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08-07-2019 11:01

Address by the Minister of Labour, Welfare and Social Insurance, Ms Zeta Emilianidou, at UClan Cyprus Conference «Youth Entrepreneurship in Cyprus»

Promoting youth entrepreneurship and fostering greater participation of young people in the labour market has recently become a priority on the EU policy agendas, as there is high potential of entrepreneurs to create employment and sustainable growth. Helping young people transform their creative ideas into successful business plans by removing the barriers to entrepreneurship has many potential benefits, including direct and indirect job creation and the development of human capital and new skills.

In particular, the European Commission launched the 2013 Youth Employment Initiative and the Communication “Working together for Europe’s young people – A call to action on youth unemployment in order to accelerate the implementation of the Youth Guarantee and the investment in young people”. One of the main goals of this initiative was to ensure that all young people under the age of 25 are offered employment, continuous training, apprenticeship or work within a period of four months from the moment they become unemployed or exit formal education.

In this framework, youth entrepreneurship has become a very high priority in the EU debate due to its potential for job creation and human capital development. It is noted however that policies and initiatives to promote youth entrepreneurship should be targeted at those with the right skills, values and ideas to maximize the results of public investment. It is observed that youth self‑employment is a predominantly male activity. 

European Commission is also financing the Program “Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs" which operates across the Participating Countries with the help of the local contact points, competent in business support. This Program is a cross-border exchange programme which gives new or aspiring entrepreneurs the chance to learn from experienced entrepreneurs running small businesses in other participating countries.

The exchange of experience takes place during a stay with the experienced entrepreneur, which helps the new entrepreneur acquire the skills needed to run a small firm. The host benefits from fresh perspectives on his/her business and gets the opportunities to cooperate with foreign partners or learn about new markets.

In the last five years, more than 2,500 pairs of entrepreneurs have benefitted from the programme. The European Commission’s goal is to organize 10,000 exchanges by 2020.

Other important key EU actions to help member states to achieve the employment targets were the Commission's flagship initiatives “Youth on the Move” which was targeted to tackle specific problems related to education, training as well as employment, and also “New Skills and Jobs” targeted to help EU countries to reform labour markets, upgrade skills and match them with market demand to boost employability, especially of young people. Additionally, there various programs in place to help young people in finding work and gaining experience and knowledge through training One of these programs is the EURES, Euroguidance, Erasmus +, etc.

Facts and figures across Europe:

At present, 5 million Europeans under the age of 25 are in the labour market but cannot find a job. Unemployment among youngsters with low level of education is higher. Studies showed that by 2020, 35% of new jobs will require high-level qualifications and 50% will require medium-level qualifications. More than 7.5 million under the age of 25 years old are NEET (not in education, employment, or training).

Apart from the frustration of joblessness to the young themselves, a generation without hope for decent employment, is a problem for families, the economy and society at large.

In Cyprus, the unemployment rate decreased greatly since the economic crisis, based on the Eurostat latest forecast statistics, in April 2019 the unemployment rate stood at 8.4%, while the Euro area (EA 19) unemployment rate was at 7.6%. Youth unemployment decreased also to 19.3% in January 2019.

New or potential young entrepreneurs in Cyprus, apart from the above mentioned programs can also benefit from:

In particular, the Cyprus government’s one-stop-shop for european or national funding, is listing national programmes and schemes, as well as calls for proposals, which are divided into different categories. The portal enables youngsters to search based on issues of their interest. They can subscribe and receive information via email.

  •    the Scheme for the Enhancement of Youth Entrepreneurship

The Industrial Development Service of the Ministry of Energy, Commerce, Industry and Tourism runs a program that aims to develop, support and promote entrepreneurship amongst young people for the development of new and sustainable small and medium enterprises (SMEs). This is promoted through financial support and educational training courses. Special emphasis is placed on the use of new technologies and innovative production methods, the promotion of products and services, the enhancement of entrepreneurship in the field of environment, and the promotion of modern entrepreneurial operations for the development of dynamic, evolving and competitive businesses.

  • Cypriot Enterprise Link (CEL)

Which is a youth-led organization aiming to connect and support Cypriot entrepreneurial talent, in order to form a local and a global entrepreneurial network supported by events, meetups, workshops and projects.

There is no doubt that the promotion of innovation and entrepreneurship, especially among youth will contribute to the enhancement of creativity and modern knowledge towards creating businesses intense in knowledge and capital.

 

Note: The address was read by the Director of the Department of Labour, Mr Alexandros Alexandrou

(EK)