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A change of mentality about employment in Greece, careers without borders, flexible forms of employment and personal skills are among the new concepts influencing the labor market today, according to the survey of ALBA and Citi Greece - Policy recommendations to all stakeholders and individuals.

 

Athens, December 12, 2013.

Today’s press conference at the ALBA auditorium marked the completion of the third phase of the Youth Employability Initiative that was been launched by Citi Greece in the context of its corporate responsibility program, designed and implemented by ΑLBA Graduate Business School at the American College of Greece, and funded by the Citi Foundation.

The press conference included a presentation of the findings of the survey conducted by ALBA and the conclusions of the public discussion that followed it. The aim of the initiative was to develop specific and implementable policy recommendations, so as to improve youth employability in Greece today.

The final survey results and policy recommendations were released in the form of a brief and practical edition and were sent to the public and private stakeholders for further consideration and implementation.

The initiative was introduced in the speeches of Prof. Nikolaos Travlos, Dean of ALBA Graduate Business School at the American College of Greece, and Mr. Grant Carson, CEO, Citi Greece. The project’s results were presented by Dr. Olga Epitropaki, Associate Professor of Organizational Behavior and Human Resources Management, “The Stavros Costopoulos” Chair in Human Resource Management and Development, and Dr. Christos Koritos, Assistant professor of Marketing, who were responsible for the scientific supervision of the survey.

Prof. Nikolaos Travlos stated: «Our youth has been hit by the economic and social crisis that we experience. Youth unemployment is an open wound for our society: apart from the negative financial and psychological effects at individual level, it undermines future economic growth and social cohesion. It is assumed that investing in young people and the development of certain conditions in order to “unleash” their talents, is the most direct and guaranteed path to financial development. It is also proven that our young people have great talents that can be appreciated in the labor market, even in today’s crisis».

Mr. Carson added: «Young people are one of the leading forces behind development and innovation. Their curiosity and passion to make the world better, coupled to their comfort with change can make the difference. As times change, new strategies are required. What worked for one generation is not necessarily good enough for the next. It’s our moral duty to help young people discern the changing needs of the world around them and redefine their vision and strategy».

Policy Recommendations
The policy recommendations that came to light by the survey and open discussion with all stakeholders, are addressed to (a) young people, (b) the state, (c) the collective bodies, (d) companies and employers, (e) universities and (f) to private job recruitment agencies.

Proposals for young people:

  • Reorientation of career options based on individual inclinations and skills, and not on the grounds of established social norms.
  • Take personal responsibility and initiative in seeking the appropriate professional direction and job position.
  • Cultivate critical thinking and multiple interpersonal skills combined with specialized education.
  • Flexibility in the format and alterations of a professional career, beyond the limits of specialized education.
  • Develop “resilience” skills in the process of finding a job.
  • Seek for contact opportunities with other cultures, so as to gain 'cultural intelligence' and integration into the globalised economy.

Proposals for the State include:

  • Constitutionalisation of private universities.
  • Assessment of higher education institutions (public and private).
  • Establishment of a graduates’ employability index, as one of the educational institutions’ evaluation criteria.
  • Implementation and stimulation of different rankings for higher education institutions (public and private) based on competitive criteria.
  • Promotion and further support of universities’ career offices as key liaison between universities and the labor market.
  • Development of programs regarding interpersonal skills during primary education.
  • Establishment of working apprenticeship as a - 'mandatory' - introductory stage to labor market for students of all educational institutions, public and private.
  • Coordinated effort to promote our country abroad as an attractive destination for graduate and postgraduate studies.
  • Concentrated effort to promote our country abroad as a center of academic excellence based on the research work of educational institutions and the attraction of their graduates in foreign countries (as this already happens with medicine graduates who are sought after in countries like England, or graduates of polytechnics and many other fields).

How companies and employers can contribute

  • Regard young people as a "talent pool" and not as cheap and easily replaceable labor.
  • More systematic pursuit of companies for broader cooperation with higher education institutions.
  • Integration of youth employability improvement activities in the context of corporate social responsibility.
  • Establishment of coaching and mentoring programs for young people who do apprenticeships and traineeships in companies.
  • More active participation of companies in the process of institutionalizing apprenticeship as paid labor.
  • Invest in workforce development and emphasize on talent management.
  • More systematic effort for a "realistic pro-taste" of working environment from candidates through the active promotion of the company's employer brand in social media, youtube and other platforms popular to young audience.

The role of Universities – Higher Education Institutions

  • Create a knowledge and skills requirements’ feedback mechanism with the labor market - reshaping of studies’ program based on the labor market developments.
  • Use of more practices, in addition to the theoretical, educational tools in university program of studies.
  • Flexibility in field of studies' within universities (change of department or "direction").
  • Integration of activities aiming at interpersonal skills’ (soft skills) development in university program of studies.
  • Implementation of research activities leading to business initiatives and setting up mechanisms to support research based entrepreneurship.
  • Upgrading of career offices by undertaking more active initiatives in order to interconnect universities and the labor market.
  • Synergies among career offices of various institutions.

The contribution of private career offices

  • Development of common young people resumes’ platforms in the labor market.
  • Execution and dissemination of studies regarding labor market trends in Greece.
  • Systematic information sharing towards young people on new trends in the labor market, wage levels and working conditions.

The proposed role of Collective Bodies

  • Collection of all the data and surveys produced, in a central database.
  • Collaboration between collective bodies for youth employability issues by conducting joint research efforts and actions.
  • Systematic recording of labor market requirements for specific skills and characteristics.

Survey identity and results
The survey conducted, was based on qualitative and quantitative methodology, and included focus groups and interviews, as well as three field surveys, two addressing to young people 18-29 years old, in which 1.387 persons participated, and one involving Human Resource Management executives with 178 company representatives.
The project’s administrative supervision was under the responsibility of Mr. Aristotelis Alexopoulos, Senior Project Manager of ALBA’s Applied Research & Innovation department.

The basic survey results are the following:

  • There is considerable divergence of views between young people and employers as to what skills are important in today's labor market. The greatest opinions’ divergence lays on skills such as leadership, initiative, business ethics and emotional intelligence, which young people score lower.
  • Young people give higher rates on skills such as willingness to work and extra effort (97.5%), setting objectives and results oriented (94%), persuasion and sales abilities (91%), professionalism (91%) and communication (89.5%).
  • Human Resource Management executives score higher skills such as: orientation to learning (97%), business ethics and integrity (96%), initiative (93%), adaptability (92%), change management (92%), leadership skills (89%), communication (88%) and self-motivation (85%).
  • 60% of young people are willing to leave Greece in order to find a job.
  • 30% of young people seriously consider opening their own business.
  • 78% of young people tend to have inflated expectations about their future employer’s ability to contribute to their employability, while they have lower expectations regarding pay (43%) and job security (47%).
  • Despite the adverse conditions, the majority of young people have high levels of positive psychological capital, optimism, resilience, self-confidence and hope.
  • 67% of young people receive financial support from their families.
  • 53% of young people consider apprenticeships and internships during their studies as an extremely effective practice to aid their employability, and 77% of Human Resource Management executives share the same view.
  • 30% of young people and 45% of Human Resource Management executives believe that the “Youth Voucher to labor market” program of the Manpower Employment Organization is effective.
  • 53.3% of companies state that they have difficulty in finding young candidates with the right skills, characteristics, and work experience (39%).
  • 86% of multinational and 56% of Greek companies have attempted to be in contact with the Greek university, especially for internships (77%) and participation in career days (63%).

 
 
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