An EU wide youth guarantee which will assure young people under the age of 25 a good quality offer of employment, continued education, an apprenticeship or a traineeship within four months of becoming unemployed has been secured.
Speaking following a meeting of European social protection and employment Ministers (EPSCO) in Brussels, Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton TD said today’s agreement is “a crucial step” in tackling the youth unemployment crisis that exists across Europe.
There are currently 7.5 million young people across Europe who are neither in employment, education or training (NEETS), representing 12.9 per cent of young Europeans (15 to 24). According to the Minister “The EU puts the estimated economic cost of this at 1.2 per cent of GDP, or more than €150bn. And the social costs are simply devastating, as youth unemployment has been shown to have lifelong effects and leave permanent scars”.
“The overall objective of guarantee schemes is to provide Europe’s youth with better prospects for their future by ensuring that supports are available to them to enter the labour market. When implemented, the Youth Guarantee will contribute to three out of the five Europe 2020 targets: increasing the employment rate, reducing the extent of early school leaving and lifting people out of poverty and social exclusion,” the Minster added.
The document agreed today recommends that each Member State should move quickly to implement Youth Guarantees in their respective countries, taking into account existing national, regional and local policies and objectives.
With regard to the Member States experiencing the most severe budgetary difficulties and higher rates of NEETs or of youth unemployment, gradual implementation can be considered to permit States to deal progressively with their budgetary positions while still acting in a more decisive way to tackle youth unemployment.
In addition to existing funding streams, on February 8 the European Council announced a Youth Employment Initiative amounting to €6bn for the period 2014-2020 to support measures aimed at addressing youth unemployment and in particular to support the Youth Guarantee.
Further work on how this funding will be allocated and its implementation will now be undertaken during Ireland’s Presidency.
In a recent article which appeared in the Public Affairs Ireland Journal, James Doorley, Deputy Director at the National Youth Council of Ireland outlined the extent of youth unemployment and stressed the importance of government policy to help young people find work. To view this article click here.