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Youth first - Employment, skills and social policies that work for young Europeans in times of uncertainty

Location: Brussels, European Parliament/Spinelli 1E2
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In the European Year of Youth, five EU Agencies, Cedefop, Eurofound, ELA, EU-OSHA and ETF have come together to organise an event with the EMPL Committee of the European Parliament to share their insights and explore the challenges and opportunities for young people in times of uncertainty.

The Directors of the five Agencies together with MEPs and other experts discussed working conditions for young people, youth policies, wellbeing and mental health, access to education and training, opportunities for cross-border mobility, realities in EU neighbouring countries and more.

The presentations and debate were held in English. Participation to the seminar was on invitation only, but live web streaming was provided, without recording.

For questions about the event you can contact Cedefop’s Brussels Office via brusselsofficeatcedefop [dot] europa [dot] eu (brusselsoffice[at]cedefop[dot]europa[dot]eu).

The event

In Europe, we recognise the importance of the development, well-being and participation in society and the labour market of young people. We do that by investing in their potential, supporting their labour market integration, promoting quality jobs, facilitating skills development and mobility, and fighting economic and social exclusion. While the intentions, strategies, and policy packages have become more ambitious over time, many young people today still have difficulties grasping the opportunities to be or to become the best they can be.

On the road to recovery and resilience, these opportunities should become even more visible and enable youth to build a better future – greener, more inclusive, and digital. Bringing together their complementary expertise, the European Agencies aim to support EU institutions, Member States and other stakeholders in addressing policy challenges and capitalizing on practices that work across Member States in times of disruption and transition.

Programme - 8 September 2022

Moderator: Clara Drammeh, Trainer and expert, European Youth Forum

10:00-10:20 | Welcome and introduction

  • MEP Dragoș Pîslaru, Chair of the EMPL Committee, European Parliament
  • Joost Korte, Director-General of DG Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion

10:20-10:35 | | Panel 1 – Importance of young people’s participation in society and on the labour market
Let’s discuss why we should put youth first!

  • Ivailo Kalfin, Executive Director, Eurofound
  • Mara Brugia, Deputy Director, Cedefop
  • Cosmin Boiangiu, Executive Director, ELA

10:35 – 11:00 | Panel 2 – Providing opportunities for young people
Getting a job and developing the right skills for a changing world of work
Discussion on how to create opportunities for jobs, education, training, quality work experience programmes and skills for the twin transition despite all of the challenges. Taking advantage of the cross-border European labour markets and reflecting on European youth policies and the world.

  • Jürgen Siebel, Executive Director, Cedefop
  • Irene Mandl, Head of Unit, ELA
  • Xavier Matheu, ad interim Director, ETF

11:00 – 11:20 | Invited comments and Q&A with MEPs and audience

11:20 – 11:40 Coffee break

11:40 – 11:50 Meeting the expectations of young Europeans

  • Maria Rodriguez Alcázar, Board Member, European Youth Forum

11:50 – 12:15 | Panel 3 – Shaping a future that works for young people
Supporting youth facing different challenges: investing in job quality, well-being and health and safety matters.
A reflection on who really is in this group of young people not in employment, education or training (NEETs) and how to design adequate support measures to meet their needs. Examining young workers’ job quality, wellbeing and sharing of good practices to protect the health and safety of young people in the workplace. 

  • Maria Jepsen, Deputy Director, Eurofound
  • William Cockburn, Interim Executive Director, EU-OSHA
  • Francesca Rosso, Coordinator for Skills Demand Analysis, ETF

12:15 – 12:35 | Invited comments and Q&A with MEPs and audience

12:35 – 12:55 European Agencies – Working together for the future of youth in Europe

  • Jürgen Siebel, Executive Director, Cedefop
  • Ivailo Kalfin, Executive Director, Eurofound
  • Cosmin Boiangiu, Executive Director, ELA
  • William Cockburn, Interim Executive Director, EU-OSHA 
  • Xavier Matheu, ad interim Director, ETF

12:55 – 13:00 Conclusions by the Chair of the EMPL Committee and close

More details about the agenda can be found here


  • Cosmin Boiangiu - Excutive Director, ELA. Ambassador Cosmin Boiangiu is the Executive Director of the European Labour Authority. He is a career diplomat who joined the Romanian Foreign Affairs ministry in 1996, with expertise in EU affairs and multilateral diplomacy, security and strategic policies, development, NATO and United Nations. Between April 2016 – December 2020, ambassador Boiangiu served as Deputy Permanent Representative of Romania to the European Union and Representative to the Committee of Permanent Representatives I (COREPER I). He presided COREPER I during Romania’s presidency of the Council of the European Union (2019) and coordinated on Council’s behalf the negotiations for the conclusion and adoption of an unprecedented 48 EU’s legislative acts. In 2012 - 2016 Cosmin Boiangiu was Ambassador of Romania to the Republic of Slovenia. From 2008 to 2012, Cosmin Boiangiu served as Director of United Nations, Specialized Institutions and Francophone Affairs within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In 2008 he was Spokesperson and Director for Information and Press of the Romanian Foreign Ministry.Previously he represented Romania at the United Nations - Security Council and at NATO. Cosmin Boiangiu is university licenced in International Economic Relations (Bucharest University of Economic Sciences, 1996), has a Master in Public Management (Bucharest University of Economic Sciences, 2006) and a PhD in Economics of climate change (Bucharest University of Economic Sciences, 2019).
  • Mara Brugia – Deputy Director, Cedefop. Mara Brugia is the Deputy Director of the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training, Cedefop. She has been involved in vocational education and training (VET) since 1994. As Head of Department from 2004 to 2014 in Cedefop, she managed teams of experts working in research and policy analysis on European VET, with specific focus on adult learning, apprenticeships and the European tools supporting learning and working across borders, such as the European qualifications framework. She holds a university degree in Economics and a master in Economics, politics and law of the European Union. Her mother tongue is Italian (born in Perugia) and she is fluent in English, French, Greek and Spanish.
  • William Cockburn - Interim Executive Director, EU-OSHA. William Cockburn has been appointed Interim Executive Director until a new Executive Director will take up duties. Since 2012 William has been in charge of EU-OSHA’s Prevention and Research Unit, which develops the occupational safety and health content. William has worked at EU-OSHA since 1998 where he focused on the areas of research coordination, emerging risks and was responsible for the first European Survey of Enterprises on New and Emerging Risks (ESENER). William holds a Bachelor’s degree in Law and a Master of Science degree in ergonomics (University of Loughborough). Prior to joining EU-OSHA, he worked in academic research investigating company safety culture and in the private sector as an ergonomics consultant and research manager for projects in health and safety at work.
  • Maria Jepsen – Deputy Director, Eurofound. Maria Jepsen joined Eurofound as its Deputy Director in 2019. Prior to this, she was Director of the research department at the European Trade Union Institute (ETUI). She was also an assistant professor and research fellow at the Free University of Brussels (ULB), where she continues to be an associate professor in labour economics. She was also former external lecturer at the Catholic University of Louvain (UCL) and the College of Europe. Her main research interests include gender studies, the impact of welfare states on labour supply, wages and working conditions and, more recently, the development of the European social dimension. Ms Jepsen has been a member of various committees, councils and advisory boards at national and international level dealing with employment, social, gender and research issues. She has also served as a coordinator on the European Commission's tripartite advisory committee on health and safety at work. She holds a PhD in Economics and a Master’s degree in Econometrics from ULB.
  • Ivailo Kalfin – Executive Director, Eurofound. Ivailo Kalfin was appointed Executive Director of Eurofound in 2021. Before taking up this post, he was Director of the Economics and International Relations Institute in Sofia. He has served as Bulgaria's Deputy Prime Minister on two occasions, as well as Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of Labour and Social Policy. He was also a Member of the European Parliament (2009-14), a member of the high-level Monti group (2014-2017) and senior adviser on budget at the European Commission (2017-2019). Earlier in his career, he was a member of the Advisory Board of the Bulgarian National Bank and Economic Policy Secretary to the President of Bulgaria. Mr Kalfin holds MSc degrees in international economic relations and international banking from the University of National and World Economy in Sofia and Loughborough University, UK, respectively. He has honorary doctorates from Loughborough University and the University of Ruse, Bulgaria.
  • Joost Korte - Director-General, DG EMPL, European Commission. Joost Korte was appointed Director-General of Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion on the 16 March 2018. Previously, the Dutch national served as Deputy Director-General in the European Commission’s Trade Department, in the Agriculture and Rural Development Department as well as in the Enlargement Department. Furthermore, Mr. Korte spent several years in the Commission’s Secretariat General as Director responsible for the relations with the Council of Ministers and gained extensive experience in the Private offices of Sir Leon Brittan, Chris Patten and Danuta Hübner. These professional experiences within the European institutions allowed him to develop a profound understanding of EU decision-making. A lawyer by training, Joost Korte joined the Commission in 1991, following eight years of academic work on European law at the Universities of Utrecht and Edinburgh.
  • Irene Mandl - Head of Information and EURES Unit, ELA. Irene Mandl joined ELA in September 2021 as the Head of Information and EURES Unit. She holds Master’s degrees in international business administration (with specialisation in marketing and organisational planning) and in business and law (with specialisation in HR management). Before joining ELA she worked in policy-oriented socioeconomic research in the fields of employment and labour market, as well as entrepreneurship and industry analysis. Most recently, she was Head of the research unit ‘Employment’ at the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions where she was leading the cross-European research on labour market developments (including new forms of work and employment and the future of work, digitalisation, climate change, restructuring and related public policy approaches) and topics at the intersection of employment and entrepreneurship (such as job creation, workplace practices, small and medium-sized enterprises, business start-ups and scale-ups and internationalisation, including HR management in international businesses).
  • Xavier Matheu - Director ad interim, European Training Foundation, ETF. Xavier Matheu was born in 1961 in Barcelona (Spain) and holds qualifications in geography and history, social education and in-company training management. For 14 years he worked in Barcelona on technical assistance projects in the fields of vocational education and training reform and employment. In 2004, he joined the ETF as an expert in vocational education and training reform and from 2008 he worked in corporate planning, monitoring and evaluation. From January 2015 to December 2020, he was Head of the Policy Unit under the Operations Department. In January 2021, he became Head of the Knowledge Hub Department, which ensures the co-creation, management and sharing of ETF knowledge on human capital development (HCD) in partnership with European Commission services, our partner countries and international community stakeholders. It also provides updated and relevant factual information, monitoring, analysis and assessment on HCD in the countries with which the ETF works. On 16 February 2022 Xavier Matheu also took up the post of Director ad interim of the ETF, until a new Director is appointed.
  • Dragoș Pîslaru – Member of the European Parliament, Chair of the EMPL Committee. Dragoș Pîslaru is a Romanian economist and politician. As member of the European Parliament, he is the acting chair of the Employment and Social Affairs Committee (EMPL). He is also an active member of the Subcommittee Tax Matters (FISC) and a substitute of the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee (ECON). He has joined the European Parliament in 2019 and is part of the Romanian delegation REPER, which is affiliated to the European political family Renew Europe. He is a graduate of the Faculty of International Economic Relations within the Academy of Economic Studies (ASE) in Bucharest with a Bachelor's Degree in International Economics. He attended postgraduate courses, obtaining a diploma of 'In-depth Studies in European Integration’ within the ASE. He holds a Master of Science in International Relations from the London School of Economics and Political Science in the United Kingdom, and a Diploma of Entrepreneurship -Case Study Centered Learning at Harvard Business School. He obtained a PhD in economic sciences with a thesis held at the National Institute of Economic Research, within the Romanian Academy.
  • Francesca Rosso - Coordinator for Skills Demand Analysis, ETF. Francesca Rosso joined the European Training Foundation (ETF) in Torino in March 2012 as labour market expert. In her work at the ETF, Ms. Rosso currently coordinates the activities of the ETF Skills Demand Analysis and focuses on themes such as skills for the future and labour market reforms and employment policies in EU neighbouring countries, in close cooperation with the European Commission and with the Delegations of the European Union. Before joining the ETF, Ms. Rosso spent several years managing programmes on employment and job creation for different international bodies, including the United Nations in Serbia, the Italian Cooperation in Serbia, Kosovo and Montenegro and the Secretariat of the EU Council at the United Nations in New York. Ms Rosso also worked for a few years at the European Commission in Brussels, Directorate General for Enlargement, dealing with the coordination of EU financial assistance to the Western Balkans and Turkey. Graduated in international law and holding master degrees on EU affairs, international relations and comparative law, Ms Rosso is part of the Lawyers Association in Torino, member of the SIOI, Italian Society for the International Organizations, and EMIB candidate at ESCP Business School.
  • Jürgen Siebel – Executive Director, Cedefop. Jürgen Siebel joined Cedefop from the private sector in September 2019 as Executive Director. Out of Thessaloniki, Cedefop supports the development of European vocational education and training (VET) policies, skills policies, and qualifications policies, and contributes to their implementation. As Executive Director, Jürgen is responsible for managing the Agency’s operations in accordance with the strategic direction of its tripartite Management Board. Before joining Cedefop, Jürgen served for more than 20 years as an HR manager with global governance and business-partner responsibilities at Siemens. Jürgen earned his MSc in Economics at the University of Hamburg, and a PhD in Business Administration from the University of Vienna.
  • María Rodríguez Alcázar - Board Member, European Youth Forum. María Rodríguez Alcázar is Board Member at the European Youth Forum, the platform representing young people in Europe composed by more than 100 youth organisations. She is responsible for the Social and Economic Inclusion of young people, advocating towards public institutions for policies to allow young people access their rights and develop an independent life. Since the age of 14 she works for youth rights at different levels, being a student activist and Vice President of the Spanish Youth Council previously. She has been engaged in several Human Rights mechanisms focusing particularly on age discrimination and asking for young people to be meaningfully involved in policy-making. She is a PhD student at Ghent University and the United Nations University Institute for Comparative Studies on Regional Integration. She has also worked as Policy and Advocacy Officer in civil society organisations.
  • Moderator: Clara Drammeh, Trainer and expert, European Youth Forum. As a dedicated scout and youth advocate, Clara is experienced with facilitation in civil society and political contexts. For some time now, she has been working as a freelance trainer and facilitator as founder of Mixed Message Moderation. Being a young black woman, she advocates for more diversity on stages, a culturally sensitive approach and inclusive language, as well as interactive, participatory events and trainings both face-to-face and online. Through her international relations studies and her work as a former youth policy officer, she strives to help build bridges between young people and political decision-makers.

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About the Agencies

Cedefop was founded in 1975 and is based in Greece since 1995. Cedefop supports the promotion, development and implementation of the Union policy in the field of vocational education and training (VET) as well as skills and qualifications policies by working together with the Commission, Member States and social partners. To this end, it enhances and disseminates knowledge, provides evidence and services for policy-making, including research-based conclusions, and facilitates knowledge sharing among and between EU and national actors.


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Eurofound is a tripartite European Union Agency based in Dublin, whose role is to provide knowledge to assist in the development of better social, employment and work-related policies. Eurofound provides information, advice and expertise on working conditions and sustainable work, industrial relations, labour market change and quality and life and public services, to support the EU Institutions and bodies, Member States and Social Partners in shaping and implementing social and employment policies, as well as promoting social dialogue on the basis of comparative information, research and analysis.

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EU-OSHA is the European Union information agency for occupational safety and health and is based in Bilbao. The agency’s work contributes to the European Commission’s Strategic Framework on Health and Safety at Work 2021-2027 and other relevant EU strategies and programmes. EU-OSHA works to make European workplaces safer, healthier and more productive — for the benefit of businesses, employees and governments and promotes a culture of risk prevention to improve working conditions in Europe.

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The European Training Foundation is a European Union agency, based in Turin, Italy and operational since 1994, that helps transition and developing countries harness the potential of their human capital through the reform of education, training and labour market systems, and in the context of the EU's external relations policy.

The European Labour Authority (ELA) was established in July 2019 and has been created to help strengthen fairness and trust in the internal market by assisting Member States and the European Commission to ensure that EU rules on labour mobility and social security coordination are enforced in a fair, simple and effective way. ELA also has an important role to play in facilitating and ensuring effective labour mobility in Europe, in particular by activities of the European Employment Services (EURES).

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Brussels, European Parliament/Spinelli 1E2

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