On 10 November 2021, we hosted an online event where we launched and presented our new policy paper, provided an overview of ongoing and upcoming European initiatives on how to develop skills, and discussed some of the remaining key challenges that make it difficult for people in precarious situations to access quality employment.

Then, our panel discussion kicked off with the intervention of Ms Ana Carla Pereira, Employment and Social Adviser in the team of Commissioner Nicolas Schmit. She underlined how the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated challenges in access to employment for the low skilled, young people, and single mothers, among others. After that, Ms Katrin Langensiepen, MEP from the Greens took the floor to address the specific challenges that persons with disabilities face to enter the labour market.

Then, it was the turn of Mr Dirk Kehr, Head of Social Enterprise of the Uppsala City Mission, one of our Swedish members. During his intervention, Mr Kehr shed light on the problems of the system in place in Sweden to enable access to employment for people with mental health issues, which requires them to first get medical and social support while staying at home. Only after people have done that, they are allowed to start work training. He argued that this process is very destructive, and people do not make the progress they need to make. He explained that what the Uppsala City Mission has done within their social enterprises is to reverse that logic, letting people join their programmes even if they have mental health issues. They have seen people improving radically because they have a community, meaning in their life, and a purpose. That increase in their wellbeing creates an opportunity for them to incorporate into society that is not possible when they are at home.

To close our panel, Ms Manon Deshayes, Policy Officer for Social & Economic Inclusion at the European Youth Forum commented on some of the challenges and policy recommendations regarding access to training and employment for (vulnerable) young people.

Want to know what all the other speakers had to say in more detail? Please check out our Webinar Report here.