The Guest Blog

Guest blog post by Emma Argutyan, Secretary General at the European Chemical Employers Group.

Many EU countries show a continued high unemployment rate especially among young well-educated people also in the chemical industry, whereas in other EU member states these young people are needed. Through dedicated mentoring initiatives the chemical sector intends to rectify this imbalance. The European associations of the chemical industry held an international conference on “Mobility and Mentoring – Increasing Employment of Young People in the European Chemical Industry” in order to explore the necessary conditions for these initiatives.

The conference is part of an EU-funded project managed by three project partners: ECEG – the European Chemical Employers Group; FECCIA – the European Federation of Managerial Staff in the Chemical and Allied Industries; and industriAll European Trade Union.

It took place from 7 to 9 September in Vienna, Austria, and gathered more than 100 participants from all around Europe, among them employers, managers and workers of chemical industry as well as HR experts, young chemists, academia, European and national politicians.

In his opening speech, ECEG president Stephen Elliott highlighted the lack of personalised information exchange about working and living conditions abroad. “Young people know where to look for jobs and where to receive technical information. However, they also need an accessible contact person in order to receive information on practical issues. We wish to overcome this barrier by providing a portal which links a network of mentors of chemical industry with interested young workers from another EU country.”

MEP and chair of the European Parliament Committee on Employment and Social Affairs, Mr. Thomas Händel, touched upon developments on social dumping, Youth Guarantee and Youth Employment Initiative. The EP would need support from outside to fight youth unemployment. He invited sectoral social partners to step in.

Ms. Martha Isabel Rojas Pineda, EURES National Coordinator Austria, agreed that main obstacles for mobility are language skills, recognition of qualifications, housing and cultural disparities.

Company experts exchanged on best practices in Croatia, UK, Switzerland and France.

European pre-graduation students, VET teachers and young chemists as well as representatives of the European Young Chemists’ Network discussed their experiences abroad and their expectations towards the mentoring portal and their future careers within the chemical industry.

ECEG and its partners believe that intra-EU mobility offers many opportunities for all parties: the young worker inter alia improves language skills, intercultural competences and expert knowledge in his or her profession in the chemical industry. The host company employs a young talent with expert knowledge in a specific field, which it was unable to recruit on the national job market. Despite the fact that the home country temporarily loses young and qualified workforce, many young people return to their home countries and bring along expert knowledge, job experience and higher personal maturity. If young people are unable to find adequate job opportunities at home and stay unemployed, we believe it is a unique opportunity for them to develop their skills abroad. On top of these visible facts, young people acquire so-called “soft skills”, which are highly requested on the job market. They learn to work in multicultural teams, reflect their own culture and habits, and make valuable personal experience in a foreign culture and working environment. In other words, facilitating mobility of young people in chemical industry is a long-term investment for employers, managers and workers alike.

Funded by the European Commission, the project started in December 2015 and runs for two years.

The aim of the project is to encourage young workers who look for employment opportunities in the chemical industry to increase their voluntary mobility to seek job opportunities across Europe. The focus lies on offering these workers qualified support through a dedicated mentoring network, supported by both employees and employers, to help them to improve their working life.

The results of the project are manifold:

The project partners will put in place a Mobility Mentoring Portal (MMP) which would allow young workers who voluntarily look for employment opportunities in the chemical industry to connect with a relevant mentor within the EU country (or countries) he/she considers to move to.

The mentors are identified by the project partners and their EU-wide association and company networks. The mentors take part at one out of four Mobility Mentoring Workshops (MMW) which will be held by a professional intercultural trainer. In addition, an e-handbook will be produced in order to help to train the mentors in their respective tasks and responsibilities. During the workshops the e-handbook will be tested and optimised.

During the project period two international conferences are foreseen to discuss project results and to exchange best practices on mentoring programmes. The final conference will take place in September 2017 in Lisbon, Portugal.

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