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The kids are not alright; only employable skills can get young people a job

By Peter Searle, CEO of Adecco Group UK & Ireland

With more than 200 million people out of work, its clear that something has gone awry in the global labour market. That something is a severe mismatch of talent. Despite 33 million people looking for a job in the USand Europe, more than eight million positions remain vacant. In the UKalone, 1.9 million people remain unemployed.

This jobs mismatch has hit young people particularly hard. Youth unemployment of over 20% persists in Europe, with peaks of over 50% in Spainand Greece. Recent figures from the Office for National Statistics show that there are nearly 190,000 18 to 24-year-olds in the UK who have been out of a job for more than 12 months.

Its clear that the kids are not alright. Too many of them struggle to get that crucial first work experience that is needed to get a job.

The Global Talent Competitiveness Index(GTCI), recently launched by INSEAD, Adecco and HCLI, found that when it comes to developing top talent, the most successful countries invest in lifelong learning and providing practical professional experience.

Its clear that countries and companies that want to see growth, and lower youth unemployment, must do more to equip young people with employable skills, matching the real needs of employers.

University-only approaches are, simply put, antiquated. Apprenticeships, work experience and other ways of learning on the job are the future. Again, the performance of top-ranked countries reveals that vocational does not imply low skilled. In Switzerland, for example, half of the ministers of the current Government have come out of the vocational stream.

But its not all about educational reform. Companies can and should take action by investing in initiatives aiming to provide young people with better access to the labour market. This can range from introducing new apprenticeship and graduate schemes to supporting talent growth in broader society. Adeccos Win4Youth programme is one of a number of global programmes through which we take concrete action.

Our role in the employment industry means that we not only have a real opportunity but a responsibility to increase the employability of young people most at risk of exclusion from the workforce. Since 2010, through a passion to improve the world of work and a healthy sporting competitiveness, Win4Youth has united more than 30,000 Adecco Group colleagues across 60 countries in the battle against youth unemployment.

For 2015, our employees worldwide will take on the three endurance disciplines of triathlon running, swimming and cycling to reach a target distance equivalent to 44 times around the world. Their combined kilometres will be converted into a company donation to be shared between charitable foundations working hard to support the most disadvantaged in some of the countries hit hardest by the global economic crisis.

Since its inception Win4Youth has raised over $1.6 million to make better work, better life a reality for millions of people around the world. But its not just about raising funds; helping to equip young people to enter the job market is at the very core of what we do and its by imparting our knowledge of the labour market, skills in demand and providing access to work experience that we can have a direct impact on young peoples ability to secure meaningful work.

This year Adecco Group colleagues will also spend time volunteering at our eight chosen charitable foundations in Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Colombia, Greece and the US. Theyll support them in daily operations, and offer their young members invaluable career guidance, training and practical tools to help them overcome barriers to employment.

The aspiration for many young people around the world is to simply be a part of the active workforce business has a major role to play in not only helping them to understand what skills the workforce needs but provide opportunity for these to be nurtured.

For the talent gap will only be bridged with employable skills.

Find out more about the Global Talent Competitiveness Index. Follow Win4Youth on Twitter.  

Want to find out more about companies who are making a difference? Come along to our Number 1 Recruiter event on 15th May

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