Professional Mobility to boost employment in Euro-Med
How to tackle unemployment in the Euro-Mediterranean Area?
The aim of this work is to identify recommendations for improving the synergy of the program within the 2014-2020 framework. It is structured in three main sections. In the first section we will compare economic data and statistics on youth unemployment in Greece, Italy, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine and Portugal. Then, we will take into account those needs expressed by a changing labour market, with reference to abilities and skills that young workers should acquire in order to get access to it. Finally, we will mention some authoritative statements made by international organisations about the recognition of soft skills, and the positive impact generated by mobility projects on youth employability.
The 2007-2008 financial crisis has seriously damaged the global labour market situation, with an alarming increase of youth unemployment rate. The conventional measure of “youth” refers to the age group 18-24, and we want to draw particular attention on this specific target group because, in a few years, they could face the same difficulties that “young adults” have been facing since the crisis erupted.
Capacity Building Relay Race – CaBuReRa (www.caburera.org) is a 1.680.000 million Euro project and it is financed, for an amount of 1.512.000 million Euro (90 %), by the European Union (ENPI CBC Mediterranean Sea Basin Programme) through the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument1.
CaBuReRa aimed at promoting the collaboration among Mediterranean territories by offering mobility and professional development opportunities to young people. The project involved 85 people (29 youth workers – TG1 – and 56 young unemployed – TG2) from partners’ country offering them the opportunity to live a professional experience abroad. They have been hosted by partners’ organisation and provided with training in: project cycle management; foreign language; management of projects with local organisations; etc. Thus, the participants have worked with experienced organisations active at Euro-Mediterranean level in an international work environment developing technical skills on project management, mediation skills and intercultural competences. At the same time, the project have supportd the development of civil society organisations and public authorities promoting networking both at local and international level.
Youth unemployment in CaBuReRa countries
During the last trimester of Capacity Building Relay Race project implementation, we have been gathering official data about youth unemployment rates in the countries involved, in order to provide a recommendation paper with a general overview on the statistic trends. From the methodological point of view we have decided to refer to modeled ILO estimation. In 2015, the worst unemployment rate was the Greek one (27%), followed by Portugal (15.3%), Italy (12.7%), Jordan (12.6%) and Lebanon (7.1), meanwhile in Palestine the unemployment rate in Gaza Strip was 41.5% compared with 15.4% in the West Bank in the 2nd quarter of the same year.
It is interesting to notice that the crisis apparently struck more the European than the Arab countries. From 2005 to 2015, Italian unemployment rate has increased from 7.7% to 12.7%, while the Portuguese one from 7.6% to 15.3; in ten years Greek rate has even triplicate from 9.8% to 27%. Comparing these trends to those of the Arab countries, we can see that Lebanon has reduced its rate from 8.2% to 7.1%, and Jordan from 14.9% to 12.6%; instead of West Bank & Gaza, where the unemployment rate increased from 23.6 to 25.3.
Looking at youth unemployment rates, the situation seems to be much more worrying. In 2013 Greece had the highest youth unemployment rate in the world (58.4%), followed by Spain (57.3%) and South Africa (53.6%). Italy, West Bank & Gaza, and Portugal, were collocated in a second risk band, but not less serious, with a percentage of 39.7%, 38.3% and 37.8%, respectively; then Jordan with a rate of 33.7%, and Lebanon with a rate of 20.6%.
According to these figures, it is quite evident that young people are generally more affected by the crisis, in Lebanon too, where the unemployment situation seems the most positive one even comparing it with global rates. In fact, in the external labour market young workers may be less efficient in job search activities than adults. Younger workers are likely to have fewer contacts and less experience finding a job, placing them at a relative disadvantage compared to adults. They may also find themselves in an experience trap, where employers select workers with experience, and as a result, labour market entrants are never hired and cannot increase their own experience. On the supply side, youth are less likely to have significant financial commitments than their elders. And their parents may be willing to support them. Such factors may create an incentive to restrict their job search activity, leading to higher rates of unemployment. The outcome is that young people face more difficulties in finding a job rather than adults.
There are other factors that must be taken into account for Middle Eastern countries. As pointed out by Zafiris Tzannatos, senior regional adviser at the International Labour Organisation (ILO), “high youth unemployment rates have to do with a certain population dynamic – a high fertility rate that’s often known as the youth bulge”, which is considered by many analysts as a cause for economic and political volatility. This is particularly true in Palestine, where youth comprises one third of society, and stronger Palestinian institutions are required in order to face youth unemployment.
For what concerns European countries, with the financial crisis that hit in 2008 and all the austerity measures that were applied to reduce government deficit and public debt, the numbers of unemployed youth has been steadily growing. This growth aligns with the beginning of the austerity programs installed in particular by the Portuguese and Greek government.
However, as of 2014 the rates of the EuroMed area have been slowly declining. This decline is a reflection of the global trend which in matters of youth unemployment is also decreasing. The decreasing means that the world’s economy is recovering from its financial crisis, because of which Mediterranean countries already suffered a lot. According to ILO projections, in 2019 the unemployment rate should decrease in every country, with best performances in Greece (-6.7%) and Portugal (-5%); in Jordan (-1.6%), West Bank & Gaza (-1.3%) there will be little improvements, while in Italy (-0.5%) and Lebanon (-0.1%) the situation should be quite the same. And it is plausible to think that these improvements will be reflected on youth unemployment, but only under certain conditions.
A changing world labour market
It has been ascertained that in most of the cases the main cause of youth unemployment is the lack of coherence between the post-secondary schooling sector, and business and industry needs. Youth lack the necessary non-cognitive skills (language, teamwork, problem solving, etc.) that are necessary for any sort of working environment. This is why in recent years the European Commission has put growing emphasis on the validation of non-formal and informal learning, in order to provide and recognize the full range of an individual’s knowledge, skills and competences, regardless of whether they are acquired within or outside the formal education system. A recognition that has also been supported by the same beneficiaries of the international mobility projects.
The first goal for the EU in 2020 is “Employment” because “investment in human capital is money well-spent”, given that education and training have an important role in fostering inclusion and equality.
According to the Priority Areas and Concrete Issues outlined by the European Commission for ET 2020, we can see that transversal skills, digital, entrepreneurship and linguistic competences, are acquiring more and more importance, and institutions are becoming more conscious of the labour market needs. These guidelines also represent priorities for the international cooperation sector.
Employment is one of the stated priorities of the neighborhood policies with the Mediterranean, especially after the reforms carried out during the first semester of 2011, and in response to the political change processes in the region; the above-mentioned reforms are significant because are linked to two phenomena of particular concern to the Union, namely immigration and political stability in neighboring countries. The creation of decent jobs and employment policies, have received less attention despite acknowledgment that employment is the main economic and social challenge. This aspect should emerge as the centerpiece of action plans and cooperation projects, including in all cases a systematic assessment of their impact on employment.
In fact, through its European Neighborhood Policy (ENP), the EU works with its southern and eastern neighbors to achieve the closest possible political association and the greatest possible degree of economic integration. This goal builds on common interests and on values — democracy, the rule of law, respect for human rights, and social cohesion.
The ENP is a key part of the European Union’s foreign policy.
Partner countries agree with the EU an ENP action plan or an Association Agenda demonstrating their commitment to democracy, human rights, rule of law, good governance, market economy principles and sustainable development. The EU supports the achievement of these objectives.
- financial support – grants worth €12 bn were given to ENP-related projects from 2007 to 2013
- economic integration and access to EU markets – in 2011 trade between the EU and its ENP partners totalled €230bn
- easier travel to the EU – 3.2 m Schengen visas were issued to citizens, and in particular to students from ENP countries in 2012
- technical and policy support
The EU also supports the civil society which plays an important role in bringing about deep and sustainable democracy in partner countries (http://eeas.europa.eu/enp/pdf/financing-the-enp/cbc_2014-2020_programming_document_en.pdf?).
Some important measures have already been taken through the implementation of relevant projects, related to youth especially unemployed, within the ENPI framework, like MedGeneration, EGREJOB, Daedalus MED-MOBIL, PR.I.ME, R.E.A.D.Y. MED. FISH., CaBuReRaitself, and other actions within the EuroMed framework. Mobility in fact is becoming an essential part of youth education. Opportunities to do a mobility experience keep rising as the world becomes global. With the unemployment issue faced by many countries, youth is pressured to “move” if they want to become more appealing to future employers.
There are many results for participating in a youth mobility project both personally and professionally. Participants often find themselves in different countries with different cultures and environments. This helps them, not only to deal with different types of people and challenging situations, but also to improve their self-awareness. Often participants mention improvements of their self-confidence and how their experience helped them to become more independent, flexible and adaptable. The fact that within these experiences the participants are encouraged to build and create new relations, the social and human skills are developed and normally at the end participants are more receptive to team work, to be the change in their communities, feeling more empowered to take risks or chances. The skills and competences mentioned above will be an asset to find the job they really want, as well as an added value for their professional and life experiences.
Organisations believe that international experience is an added value when it comes to recruit young employees, providing the candidate with innovative skills and aptitudes that make him/her able to quickly adapt to changing and multicultural contexts. Nowadays, the multicultural adaptability is understood as a desirable requirement and youth mobility projects give the chance to those that are involved in it to build this capacity in a profound way.
According to a research report made by MOB-G.A.E. and co-funded by the Lifelong Learning Programme of the European Union about the impact of a mobility experience, 37% of the participants in the study found their experience useful in obtaining a job, and 45% said it was useful within their professional activity.
On a professional level, the improvement of language skills was the most mentioned impact with 80% of the participants of the study referring to it, but they also identified three main types of impact related to professional development:
- The awareness that the mobility experience helped to develop an international professional profile, adding valuable elements to the CV.
- Impact on self-confidence and self-awareness, particularly related to awareness of one’s own ways of working.
- Acquisition or improvement of general skills like: planning, organising or team-working, but also skills and knowledge related to a specific profession
Participants also consider that their mobility experience helped them to obtain more practical skills and understanding of the working world and its complexity, offering them a first opportunity for engaging in real work, applying things they learned during their studies. The QS Global Employer Survey Report 2011 concluded that 60% of the employers value an international study experience or actively seek it when recruiting
Based on the attributes and characteristics gained through an international mobility experience, most employers place more value on language skills and intercultural communication.
Mobility programs as a partial solution to tackle youth unemployment
To help young people to keep up with new needs of global labour market, the European Commission has been working on issues concerning skills and their acquisition. It is increasingly evident that non-formal and informal learning play a crucial role in providing young people with so-called soft skills. This is by now well-acknowledged; there have been many official declarations, statements, report conducted by international organisations that confirm that non-formal education can be a partial solution to tackle youth unemployment. Amongst them there are the guidelines published by UNESCO; the resolution ‘Youth in the Global Economy’, adopted by the 62nd General Assembly of the United Nations in 2007; the OECD has also emphasised the importance of non-formal learning in a major research project that identifies economic, educational and social benefits from its recognition. For what concerns European Union, it has been a key-player in the area of non-formal education in particular during the laste decade, for its economic, as well as, social benefits.
The reason is confirmed in the “Study on the impact of Non-Formal Education in youth organisations on young people’s employability”, published by the European Youth Forum. The survey states that employers rank soft skills very highly, compared to technical skills, providing a hierarchy of the soft skills that are more often valued by employers (communication, organisational and planning skills are the most mentioned). And the best environment where is possible to acquire such soft skills, is the educational field which combines formal with non-formal and informal activities.
However, another relevant trend stands out within the same survey. On the one hand, young people have acquired skills related to international work thanks to their participation to projects realized by using non-formal approaches; on the other hand, some employers interviewed stated that often young people hardly ever include these experience in their CV, motivational letter or even during a job interview. It seems that “young people are sometimes not even aware of what the experience has given them”. And this is mainly due to a lack of self-awareness regarding the importance of soft skills (communication skills, team-working skills, adaptability and flexibility, self-confidence and intercultural skills), as a consequence of a relative miscommunication between institutions and young people.
Another factor that must be highlighted, is the fact that despite of its commitment on the issue, recognition of non-formal education still represents a purpose for European Union. At the beginning of 2014 European Commission launched a youth guarantee scheme to tackle youth unemployment, but as ILO points out, the financial support remains inadequate: 3 billion euro of funds are being deployed over a three-year period, less than 0.05% per cent of European GDP.
Youth unemployment is probably the most urgent challenge the international institutions must put as a priority in their agenda. In fact, if it is true that employment is a key-factor for strengthening social cohesion, it is likewise true that unemployment is one of the key-factor that cause the social break-up. In the times we are living in, young people generally perceive uncertainty, due to the inability of the society to guarantee them a future. It is not a coincidence if many criminals and terrorist organisations make leverage on this generational conflict to recruit new members. During his speech at the 2013 Giffoni Film Festival, Roberto Saviano stated that in Italy camorra and mafia invest more money that the State itself.
In the second section of this paper, we have claimed that the world’s economy is recovering from its financial crisis, with a reduction of youth unemployment rates. But it is important to point out that “recovering” does not necessarily mean “resolution”, and that “better than before” does not necessarily imply “good”.
According to data and sources collected, we believe that mobility projects based on the acquisition of soft skills, are not a panacea for youth unemployment in the world, but it is reasonable to affirm that they better respond to the current needs expressed by the labour market. Non-formal activities, lifelong learning programs, learning-by-doing approach, and generally speaking, all those methodologies which aim is to empower youth people, currently represent the best link to connect youngsters with labour market, with an undeniable positive impact on youth employability.
Starting from the experience acquired through the CaBuReRa project implementation, we elaborated these following recommendations in order to provide to stakeholders, ENI CBC MED Committee and European Commission with concrete suggestions for improving youth mobility programs as a tool to tackle youth unemployment:
- Emphasis should be given on the recognition of non-formal learning and informal learning skills gained during the mobility programmes activities, if it is possible, in line with the European or national qualifications frameworks.
- Apart from workings skills, special attention should be given to the development of interpersonal and communication skills, social competences, as well as of cultural sensitivity and diversity skills and intercultural skills acquired during the stay in another country.
- Many young people are not aware of the existing mobility programmes; so these programmes have to be better advertised and promoted, with a special emphasis on the success stories coming from such opportunities.
- The mobility programmes should also involve more specific groups of young people, for example, those who are long-term unemployed or unskilled young workers, young people from vulnerable social groups, young people with disabilities, or young people from areas/ regions which are affected by high unemployment.
- More awareness should be raised at local level and more information about the mobility programmes, along with motivations, should be provided to local organisations, local authorities and stakeholders and local communities, so as to get involved in the mobility programmes carried out in their areas.
- Administrative procedures should be simplified, facilitating thus cooperation and communication among ENI CBC MED, organisations and participants to the mobility programmes.
- More specific information about the mobility programmes should be given to Embassies and relevant national authorities, so as to facilitate the emission of Visa for participants to the mobility programmes as well as their stay abroad during the mobility programme.
- More local institutions, civil society organisations should strengthen their role in tackling youth unemployment, maybe increasing the chances for youngsters to do an internship with the possibility of employment at its end.
- More specific information and specific call for mobility projects should be published in order to allow young people to participate to these projects ad having the chance to do a learning experience abroad.
- More opportunities for mobility projects should be provided by the ENI CBC MED and other EU programmes, in order to allow young people to do a working learning experience abroad that would help them to enter to the labour market.
Special mention should be given to the new programming period and how the recommendations are related to the priorities of the new ENPI Programme.
Furthermore, we suggest Institutions to focus on theirs actions to support us to enhance the recommendation listed above.
In conclusion we can affirm that the international mobility experience can be considered as a new non formal education opportunity for people to gain new experience and new personal and professional skills and thus to promote their social and professional carrier. Thus, we have conducted a survey among the participants of CaBuReRa project in order to analyse and demonstrate how many have found a job after their participation in the mobility experience.
The data show that 16 of 20 TG1 interviewed have found a job within 3-6 months after their participation in the mobility experience, while 27 of 42 TG2 interviewed have found a job within 1-3 month after the end of the local internship. The others TG1 and TG2 are involved in other training activities or are looking for others mobility opportunities.
So participating in a mobility experience is a concrete, real and enriching tool for the young people, who will all acquire expertise, knowledge, and experience.
- EU joint report of the Council and the Commission on the implementation of the Strategic Framework for European cooperation in education and training (ET 2020)
- EU Multiannual Financial Framework 2014-2020;
- ENP Progress Reports (from 2016 on);
- EUROSTAT data related to youth unemployment (yrs: 2016/2020);
- Eurobarometer periodical reports/surveys;
European project writing and management
- EACEA “Helping you grow your project”:
- Twinning – Council of European Municipalities and Regions:
- EU website:
- EC website:
- EACEA website:
- DG EAC website:
- DG Development and cooperation website:
- Search for Common Ground organisation:
- European Employment Strategy Mutual Learning Programme:
- ILO report – eurozone job crisis:
- Youth Guarantee by country:
- Eurofound report on youth unemployment:
- Youth Employment Initiative:
- Report on Measures to Combat Youth Unemployment in Portugal:
- Tackling the jobs crisis in Portugal:
Starting from 2014, the European Neighbourhood Instrument (ENI) has replaced the European Neighbourhood Partnership Instrument (ENPI). The ENI will run until 2020 providing the framework and bulk of funding for the relations between the European Union (EU) and Partner Countries under the renewed European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP). Besides bilateral and multi-country programmes, support will be granted through cross-border cooperation of which the new ENI CBC “Mediterranean Sea Basin” Programme is part.
 Eurostat officially categorize a person’s labour force using three different status: employed, unemployed or economically inactive. For more information: Eurostat – Statistics Explained, Youth Unemployment: http://goo.gl/ghkhXk.
 The general standard is given by the International Labour Organisation, which considers only persons within an age range of 18-24 in youth unemployment statistics. For more information: International Labour Organisation, Youth Employment: http://goo.gl/d3Cw2.
 In fact, there is a strong case for arguing that the labour market experience of “young adults” aged 25-29 in recent years is quite similar to that of youth aged 18-24 during the Great Recession: this seems appropriate because these individuals in their late twenties were 19-23 in 2008 when the recession hit.
 Youth unemployment rate for 2014-2015 is still undocumented; in 2013 the general unemployment rate was at 27.6% in Greece, 16.9% in Portugal, 12.6% in Jordan, 12.2% in Italy, and only 6.6% in Lebanon.
 For what concerns Italy, there is a further consideration to be done regarding at the economical divide between North and South, which is stronger than in other countries. “Between 2001 and 2014, the cumulative growth rate in Greece was -1.7%. This was the most negative performance in the entire euro zone, but wasn’t nearly as negative as that of Southern Italy: -9.4% against +1.5% of the Centre-North”. And the impact is clearly reflected on the unemployment rate. “There is a specific alarm for women (only 20.8% work compared to the EU average of 51%) and for young people: between 2008 and 2014, the South lost 622,000 jobs for those under 34 (-31.9%) while it gained 239,000 for those over 55”. Source: Perrone M., Italy 24 – by Il Sole 24 Ore, July 31, 2015: Cyclical crisis might turn into “permanent underdevelopment” for Italy’s South, report says: http://goo.gl/q34sZF. For a more detailed analysis: SVIMEZ – Associazione per lo sviluppo del Mezzogiorno, Rapporto Svimez 2015 sull’economia del Mezzogiorno: http://www.svimez.info/index.php?lang=it.
 “The percentage of Youth represents 30.0% of the total population in Palestine: 38.1% of them are adolescents aged (15-19) years and 61.9% are youth aged (20-29) years. The sex ratio among youth is 104.2 males per 100 females, while the estimated population in Palestine totalled 4.55 million in mid-2014”. For more information: State of Palestine – Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS), The Eve of International Youth Day, Aug 12, 2014: http://goo.gl/ke2lKu.
 European Commission, COMMUNICATION FROM THE COMMISSION TO THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT, THE COUNCIL, THE EUROPEAN ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COMMITTEE AND THE COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS – Draft 2015 Joint Report of the Council and the Commission on the implementation of the Strategic framework for European cooperation in education and training (ET2020) – New priorities for European cooperation in education and training, August 2015, p.2: http://goo.gl/H3G8Uf.
 Ibidem, p.10.
 However, this is not a new trend, but a specific strategy adopted by European institutions in line with what was declared by the Council of the European Union in 2009. For more information: Council conclusions of 12 May 2009 on a strategic framework for European cooperation in education and training (‘ET 2020’): http://goo.gl/uzTg6T.
 One of the biggest challenges of the cooperation area is to create economic opportunities and jobs to reduce high rates of unemployment: the thematic objective entitled ‘Business and SMEs development’ seeks to positively contribute to this situation through the support to start-up enterprises and the enhancement of Euro-Mediterranean value chains and clusters. Diversification of tourism into new segments and niches is also part of this first objective. http://www.enpicbcmed.eu/enicbcmed-2014-2020/the-eni-cbc-med-programme
 The total budget for Euro-Mediterranean GREen JOBs is € 1,763,959: http://www.enpicbcmed.eu/sites/default/files/egrejob.pdf.
 Euro-meDiterranean cAreer & Employment aDvisor portAl for the mobiLity of yoUng residentS has a total budget of € 1.939.414: http://www.enpicbcmed.eu/sites/default/files/daedalus.pdf.
 Supportive international approach to increase and improve the mobility and exchange programs for young people in the Mediterranean financial support is € 1.560.000: http://www.enpicbcmed.eu/sites/default/files/med-mobil.pdf.
 The total budget for PRomoting Intergenerational learning in MEditerranean countries is € 819.071: http://www.enpicbcmed.eu/sites/default/files/prime.pdf.
 Requalification of Employment and Diversification for Youth in the Mediterranean has a total budget of € 1.534.291: http://www.enpicbcmed.eu/sites/default/files/readymedfish.pdf.
 Capacity Building Relay Race financial support is € 1.680.000: http://www.enpicbcmed.eu/sites/default/files/ca.bu_.re_.ra_.pdf.
 “In today’s global economy, where complexity and change are the norm, attracting and retaining culturally competence talent will continue to be a challenge for companies. International experience has become a critical asset for all global organisations and will continue to create a competitive advantage – both for the individuals and for the companies that hire them.” Laure Bennhold-Samaan, as cited in Tillman M., On the Linkage of International Experience and Student Employability, p.31: https://goo.gl/g156GB.
 Ibidem, p.21.
 Ibidem, p.10.
 “Since the forms of non-formal education are indispensable elements of the lifelong learning process, which is focused on the acquisition and upgrading of professional knowledge, skills and abilities, the need for motivating people to participate in various forms of non-formal learning has become a reaction to the demands of modern societies, upbringing and educational systems”. Perin V., Brčić M.K., Lifelong Learning and Employability – the Role of Non-Formal Education, Andragoška spoznanja, 2014, 20 (4), 39–48, p. 9.
 The resolution recognizes the important role of non-formal education in achieving the Millennium Development Goals and asks Member States to ensure sufficient funding for non-formal education. United Nations, Resolution 66/121 Policies and programs involving youth, February 2012: http://goo.gl/5OXzgP.
 “Although employers want young recruits to obey to the rules, at the same time they also want them to be able to think out of the box, be creative and innovative –stakeholder workshop”. Ibidem, p.42, 43.
 Ibidem, pp.63,64,65.
- To reduce youth unemployment in the Mediterranean area through the promotion of mobility and vocational education of young people, building their capacities in the sectors of needs analysis and project management at Mediterranean level
- To promote collaboration through mobility and professional development of 90 young people
- To support the co-development of civil society organizations and local authorities
- To develop an active Mediterranean networking
- To promote active citizenship and intercultural dialogue
- 4-month mobility period for 90 young people
- 2-month internship for 60 young unemployed
- Training on needs analysis and project management for 90 young people
- Development of a strong Mediterranean network (cross-borders & cross-sectors)
- 90 young people (30 TG1 + 60 TG2) have done a mobility experience doing activities related to project management at Euro-Mediterranean level
- Development of the Mediterranean network involving min.6 local organizations
- Handbook on project management at Euro-Mediterranean level
- Promotion of active citizenship and intercultural dialogue of at least 65.000 people
- at least 14.000 people known the project thanks to the dissemination activities
- Coordinator: CESIE (Italy)
- Region of Sicily (Italy)
- Kendro Merimnas Oikoyenias kai Pediou, KMOP (Greece)
- Portuguese Association for Young Entrepreneurs, ANJE (Portugal)
- Al-Hayat Center for Civil Society Development (Jordan)
- Union of municipalities of Hermel (Lebanon)
- Juhoud for community and Local Development (Palestinian Authority)
Follow the project IN ACTION
Date of project: 01/01/2014 – 31/12/2015
Joint Managing Authority: ENPI CBC Med Programme, Autonomous Region of Sardinia
Contact: CESIE: email@example.com