Marco Ricceri, chairman of the Scientific Committee, European Network on Labour Market Monitoring, took part in the Bilbao Youth Employment Forum organized by Novia Salcedo Foundation.

-Can you assess these two days of work and information sharing on so many aspects related to youth employment?
It is a forum and, therefore, there has been room for many voices and experiences. The level has been very high, with representatives from international, national and local agencies; which has made it all very interesting. I think there is a level of agreement among all the speakers that youth employment is a key aspects and, hence, the importance of this event in Bilbao.

-What do you think about the youth employment decade?
Pegasus has put the focus on the link between training and employment; how to assist young people to take this step. I think this is the most specific thing we must do now. There are other related issues such as the economic policy and so on, but the most positive contribution the Foundation can make is to focus on one specific issue.

-What role does the European Network on Labour Market Monitoring play?
This agency was established in 2005 to build a European community to bridge the gap between academia and employers. It has grown to a great extent over the years and we now have over 400 members and 220 labour market observatories throughout Europe, from Lapland to the south. We are going to become involved in the Pegasus campaign because we share its goal; in fact, we have invited Novia Salcedo to the next Network meeting, which will be held in Milan in October 2015.

-How do you see the evolution of the situation over the last five years? Is the recovery too slow?
The situation is getting worse. What we have studied and tried to apply are more effective solutions similar to those we have come across in Germany, based on a new distribution of responsibilities between the social and economic agents. We must learn from that experience.

-Therefore, is the German system the one we need to follow? Is the experience of North European countries also valid?
Well, northern Europe is different because these countries have small populations, a very closed system… However, certain experiences in Germany, and also in France, might be valid.

-What are these experiences that are proving so positive and that we should consider?
First of all, the fact that most of the responsibility within companies, decision-making, has been transferred to social interlocutors. Secondly, they have redistributed working hours and introduced solidarity contracts. All in all, there are many instruments that can be implemented to increase employment.

-Are you optimistic about youth employment in the medium term?
Yes, I am optimistic to the extent that the various systems can adapt economic policies to the new opportunities offered by globalization in terms of internal adjustments, a new balance between public and private operators and quality development. So far, we have only measured progress in terms of quantity, but we must measure it in terms of quality. Therefore, if we adopt this new vision, I think we shall be on the way to a new employment era.