Greek youths riot in Athens over soaring unemployment levels
Greek youths riot in Athens over soaring unemployment levelsReuters

The European Union youth unemployment crisis has no sign of abating as inflexible education across the region has led to a severe mismatch between graduate qualifications and the skills businesses need.

According to research by management consultants McKinsey & Company, the inability of the eurozone's education sector to respond quickly and reshape the workforce has led to many graduates having qualifications that are not being demanded by employers.

"Policymakers, educators and business must all break out of their silos and work together more closely to avert what is a growing crisis," said McKinsey in the report.

"Students need more and better information about different career paths and they need to be motivated to use it.

"Youth unemployment is a profound challenge for Europe and the financial crisis has made it worse."

The study is based on a survey of 5,300 young Europeans, 2,600 employers and 700 technical schools, colleges and universities, and is titled Education to Employment: Getting Europe's Youth into Work.

The research shows that Spain, for example, produces many graduates with good skills but the lack of fluent second language has prevented them from working abroad where there are more job offers available.

Around 25% of EU young people are unemployed and in some countries, such as Greece and Spain, over half of their youth population remain without a job.

"What we also need is better apprenticeship opportunities at lower costs," said Mona Mourshed, a senior partner at McKinsey and co-author of the report.

The EU has already tried to address the growing rate of jobless young people. Over the last year, EU leaders pledged €8bn (£6.7bn, $10.9bn) for the 'Youth Guarantee' scheme, in order to help provide jobs, apprenticeships, traineeships or further education to school leavers.

"This is crucial if we want to place education for employability at the core of Europe's policies – a point that I have been making for years," said Androulla Vassiliou, the EU education, culture and youth commissioner.

"In spite of the high number of job seekers, many employers are unable to fill vacancies because they cannot find people with the right skills."