On 1st April 2014 a public hearing on the implementation of EU policies for youth employment took place at the European Economic and Social Committee. During this event, the European Commission, national experts and representatives of the civil society presented the impact study, currently conducted by the European Economic and Social Committee’s Labour Market Observatory (LMO) and shared their points of views on the new European instruments to fight youth unemployment.
A new set of European instruments to fight youth unemployment
In April 2013, the European Council has adopted a new Youth Guarantee. This new European instrument tackles youth unemployment and ensures that all young people under 25 get a good-quality offer within 4 months of them leaving formal education or becoming unemployed.
Member States are currently developing national Youth Guarantee Implementation Plans according to their national, regional and local circumstances. Each country details how the different stakeholders (public authorities, employment services, education and training institutions, employers, trade unions) will cooperate to fight youth unemployment.
The Youth Guarantee has an outcome-based and long term structural approach and requires that the good-quality offer is adapted to each individual’s need and situation.
The second new instrument is the Youth Employment Initiative (YEI), established in December 2013. This YEI is created for the most affected regions (example for regions where the unemployment rate of young people between 15 and 24 years old is over 25%) and it supports young persons not in employment, nor in education or training, who are thus unemployed or inactive. In each concerned region, the YEI will be developed through either a specific Operational Programme or a specific axis of the European Social Fund Operational Programme, implemented in this region. The whole financial envelope for YEI at EU level will be of 3 billion € for 2014-2020.
These two new instruments represent interesting opportunities for mountain areas, where the percentage of youth unemployment can be high. It offers new possibilities to specifically address the difficult access to jobs in defavorised areas.
Nevertheless, according to Max Uebe, Head of the “Sectorial Employment challenges, Youth Employment and Entrepreneurship unit” at the European Commission, the Youth Guarantee presents some challenges that Member States should carefully address such as an insufficient number of job, traineeship and apprenticeship offers, the difficulty to reach non-registered young people or its monitoring and evaluation system, which can be improved.
Maureen O’Neill, “President of the Section for Employment, Social Affairs and Citizenship” at the European Economic and Social Committee, stressed that the measures which are being taken to tackle youth unemployment must be seen as an investment: even if these actions need financial support, inaction would be much more costly.
It is also important to remind that young people are a diverse group (job ready but unemployed, lack of experience, lack of education…), therefore the solutions must be adapted to young people’s situations (good job-seeking infrastructures, traineeships, vocational training, subsidized employment, guidance for motivation, practical possibilities to complete their education…).
In addition, several social partners and representatives from the civil society, like Liliane Volozinkis from the European Association of Craft, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises and Clémentine Moyart from the European Youth Forum explained challenges that the EU youth employment policies should address: EU policies should contribute to promote only quality jobs, internships and apprenticeships; young people’s difficulties must be understood in order to provide them with a tailored solution, and young people should be involved in the design, monitoring and implementation of the schemes at European, national, regional and local level.
Be inspired: transferred Good Practices and solutions in your region
The LMO study focuses on the implementation of EU policies for youth employment in a selection of six Member States (Austria, Croatia, Finland, Greece, Italy and Slovakia) and aims to collect the positions of the social partners and organised civil society, to put forward their comments, ideas and recommendations and to identify good practices or difficulties encountered in the Member States. The final report of this study will be published at the beginning of May 2014.
Good practices and solutions, extracted from this study, were developed:
Part of the Youth Action Plan in Greece is focused on promoting entrepreneurship in rural areas. The promotion of entrepreneurship in these areas not only fosters youth employment but also reactivates the general economy of the areas and avoids their depopulation.
In Germany and Austria the cooperation between partners has been essential to limit unemployment. Through cooperation both young people’s and market’s needs can be given an answer. This cooperation is achieved through traineeship agreements between enterprises and educational institutions where compulsory traineeships are part of young people’s education.
The link between the education system and the labour market’s needs is a key for success tackling youth unemployment, as proved in countries like Finland. Young people need to develop different skills according to the professional career they want to pursue.
Changing the traditional thinking about vocational training which is often undervalued. Still many people think that vocational training is not as good as university to find an interesting job. Vocational training should be valorised and students should be encouraged to follow these educative courses.
A continuous evaluation system ensuring that the measures taken are being implemented correctly and effective. The measures taken to tackle youth unemployment should be followed to check if they are producing the expected result.
Member States can follow these good practices and solutions when implementing the EU policies to tackle youth unemployment.
You can see here the agenda and presentations here of the public hearing.15 April 2014