Politics & Policies

Sweden – Youth Guarantee

This document describes how Sweden addresses and takes into account the Council recommendation of 22 April 2013 on establishing a Youth Guarantee.

High youth unemployment is a challenge Sweden shares with most other EU Member States. Youth unemployment is in fact one of Sweden’s most important societal challenges. Many young people have difficulties entering the labour market and unemployment in this group remains relatively high.

To address youth unemployment effectively, the Government has introduced major reforms in several areas to improve the resilience of the Swedish economy, addressing both structural and cyclical challenges. A number of measures have been undertaken in recent years to increase youth employment: reforms have been made in the areas of education, labour market and tax policy (see previous National Reform Programmes).

More specifically, the aim of the measures for youth is to support their entry into the labour market or to find a way to pursue and complete an education. In this context, it is important to acknowledge that young people are not a homogeneous group and it is therefore important to meet every individual’s needs…

Youth unemployment statistics

In 2013, almost 24 per cent, or 156 000 young people aged between 15 and 24 were unemployed – see Figure 1. This was close to the EU average, but compared with total unemployment in Sweden, which was 8 per cent 2013, youth unemployment is relatively high. Unemployment was slightly higer for young men (24.8 per cent), than for young women (22.3 per cent). 76 000 or nearly half of the unemployed young people are full-time students searching for a part-time or full-time job. Young people often become unemployed in connection with their transition from school to working life. The number of people aged 15 – 24 in employment 2013 was 507 000.

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However, compared with other age groups, unemployed young people generally have good opportunities to find employment, which means that most young people experience relatively short periods of unemployment. In 2013, about 60 per cent of the unemployed youth were unemployed for less than three months – see Figure 2.

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Labour market policy initiatives should target those whose need is greatest

Since 2006 Sweden has had a certain strategic policy for promoting youth employment, in line with the Council Recommendation on establishing a Youth Guarantee. The main reform of the new strategy was the establishing of a Job guarantee for youth in December 2007. The Swedish Job guarantee for youth is based on research that has shown that early programme placement of youth should be avoided as this can lead to ‘lock-in’ effects and thus lower search activity, which may increase the time in unemployment. The launch of the Job guarantee for youth brought about a priority system which assured that the measures were geared towards the individuals most likely to get stuck in long-term unemployment.

The Job guarantee for youth is directed towards young individuals who have been unemployed and registered as jobseekers at the Public Employment Service (PES) for at least three months. The initial focus in the Job guarantee for youth is on support and job search activities. The purpose of the strategy of placing a limited number of young people in a programme early on during unemployment is to avoid ‘lock-in’ effects on the participants, in the sense that their job search activity level is expected to decrease while in training or education, which may lower their chances of finding a job. The strategy is based both on research and on the specific situation in Sweden, where most youth are only unemployed for a short period of time. For instance, in 2012 Sweden had an average of 154 000 young unemployed persons, of whom 47 000, or nearly one third (which was the highest share in the EU), had been unemployed for less than a month and 60 per cent for less than three months. Given these statistics, it is natural to avoid measures other than support measures (job search activities etc.) for youth in Sweden early in their period of unemployment.

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