25 years, must be offered a training, internship or job 4 months after finishing education.