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Europe – Priorities to tackle youth unemployment

Young people face more difficulties in the labour market, especially if they are low skilled, exposed to long-term unemployment or stuck in the informal economy, where work is low paid and unprotected. In Capture d’écran 2014-03-26 à 08.56.21 June 2012, representatives of governments and employers’ and workers’ organizations from all over the world met at the International Labour Organization (ILO) and agreed on a call for action focussing on five areas: macro-economic policies, education and training for youth employability, labour market policies, youth entrepreneurship and rights at work.

Youth employment is bound to the overall employment situation. Therefore, macroeconomic responses must focus on growth and jobs at both national and European levels. Equipping young workers with work experience, including that gained in apprenticeships, is crucial to achieving impact and scale on youth employment, reducing the skills mismatch, easing transitions to work and making young people employable again.

Making young people employable again

One important step to be taken in order to bring down the high unemployment rate is to close the skills gap in youth labour markets. The skills mismatch has become a persistent and growing trend in Europe. Over-education and over‐skilling coexist with under-education and under‐skilling and increasingly with skills obsolescence brought about by long‐term unemployment. Evidence shows that there is a higher risk of mismatch for those at the bottom of the educational pyramid, which is reflected in relatively high unemployment rates for low‐skilled youth in comparison with high‐skilled youth.

Due to the growing phenomenon of over-education, youth are crowded out of the bottom of the educational pyramid, and less‐educated young people find themselves at the very back of the queue – even for those jobs for which they are best qualified.

Youth guarantees: a key instrument

The ILO strongly welcomes the decision of the European Commission to implement youth guarantee schemes in the regions most affected. This will help keep young people connected to the labour market. In addition, youth guarantees offer prospects for skills training and job-search support, equipping young people with work experience and helping them find decent jobs that meet their skills and aspirations.

Countries like Denmark and Sweden have already been tackling youth unemployment successfully through similar systems of job guarantees. It is expected that by the end of 2014, all 28 EU countries will have introduced a national youth guarantee. According to ILO estimates, youth guarantees can be implemented at an annual cost of 0.5 to 1.5% of gross domestic product, based on country conditions and the size of the eligible population. That is a modest investment for great benefits!

The current young generation is worse off than that of 20 years ago. It is urgent to address the youth employment crisis by focussing on employability. Europe cannot afford to go backwards. The ILO and the European Commission share this commitment and are cooperating actively on youth guarantee schemes and a range of other policy measures for youth employment.

Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story at Tackling Europe’s Youth Unemployment – The European.

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