Since 2013, the Union and its Member States have engaged in an ambitious strategy to reduce youth unemployment. Following a proposal from the Commission, all Member States adhered to the establishment of a Youth Guarantee, which is a political commitment, in the form of a Council recommendation of April 2013, to give every young person a good-quality offer of employment, continued education, an apprenticeship or a traineeship within a period of four months of becoming unemployed or leaving formal education. The establishment of the Youth Guarantee went hand-in-hand with policy guidance and financial support from the EU level, notably through the Youth Employment Initiative.
Three years on from the launch of the Youth Guarantee, there are 1.4 million fewer young unemployed in the EU. By 2015, annual youth unemployment rates had dropped by 3.4 percentage points to 20.3 % and the number of people who are not in employment, education or training (NEET) had decreased by 1 percentage point to 12 % on average in the EU. Youth unemployment and NEET rates are very uneven across the EU but both rates have decreased in most Member States. During the same period, unemployment dropped faster for the population of young people than for the adult population, in the EU as a whole as well as in many Member States. This suggests that the structural reforms of labour market, education and training policies supported by the Youth Guarantee have made a difference.
Key features of the Youth Guarantee
The Youth Guarantee ensures that all young people under the age of 25 receive a good-quality offer of employment, continued education, an apprenticeship or a traineeship within four months of becoming unemployed or leaving formal education.
The Youth Guarantee covers all young people not in employment, education or training (NEETs). NEETs are, however, a heterogeneous group and can be further subdivided into two broad categories: unemployed NEETs are actively looking for work; inactive NEETs are not looking for a job. Inactivity can result from a variety of factors, including family responsibilities and health issues but also discouragement and a lack of incentive to register as unemployed.12
The coordination of national Youth Guarantee schemes falls in most cases upon the ministry in charge of labour, while public employment services generally act as the main entry point. Alternative providers (including chambers of commerce, industry and crafts, youth centres, education institutions and providers and municipalities) are involved in about one third of Member States, and young people can register through specific online Youth Guarantee platforms in three Member States.
While a majority of Member States target young people under the age of 25 as set out in the Council Recommendation, 13 Member States have extended coverage to target those under the age of 30. In most Member States, the time limit for delivering an offer is set at four months, in line with the Council Recommendation.
The Youth Guarantee has become a reality across the EU. 14 million young people have entered Youth Guarantee schemes since January 2014. Around nine million young people took up an offer, the majority of which were offers of employment. Almost two thirds of young people who left the Youth Guarantee in 2015 took up an offer of employment, education, traineeship or apprenticeship. The Youth Guarantee has significantly facilitated structural reforms and innovation in policy design across Member States. It is complemented by other initiatives such as the new Skills Agenda or the Alliance for Apprenticeship. Nevertheless, youth unemployment remains unacceptably high and many challenges still need to be addressed by Member States. Continued political commitment to the Youth Guarantee as a long-term, structural reform will be required in order to effectively reap the benefits of the work carried out so far. Greater internal coordination and capacity building among those involved, such as public employment services and education and training providers, will consolidate promising partnerships and improve delivery. And finally, much more remains to be done to bring hard-to-reach groups and those furthest away from the labour market to the Youth Guarantee pathway.
Significant EU financial support was mobilised in support of this process. Over the 2014- 2020 period, the European Social Fund will directly invest at least EUR 6.3 billion — in addition to the Youth Employment Initiative — to support the integration of young people into the labour market under the same investment priority.
In addition, the Youth Employment Initiative (YEI), with an initial EUR 6.4 billion financial resource, has for the first time ever provided direct targeted support to young NEETs living in regions struggling with youth unemployment rates higher than 25%. In 2015, the Commission decided to speed up the implementation of the YEI by increasing the pre- financing to Member States by almost EUR 1 billion. Based on the initial results and on the assessment of needs until 2020, the Commission has just proposed to prolong the funding of the YEI by adding EUR 1 billion from the EU budget, to be matched by the same amount from the European Social Funds allocation of the eligible Member States.
Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story at The Youth Guarantee and Youth Employment Initiative three years on
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