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Getting young people into work

Posted by Nick Prag at 17 September 2014, 22:35 CET |
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Youth employment was the theme of the week in the European Union. This was despite the postponement of a special EU summit on jobs next month which had been called to boost jobs and jump-start the Union's sluggish economy.

Not  a great signal maybe at a time when unemployment in several EU Member States remains at record levels, particularly amongst the young, with many blaming austerity policies implemented to meet the EU's strict rules on deficits and public debt.

How serious a problem is youth unemployment and inactivity in the EU? 

While the jobless rate has begun to steady over the last year, 25 million people remain out of work in Europe, and there are still more than 5 million young people (under 25) among the unemployed. So one in five young Europeans on the labour market cannot find a job; in Greece and Spain it is one in two. 

The EU this week highlighted important action to combat the problem.
The Youth Employment Initiative aims to support particularly young people not in education, employment or training in regions with a youth unemployment rate above 25 per cent.

At Wednesday's European Parliament debate on the European Youth Initiative, Euro-MPs urged EU Member States to make more efficient use of EUR 6 billon in EU funds meant to ease the transition from education to jobs for young people and foster entrepreneurship.
Some advocated simplifying funding procedures, sharing best practices, and promoting apprenticeships, whilst others urged member states to do more to exploit the job-creating potential of new energy-saving and green technologies.

Commissioner László Andor said that the scheme was well on track and bringing results. Out of 34 programmes, 26 had already been adopted in 2014; 6.4 billion euros should be committed this year and additional 4 billion would be available in 2015, he said, adding that the European Youth Initiative would have to be supported by improved macroeconomic conditions to deliver better results.
But there was a consensus that countries need to do more to implement the job schemes, and that funding procedures are too complicated.

A key statement of intent is the Youth Guarantee, seen as one of the most important and ambitious reforms proposed by the Commission.
The Youth Guarantee is a new approach to tackling youth unemployment. It has been based on existing models in Austria and Finland that show that investing in school to work transitions for young people pays off. The Finnish youth guarantee resulted in a reduction in unemployment amongst young people, with 83.5% successfully allocated a job, traineeship, apprenticeship or further education within three months of registering.

The Youth Guarantee ensures that all young people under 25 - whether they are registered with employment services or not - received a good-quality, concrete offer within 4 months of them leaving formal education or becoming unemployed. The good-quality offer should be for a job, apprenticeship, traineeship, or continued education and be adapted to each individual need and situation.
The concept of the Youth Guarantee was endorsed by the G20 employment ministers meeting last week in Melbourne. And the Commission says the financial allocations are available, and that it can ensure - on the basis of submitted Operational Programmes - that all the EUR 6.4 billion of the Youth Employment Initiative will be committed in 2014-2015.

Many will now be watching closely to see that Member States implement without undue delay a key structural reform that requires in-depth changes to education, training and job-search systems in order to facilitate and accelerate the transition from education to employment.

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Nick Prag

Nick Prag

Nick Prag is founder and managing editor of Prior to EUbusiness, he was senior editor at Europe Online SA in Luxembourg, where he played a major part in the launch of Europe Online International.