A successful approach to youth unemployment requires a concerted, long-term effort that joins the forces of the public and private sectors, writes Giuseppe Porcaro. (Giuseppe Porcaro is the secretary general of the European Youth Forum -YFJ)
Despite the renewed political focus on the need to create jobs for young people, accessing the labour market remains a daunting prospect for millions of young Europeans. The latest figures from Eurostat tell the harsh truth that almost one in four young EU citizens is unemployed. This persisting youth unemployment crisis has huge consequences for young people in terms of their quality of life, autonomy and levels of social inclusion, and urgent action is now needed to tackle this problem. As European leaders meet this week in Brussels, they have a unique opportunity to address the different facets of this complex problem by encouraging EU member states to adopt and implement the necessary measures to create and sustain quality jobs for young people in Europe.
EU institutions and national governments have already taken a number of concrete steps. With the flagship Youth Guarantee scheme, EU member states have committed to ensure that all young people up to the age of 25 receive a high-quality offer of a job, an apprenticeship or a traineeship within four months of becoming unemployed or leaving formal education. However, the proposal suffers from several limitations, such as a lack of credible resources and the need to extend the guarantee to people under 30 years old, which the Youth Forum has repeatedly highlighted. Moreover, to strengthen their credibility and effectiveness, this and other schemes, such as the Youth Employment Initiative or the European Alliance for Apprenticeships, need to be rapidly and thoroughly implemented by EU member states.
Youth unemployment is far too complex a problem to be addressed with short-term solutions. If we wish to ensure that the next generation of Europeans is prepared to face the challenges of an ever more competitive labour market, we need to take a holistic approach and deal with all the factors that impact their professional opportunities. In this regard, providing young people with skills that match the needs of the market, and in particular IT skills, should be a priority.
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