First in person EPSU Youth Network meeting in over two years

Youth meeting Tirana 15 June 2022
Youth meeting Tirana 15 June 2022

(28 June 2022) This month, the EPSU youth network met in person for the first time since 2019. The meeting took place in Tirana, the European Youth Capital of 2022. After two years of online meetings during the pandemic, the meeting was a great chance to build and renew the youth network. 

The 2022 annual youth meeting had special significance. In her 2021 State of the EU speech, European Commission President, Ursula Von der Leyen, announced that 2022 would be the European year of youth in recognition of the challenges facing young people and young workers.

Young workers and young jobseekers face numerous difficulties in entering the labour market today, including in public services. Austerity and budget cuts over the last decade have resulted in fewer and fewer stable public service jobs being made available. Across public services, there is an increase in non-standard forms of work and precarious contracts. Many young workers end up taking poor quality jobs, including part-time jobs or jobs that don’t provide sick pay or social protection. Some take traineeships and internships, even if they are overqualified.

These are serious issues for trade unions. Across Europe, the unions have a big role to play in ensuring young workers are protected, helping them find quality employment, and strengthening the voice of young workers. But at the same time, fewer and fewer young people are joining trade unions. It is therefore crucial not only to organise and recruit young workers, but also to increase the active involvement of youth members in the different areas of union work so that they are equipped to tackle these challenges. 

In the youth network meeting, participants discussed the various trends that are impacting the world of work, as well as ways to strengthen the inclusion of young workers in unions. On the second day, members of the steering group led a workshop to equip participants with some of the knowledge and practical skills they will need to tackle these trends, focusing in particular on digitalisation and collective bargaining. At the end of the day, participants engaged in a collective bargaining roleplay exercise on specific topics to do with digitalisation.

In order to continue strengthening and developing the EPSU youth network, we renewed the steering group with new members so that there is now a full steering group of 15 members. Over the next year, the new steering group will coordinate the work of the youth network and develop new trainings to equip the youth network with necessary knowledge and skills.