Ana Maria Ducuta: Four cornerstones to battle youth unemployment

Posted: 2015-01-28
Written by: EU Network
Category: EaPYF2015
Tagged: youth-policy youth-package sweden politics finland europe ana-maria-ducuta

Editor's note: The idea of a Youth Guarantee is becoming more popular across Europe: Sweden and Finland have already gone ahead. Fresh opinion by Ana Maria Ducuta. Ana Maria is a Master's Degree Student of International Relations, PhD candidate in History and also popular writer.

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The economic crisis has been knocking down economically consolidated countries and raising unemployment rates. The most affected of this crisis came to be the young graduates, who, after having graduated, have to confront the ugly truth: no available working places in accordance with their educational background or no workplace at all.

Thus, at the level of the European Union, the matter of more cohesive and strong youth policies has become a priority on the European Agenda. It has been agreed that if action will not be taken now, youth unemployment will become a truly big problem in some decades, which will damage the entire political, social and economic profile of each any every country, and finally would weaken the entire structure of the European Union. Thus, on 28th of February 2013 the EU Social Ministers Council has agreed to adopt a European-wide Youth Guarantee. The most important measures promoted by the European Youth Guarantee are concerning programmes to subsidise the creation of jobs for young people, strengthening education systems and building up training systems based on dual education. The Council of the European Union has issued a recommendation on the establishment of a so-called Youth Guarantee. The recommendation agreed upon is not a legally binding act but nevertheless reflects a strong political commitment. The text is expected to be formally adopted in the spring, after final checks by the Council's legal-linguistic experts have been carried out.

The problem of unemployment

The statistics about youth employment lately show that youth unemployment rates were much higher than unemployment rates for all ages. High youth unemployment rates do reflect the difficulties faced by young people in finding jobs. The youth unemployment rate in the EU-27 was around twice as high as the rate for the total population throughout the last decade.

The idea of a „youth guarantee” or a „job guarantee” is basically centered on the ensuring equality of opportunity for all young people in the labour market. The reasons for youth unemployment are related not only to economic crisis or to the educational and youth policies from European countries, but mostly to the fact that many young people lack the required practical skills to find a job. The transition from education to employment is difficult, as most of young graduates have not had the chance to previously work.

The consequences of unemployment of young people lead not only to lower future incomes, job satisfactions and lower self-confidence, but also to poverty and social exclusion.

What is it about the „Youth Guarantee?”

Implementing the Youth Guarantee requires member states to establish strong partnerships with schools and universities, training providers, employment services, social partners, career guidance providers, and youth support services and youth organisations to ensure early intervention and action. Member states can make full use of the European Social Fund and other structural funds, and will be required to assess and continuously improve their Youth Guarantee schemes The Youth Package is based on four cornerstones: quality standards for internships, promoting mobility, a European Youth Guarantee and strengthening dual training systems, whereby the social partners are to be involved in developing the quality standards for internships. In order to reduce the immense youth unemployment rates, young people shall become more mobile. Apart from that, internships and vocational training shall take place across regional and national borders. 

The Youth Guarantee is a response to the worsening youth employment conditions in Europe. It's intended to provide for a smooth transition between school and work, to support labour market integration and to make sure no young person is left out. Based on a European Commission proposal, the Youth Guarantee Scheme will aim to ensure that all people under 26 are offered a job, training or education within four months of leaving school. At present, internships are mostly unregulated and often prove little formative training. In extreme cases, they turn into unpaid exploitation of youth, who in fact are used to replace regular workers. The package will also launch a consultation on the Quality Traineeships Framework, to make sure that traineeships help young people move into employment rather than replacing regular jobs. The Commission will set up a European Alliance for apprenticeships to support cooperation in the field of vocational education and streamline existing provision.

In conclusion, the Youth Guarantee does not represent a „guarantee” only for youth, but for Europe also, enhancing the possibility of a better future for all European citizens.

Examples of youth guarantee programmes

In Sweden, after 90 days of unemployment, youth are referred to the programme for four months. They initially get educational and vocational guidance, and job search coaching, and then work experience, education, training, business start-up grants or employability rehabilitation. A person in the 18-24 age range can participate for up to 15 months. The cost in 2010 was less than €6,000 per participant.In Finland, within the first three months of unemployment, a registered youth has to be offered a job, academic education, vocational training, or another measure to improve job prospects. The youth guarantee scheme targets people below age 25 who are finishing school and do not have a job or a place in an education programme.

From 2013 it will be expanded to graduates under age 30.

Ana Maria Ducuta

Oiriginal publication is available on the One Europe.

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