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Youth Employment Support

01 July 2020
by eub2 -- last modified 01 July 2020

The European Commission is taking action on 1 July to give young people all possible opportunities to develop their full potential to shape the future of the EU, and thrive in the green and digital transitions.


Why act on youth employment?

Today the European Commission is taking action to give young people all possible opportunities to develop their full potential to shape the future of the EU, and thrive in the green and digital transitions. During the aftermath of the global 2008 financial crisis, youth unemployment went up from 16.0% in 2008 to a peak of 24.4% in 2013. By late 2019, youth unemployment had fallen to 14.9%: the lowest rate recorded since records began, though still more than twice the average for general unemployment. As of April 2020, youth unemployment stood at 15.4% across the EU, with many fearing a spike ahead. Now is the time to direct our attention towards the next generation.

The Commission has already provided significant support to Member States to tackle the pandemic and to keep people in their jobs notably through EU funding and the SURE scheme. The Commission is now putting forward targeted initiatives to help young people to give them all possible opportunities to develop their full potential to shape the future of our continent. It is now for the Member States to prioritise these investments. At least €22 billion should be spent on youth employment support.

What is the Youth Employment Support package?

The 'Youth Employment Support: a bridge to jobs for the next generation' package aims to support young people who are entering the labour market. Its initiatives build on the Commission's ambitious recovery plan which provide significant EU financing opportunities for youth employment so that all Member States can invest in young people.

The Youth Employment Support package is built around four strands that together provide a bridge to jobs for the next generation:

  • a reinforced Youth Guarantee
  • a future-proof vocational education and training
  • a renewed impetus for apprenticeships
  • a number of additional measures to support youth employment.

The initiatives presented in this Communication contribute to the Commission's recovery strategy from the COVID-19 pandemic. They implement the European Pillar of Social Rights and support the New Industrial Strategy. Other Commission proposals, such as the European Skills Agenda for sustainable competitiveness, social fairness and resilience, adopted on the same day, contribute to boosting youth employment.

What EU funding will be made available to support Member States invest at least €22 billion in youth employment?

The Commission's proposals for NextGenerationEU and the future EU budget will allow for significant EU financing for youth employment.

In the short term, REACT-EU will add €55 billion to the ongoing 2014-2020 cohesion policy programmes. The top-up for the European Social Fund will be particularly relevant for the financing of youth employment initiatives. This additional funding will be allocated to Member States taking into account several criteria, one of which is the effect of the current crisis on youth unemployment.

The new Recovery and Resilience Facility with a budget of €560 billion yields an unprecedented opportunity to speed up the much-needed structural reforms identified in the framework of the European Semester and the digital and green transitions.

Under the future long-term EU budget 2021-2027, the European Social Fund Plus (ESF+) with a proposed budget of €86 billion will support the measures put forward in the Youth Employment Support package. To this end, the Commission proposed a strengthened commitment for those Member States to invest in youth employment measures where youth unemployment is particularly high. By dedicating 15% of their allocation, those Member States will have an important financing element for the proposal for implementing the Youth Guarantee.

Finally, many other funds could be used to support these initiatives, including, the European Regional Development Fund, the social window of InvestEU, Erasmus or the Digital Europe Programme.


Why does the Commission propose to strengthen the Youth Guarantee?

The Commission is presenting its proposal to reinforce the Youth Guarantee, originally launched in 2013, to respond to the current challenges posed by the Coronavirus crisis and better prepare young people for the future labour market opportunities, including for the green and digital transitions.

Replacing the existing (2013) Recommendation, the new proposal builds on the success story that has helped more than 24 million young people in seven years. It reinforces the framework to reach the ambitious goal of helping all young people, including those hardest to reach, who fall into unemployment or inactivity. What has not changed is the strong commitment to offer them a job, continued education, a traineeship or an apprenticeship within four months

How does the Bridge to Jobs differ from the current Youth Guarantee?

In its proposal on the Bridge to Jobs, the Commission is proposing to reinforce the Youth Guarantee as follows:

  • Cover young people aged 15 – 29 (up from 25)
  • Be more inclusive to avoid any forms of discrimination, with a wider outreach to more vulnerable groups, such as youth of racial and ethnic minorities, young people with disabilities, or young people living in some rural, remote or disadvantaged urban areas
  • Link in with the needs of companies, providing the skills required - in particular those for the green and digital transitions - and short preparatory courses
  • Provide tailored counselling, guidance and mentoring

The delivery of the Bridge to Jobs is carried out through stronger partnerships (e.g. with social services and employers). Member States will be encouraged to provide integrated service delivery, such as one-stop-shops. The quality of the offers is improved through the alignment with existing EU standards, such as the principles of the European Pillar of Social Rights or the Quality Framework for Traineeships.

Data collection and monitoring are also improved by a stronger focus on post-placement support. This will allow to better follow up on young people after they take up an offer, to ensure a sustainable labour market integration.

What has the Youth Guarantee achieved so far?

Over the last years, the Commission has supported Member States in offering young people stepping stones to enter the labour market. Launched at the peak of the previous youth employment crisis, the 2013 Youth Guarantee has had a significant transformative effect across many Member States. Partially thanks to the Youth Guarantee, before the COVID-19 crisis hit:

  • There were 1.7 million fewer NEETs in the EU in 2019 compared to 2013.
  • The youth unemployment rate (15-24) was down to 14.9% in 2019 (from 24.4% in 2013) and the NEET rate went down from 13.0% in 2013 to 10.1%.
  • Cumulatively, during seven years, over 24 million young people received an offer of employment, continued education, a traineeship or an apprenticeship through the Youth Guarantee, providing them with a stepping stone towards a bright career.

In addition to supporting individuals, the Youth Guarantee has triggered structural reforms in the labour market and education and training systems of EU countries, which should make them more responsive also in the current crisis. These structural reforms are most visible in the public employment services and education systems.

How can young people access the new Bridge to Jobs?

Young people who leave education and training or become unemployed should register with the national providers of the Youth Guarantee. In most EU countries, the public employment services have this role, but there are also other types of providers. Contact points in each Member State can be found through this website.

The aim of the Bridge to Jobs is that a young person can take up a quality offer of continued education, apprenticeship, traineeship or a job within four months of becoming unemployed or leaving formal education. During these four months, the young person should be made aware of all the options they may have and be guided towards an offer.

The Bridge to Jobs recommends tailoring individualised action plans, taking into account the young person's preferences and motivation in preparing the take-up of one of the four types of offers. The preparation can consist of counselling and guidance activities, validation of existing competences, and enhancing existing skills, including digital skills.


Why is the Commission acting on Vocational Education and Training?

Vocational education and training (VET) is a key element of lifelong learning, which equips people with the knowledge, skills and competences required by the labour market. It is a key element in implementing the European Pillar of Social Rights, Europe's main compass to make our societies more resilient, and in preparing for the green and digital transitions. Specifically, it strengthens principle 1 on the right to education, training and lifelong learning.

Half of young learners in Europe participate in vocational education and training, indicating that this is an important learning pathway for the young. At the same time, many more adults need to undertake continued and lifelong training. A future-proof vocational education and training policy in the EU is essential to prepare young people for their first jobs and help adults with job changes and access to new job opportunities.

The coronavirus pandemic has had an enormous impact on vocational education and training with work-based learning perhaps most gravely affected. Schools were closed and learning took place via distance learning and home-schooling. The economic recovery from the crisis is an opportunity to accelerate reforms in vocational education and training and strengthen its resilience notably by digitising learning offers and methods and agile adaptation to changing labour market needs.

Against this background, the Commission puts forward a proposal for a Council Recommendation on vocational education and training with a number of actions at both national and European level. For more details see the Skills Q&A.

What is the Commission proposing on apprenticeships?

While particularly impacted by the coronavirus lockdowns, apprenticeships should play a vital part in the recovery. They are an excellent way for people to gain real work experience to become ready for the world of work. They also act as an intelligent HR tool for companies looking to hire in the future. Apprentices we train now will be highly skilled workers in a few years' time, enhancing the productivity and competitiveness of companies small and big across the EU.

Therefore, the Commission will renew the European Alliance for Apprenticeships. Since its set-up in 2013, the Alliance has made available over 900,000 opportunities. The goal is to sustain the apprenticeship offers now as the EU will need the skilled workers in three years' time.. The reinforced Alliance will focus on the economic sectors that will be on the frontline of the transition to a climate neutral Europe. It will bring together governments, social partners, businesses, chambers, regions, youth organisations, VET providers and think tanks.

The renewed Alliance, embedded in the Pact for Skills, will in particular:

  • foster national apprenticeships coalitions;
  • support SMEs to provide apprenticeships;
  • mobilise local and regional authorities to provide more and better apprenticeships;
  • reinforce the involvement of trade unions and employers' organisations;
  • increase its support to the representation of apprentices.


What else is the Commission planning to support youth employment?

All the initiatives of the Youth Employment Support package aim to help the EU's youth, whether they are embarking on the difficult shift from school to work, or struggling with the first job-to-job transitions. Given that the barriers experienced by young people are wide-ranging, the Commission sets out additional measures contributing to youth employment:

  • The Commission will support the European Network of Public Employment Services and step up its mutual learning capacity. This Europe-wide network will be tasked to consider comprehensive mutual learning and exchange innovative practices to strengthen their capacity to support youth employment. This will include strengthening partnerships with other stakeholders and intensifying outreach to vulnerable youth.
  • The Commission will support stronger networks for aspiring young entrepreneurs. The support will pay particular attention to young women, and will promote self-employment in the digital and green economy.
  • The Commission's Action Plan for the Social Economy, scheduled for 2021, will also focus on youth. The social economy also yields entrepreneurial opportunities for the young, such as helping local communities, striking local green deals and activating vulnerable groups.
  • The Commission is examining the challenges related to platform work, and will propose in 2021 measures to improve the working conditions of people working through digital platforms.
  • The Commission will launch a study specifically on young people's access to social protection. The exercise will chart the qualifying conditions of various benefits across different forms of employment, enabling a much-needed exchange of good practice.

How will the Youth Employment Support package support young people working in the platform economy in particular?

Non-standard forms of employment, such as platform work, create new opportunities for young people to enter the labour market, but there is a need to address the gaps in access to social protection while further improving the working conditions. Funding will be made available be available from Next Generation EU and the long-term budget for social protection for young workers who were previously excluded and/or had limited access to social protection, as well as for training, start-up grants and loans for young entrepreneurs.

In parallel the Commission is paying particular attention to the situation of people working in the platform economy in the context of the Council Recommendation on Access to Social Protection, and will put forward in 2021 further measures to help young people working through digital platforms.

Commission Communication: Youth Employment Support: a bridge to jobs for the next generation

Proposal for a Council Recommendation on a Bridge to Jobs – reinforcing the Youth Guarantee

Proposal for a Council Recommendation on Vocational Education and Training

Source: European Commission