04.06.2012
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ESU joins in the fight against youth unemployment

BRUSSELS – The European Students’ Union (ESU) organised a roundtable on employability of higher education in  the European Parliament in Brussels on 29 May. With this event, ESU wants to including a wide range of perspectives to the starting project Student Advancement of Graduates Employability (SAGE).

While youth unemployment is reaching record high levels all throughout Europe, ESU, the alliance of 47 national unions of students, wants to significantly contribute to the question of how young people can become more employable.

The aims of SAGE project are to explore the impact of the European higher education reforms on how it contributes to enhancing both academic quality and relevance of education for the needs of society and labour market. On the other hand, SAGE is designed to strengthen the capacity of student representatives to take part in setting policy on European, national and regional levels on improving the employability of graduates.

The project combines policy research with active engagement of stakeholders from both national and European level and aims at capacity building of ESU membership, aiming to increase understanding of European integration in higher education and thus empowering stakeholder contributions to evidence based policy making.

Participants of the event were stakeholders of higher education, policy-makers, representatives of the EU member states, experts on the topic of employability and employment, representatives of the national and local unions of students and project partners of SAGE.

Welcoming words were given by Katarina Nevedalova (S&D) and Allan Pall (outgoing ESU Chairperson) while Dr. Anne Corbett (Visiting Fellow, European Institute, LSE) gave her input on different missions of higher education reflecting upon linkage between social mission and relevance of higher education.

Julie Fionda from the Commission’s DG Education and Culture Unit introduced the topic of the employability responsibility. Participants of the roundtable debated who is the most responsible for the employability development while sharing concerns about the low level of understanding among different higher education stakeholders, when it comes to defining and developing employability. The third discussion topic was introduced y Juuso Leivonen (Secretary General of the Association of Business Schools in Finland), tackling the key steps in relation to the relevance of higher education towards building a sustainable society.

After many years, ESU found itself in the middle of the ongoing discussion of employability, asking for more intensified institutional involvement in making higher education more relevant, combining non-formal, informal and formal education. The roundtable participants interpreted employability in many different ways, but agreed that a common idea of it should be reached and a common way towards the main aim of the higher education reform should be followed. They called for the empowerment of communication among higher education stakeholders with the enhanced understanding of each other and for the enhanced cooperation between higher education and the labour/economy markets with the progressive job creation and entrepreneurial actconclusions and recommendations of the roundtable discussion

Conclusions and recommendations of the roundtable discussion will soon be published at the ESU website. The project’s consultation seminar will be held in Cyprus in October 2012 and in 2013 national debates on employability will be held in Spain, Denmark, Hungary and Finland.

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