On April 28th, the third edition of the MorpheusCup will take place at the University of Luxembourg in Belval, with more than 650 students taking part in the competition. For the third year in a row, the European commission is showing its support, through Marianne Thyssen, European commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility. Today, she tells us all about her mission and the main challenges faced by the EU when it comes to employment.
You have recently confirmed the support of the EC to the 3rd edition of the MorpheusCup. To what extend is this unique European championship in line with the mission of your cabinet?
The championship is a great opportunity for young people to showcase their skills and to help to bridge the gap between universities, schools and the European employment market. In the Commission, we believe that the right skills not only improve young people's life chances, but also act as a driver for our future competitiveness and growth. This thinking lies at the heart of the European Commission's New Skills Agenda, presented in June 2016. Also through our recently launched flagship initiative, the European Pillar of Social rights, we aim at tackling skills shortages and mismatches, so that the skills available on the labour markets are aligned with those needed by employers and businesses – today and in the future.
What are the main challenges faced by the European Union when it comes to employment?
The world of work is radically changing. Many of today’s jobs did not exist a decade ago. At the same time, it is likely that most children entering primary school today will end up working in new job types that do not yet exist. Making the most of the new opportunities will require a massive investment in skills and for our education, training and lifelong learning systems to adapt to the new realities and stay ahead of the curve so that people can access good quality learning at any moment of their life.
How can the European labour market be promoted and developed? What are the EC's main initiatives?
I already mentioned the New Skills Agenda and the European Pillar of Social Rights. But the European Commission is also working to create more opportunities for young people to get their foot on the jobs ladder, or to start out in business for themselves. One of our flagship actions is the Youth Guarantee – it helps young, unemployed people get into a job, an apprenticeship or further education and training. 10 million young people have already benefited from the Youth Guarantee over the last 3 years – and we continue our commitment with a proposed 2 billion euro in extra funding until 2020. In addition we have launched the European Solidarity Corps for young people to learn new skills and gain an experience by expressing their solidarity through volunteering or a job placement. And we want to extend the opportunities for young people in vocational and educational training to go on Erasmus for longer periods of time.
What are your main tasks and responsibilities at the European Commission?
It is my personal conviction and the opinion of this Commission that economic and social progress should go hand in hand and be balanced. My first priority has been to help young people get into jobs. Our growth and investment package are geared towards creating more jobs. And I am responsible for ensuring decent and safe working conditions and equal opportunities for all on the labour markets in the EU, while stepping up the struggle against inequality and poverty. This is not only with the intention to make our societies fairer, but also to enhance free movement of workers within the EU, which is one of my other responsibilities.