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There are varying ideas and thoughts about the effects and causes of Youth Unemployment in the world. The consequences of Youth Unemployment are not short lived; rather they create a sudden disorder in the society, prolonging a long-term effect. The impact will be felt rather with a “ripple effect” with very negligible start at one point, eventually loading with an extensive impact to the society, then to the nation and the globe in the long run. The issue of youth unemployment has been increasing throughout the last decade. However, the more glaring concern has been the rising number of unemployed youths with no training or education, leading to rising fears of a “lost generation” and a decline in social cohesion (Liotti 150). There are significant differences in youth unemployment rates in Europe; thus, no single labor market policy can be implemented throughout the United States (US) and European Union (EU) (Pastore). However, opportunities exist in mutual learning in combatting. This proposal analyzes youth unemployment and identifies apprenticeship as the best avenue for fighting this critical concern, focusing on Germany’s dual vocational training system as an example for other countries in the EU and internationally to follow and US.
More than a decade after the 2008 economic crisis, most developed economies globally are reeling from sluggish growth rates and high unemployment rates, particularly among the youth. The EU called for urgent action, and youth unemployment reached unprecedented levels in the various Member States. The overall debate regarding youth unemployment levels in the US and EU has focused on monetary and fiscal measures (Pastore). However, there is a need for a broad consensus to combat structural issues even though cyclical concerns can be addressed through macroeconomic policy.
One critical structural concern is a mismatch between the skills available among populations and those employers demand, especially among youth demographics (Akanle and Omotayo 165). Apprenticeship programs emerge as a potential solution in addressing this mismatch. In this regard, the EU has identified the need for promoting work-based training and high-level apprenticeships. However, in the US, with numerous people finding it hard to gain meaningful employment after graduating, the government and private sector have neglected to invest in apprenticeship programs as a possible solution in addressing youth unemployment. Nevertheless, promoting apprenticeship can be an invaluable tool in giving US and EU workers a competitive advantage and much-needed skills. One critical structural concern is a mismatch between the skills available among populations and those employers demand, especially among youth demographics (Akanle and Omotayo 165). Apprenticeship programs emerge as a potential solution in addressing this mismatch. In this regard, the EU has identified the need for promoting work-based training and high-level apprenticeships. However, in the US, with numerous people finding it hard to gain meaningful employment after graduating, the government and private sector have neglected to invest in apprenticeship programs as a possible solution in addressing youth unemployment. Nevertheless, promoting apprenticeship can be an invaluable tool in giving US and EU workers a competitive advantage and much-needed skills.
In analyzing countries with low youth unemployment, Germany stands out as an example of the value of apprenticeship. Other countries such as Switzerland and Austria have relied on apprenticeship policy to address the concern of youth unemployment. Advanced economies can benefit from expanding vocational training through apprenticeships, including increasing the likelihood of employment for youth not pursuing university degrees and providing the private sector with competitive and skilled labor forces (Protsch and Solga 387). Additionally, emphasizing apprenticeships would not be costly for states as they would share the costs of running apprenticeship programs with private enterprises.
Developing effective apprenticeship programs necessitate governments to formulate and implement legislation creating state-recognized apprenticeship programs and content, ensuring skills quality and transferability. Additionally, legislation must ensure apprentices receive a stipend and other employment benefits such as health insurance (apprentices often receive one-third of a regular employee’s wage in their sector). However, there is a need for revising minimum wage policies to exclude apprenticeship programs. Furthermore, the participation of private enterprises and labor unions is essential in ensuring apprenticeships succeed. Attracting these firms necessitates giving them considerable autonomy in formulating the on-the-job training components (Protsch and Solga 387). These firms can also be offered training subsidies and tax incentives when necessary. This proposal concerns only formal apprenticeships in advanced economies; developing countries maintain informal apprenticeships resembling medieval European apprenticeships, though they are prone to abuse.
Youth unemployment rates are significantly high in various advanced economies. The youth unemployment rate in the EU is at fourteen percent, with Greece, Spain, and Italy the EU countries with the highest youth unemployment rates at 31.4, 29.4, and 25.3 percent, respectively. The youth unemployment rate in the US, at 8.3 percent, is still high despite being better than most EU countries. Contrastingly, Germany and Czechia have emerged as two countries with low youth unemployment levels globally at 5.7 and 6.8 percent, respectively. Some scholars and policymakers have suggested high youth unemployment rates are a consequence of low youth labor force participation. The youth unemployment rate is a product of dividing the number of unemployed youths by the number of those in the labor force, that is, young people actively seeking jobs. The overall ratio appears inflated as most youths put off seeking employment until they complete their studies. In reality, despite this criticism being true, the young people in developed economies face complex labor markets, being considerably disadvantaged compared to youth in nations such as Germany (Protsch and Solga 387).
A skills mismatch between employers’ demands and youth capabilities is a significant part of youth unemployment. The 2008 economic crisis led to low growth and high unemployment, but the considerable shortage in skills has played a critical role in deteriorating competitiveness. The mismatch of skills in the EU has continued to increase in the last decade, with research showing every one of three workers being either under-or over-qualified. Skills mismatches are a critical structural concern in youth unemployment. In this regard, the Beveridge curve emerges as crucial supporting evidence; it is a graphical representation of the relationship between unemployment and job vacancies. If the curve shifts rightward, the implication is an increase in structural unemployment; countries such as the US and Spain have recently experienced rightward shifts. Contrarily, the curve has shifted leftward for Germany, implying decreasing structural unemployment (Protsch and Solga 387).
Educational attainment data also evidence the skills shortage. Countries such as Spain, Portugal, and Greece have subpar education rates, while Germany and the US excel in this regard (Verd et al. 4). Educational attainment statistics imply that some EU states face general labor force skills shortages, especially southern European states. This issue is critical as less educated individuals cannot compete in a globalized labor market demanding more advanced skills (Akanle and Omotayo 165). The US also shows signs of a skills mismatch despite its educational attainment metrics. Several surveys have suggested some positions in the US labor market remain unfilled because of a lack of personnel with the requisite skill. Some proponents have suggested a weak education and training system in the US is to blame.
With the unemployment rate in the US being high, it is surprising that data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates there are millions of unfilled job openings. This suggests that the US is also grappling with a skills mismatch between employers’ demands and available labor supply. In the EU, data shows low-skilled youth face higher unemployment rates than high-skilled youth. In countries such as Spain, low-skilled youth face an unemployment risk two times higher than high-skilled youth (Verd et al. 8). Compared to the EU, the difference between low- and high-skilled youth is starker in the US. Low-skilled youth face an unemployment risk over four times more than individuals who have attained a high school diploma. There is a need for education policies to deliver marketable skills if youth unemployment is combated.
Ensuring workers obtain the skills needed in the labor market is perhaps the most effective strategy to address structural unemployment (Cvecic and Sokolic 2060). Advanced economies need to ensure youth obtain marketable skills whether or not they pursue university degrees; this will stimulate skill-based economic growth, increasing economic productivity and chances of lifetime employment. In this regard, apprenticeships effectively imbue individuals with the requisite skills. Some studies conducted in the UK have shown employment chances significantly increase for individuals who have completed apprenticeship programs.
Thus, Germany emerges as an essential point of reference as it has a well-developed and long-standing history of apprenticeship. The country has successfully trained and employed its youth through its “dual” education system (Cahuc and Hervelin). German youth pursuing vocational training must participate in apprenticeship programs consisting of classroom instruction in vocational schools and firm-provided field training. Classes take one or two weekdays, with course work including federally agreed programs covering general and occupation-specific education. The other days are dedicated to on-the-job training, with specific firms, employment organizations, sector employers, and educational authorities collaborating to develop training programs. Apprenticeship programs span between two and four years based on profession. This system has been highly successful, with approximately 60 percent of apprentices employed by their training firm. Germany’s apprenticeship system offers programs in over 300 occupations: the service sector and industrial production respectively account for 60 and 40 percent of these programs.
Germany and several other countries with apprenticeship programs such as Austria target youth (under 25 years) for these programs. However, different EU countries have varying perceptions of apprenticeship programs. While all developed economies have implemented vocational training programs, most instruction occurs in classrooms in many of these nations. Thus, Germany’s dual-system education system encapsulates the value of apprenticeship programs, which emphasize workplace training and experience (Cahuc and Hervelin). While a cross-country comparison of apprenticeship definitions is cumbersome due to varying definitions between states, the application of a national apprenticeship definition reveals Germany and Austria with the most youth participation in apprenticeship programs. At the same time, Portugal and Greece have the lowest rates of youth participating in these programs. Regarding Spain, its apprenticeship program does not resemble the strict definition of an apprenticeship, but it has a classroom-based vocational program with some on-the-job experience.
There is broad evidence of empirical studies suggesting apprenticeship programs lead to better youth employment access than their vocational training counterparts. These studies, coupled with the popularization of Germany’s apprenticeship system, have motivated other developed economies to formulate and implement public policies to boost apprenticeship to foster youth employment (Cahuc and Hervelin). However, some entities have called this into question, suggesting not enough is known to support why apprentices may perform better as they begin their careers.
Opponents of apprenticeship systems assert these programs are more developed in fields and occupations with tight labor markets, making the disentanglement of the effects of apprentices’ potential specific skills from the occupation firms’ demands a problematic task. Thus, estimating apprenticeship’s impact on job access is difficult because of the possible selection of youth with particular skills as apprentices (Cahuc and Hervelin). Additionally, opponents suggest that apprentices’ higher employment rates could result from firms retaining their trainees. Further, they assert this retention does not mean these trainees have any added advantage in accessing employment opportunities in other firms. Thus, understanding whether apprenticeship fosters youth integration in the labor market necessitates understanding employers’ comparison of identical diploma graduates acquired either after vocational training or apprenticeship programs.
Opponents suggest there is no significant difference between the performances of vocational students and apprentices seeking employment outside their training firms. This assertion has exciting implications for public policy. If apprenticeship programs are designed to better match youth and labor market opportunities, policies should focus more on fostering collaboration between employee organizations, employment services, and education centers (Cahuc and Hervelin). This collaboration sets Germany apart from other EU member states and the US. Germany is the leader in fostering this collaboration, with considerable success in integrating youths into the labor markets.
In conclusion, youth unemployment in the US and the EU has become a glaring concern, and there is no evidence that this issue will dissipate easily or quickly. Contrarily, fiscal restraints and rigid labor markets make it likely the problem of youth unemployment will continue to solidify. The fallout of this process is concerning, with a significant portion of the youth facing the risk of becoming labor market outsiders. While the economic discrimination of affected youth and the exponential cost of unemployment is concerning, the effect on society is more damning.
As evidenced by Germany, modern apprenticeship programs address the concern of youth unemployment via firm-supported standardized vocational training and emphasis on contractual labor standards. Thus, governments, firms, and trade unions have increasingly championed modern apprenticeships. Modern European trade unions have become more vocal in their support for apprenticeship schemes despite past opposition. However, it is crucial to avoid the naivety of believing Germany’s apprenticeship system can be wholly implemented in other nations. Thus, individual countries should mold their apprenticeship systems based on their unique social, cultural, and economic conditions. Nevertheless, Germany’s system has some crucial attributes worthy of replication.
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