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Youth employment: the EU measures to make it work

Youth unemployment remains a key concern in Europe. Find out what measures the EU has put in place to help. Employment and youth policies are the responsibility of member states. However, the EU has launched a number of initiatives complementing national policies as part of its measures to create a more social Europe.

This support focuses on funding youth employment programmes, improving the quality of apprenticeships and traineeships, offering international education and job opportunities and making it easier for young people to take part in volunteering projects.

Youth unemployment in numbers

The unsuccessful search for work and training opportunities creates feelings of isolation, dependence and uselessness in young people. Apart from this, there are negative effects on the economy and on an ageing society.

Young people were amongst the hardest hit by the 2008 economic and financial crisis with the unemployment rate of people under 25 in the EU peaking at almost 25% in early 2013 and levels of more than 50% in Greece and Spain. That had dropped to a record low of around 14% in 2019, but the corona pandemic pushed it up to 18.2% in 2021. However,recently there were signs of improvement, with youth unemployment down to 17.3% in May 2021 from 18.2% in April.

Funding youth employment programmes

Part of the broader Youth Employment Support Package, the reinforced Youth Guaranteeis an EU initiative to give everyone under 30 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 educationn.

The Youth Employment Initiative is the EU's main tool to help finance measures and programmes put in place by EU countries to carry out Youth Guarantee schemes, such as training and assistance for the young to find their first job, along with incentives for employers. The initiative especially supports regions in the EU that have a youth unemployment rate above 25%. The Youth Employment Initiative was integrated into the European Social Fund Plus (ESF+), for the 2021-2027 period. EU countries with a rate of young people not in employment, education or training (NEET) above the EU average should devote at least 12.5% of their ESF+ resources to young people.

The EU‘s programme in the fields of education, training, youth and sport is called Erasmus+, focusing on mobility and transnational cooperation. Started as a student exchange programme in 1987, it has become an umbrella programme covering school and higher education, vocational education and training, adult learning, youth non-formal and informal learning, and sports.

Erasmus+ enables students to study abroad, provides teaching and training opportunities for staff working in the education sector, supports traineeships and youth exchanges. Organisations, such as schools, universities, youth organisations, can also receive funding to create strategic partnerships and alliances with organisations from other countries.

The new Erasmus+ programme for 2021-2027 was adopted by Parliament 18 May 2021. MEPs secured an additional €1.7 billion in funding during negotiations with the Council, which brings the total budget to more than €28 billion. This is nearly double the funding for the previous programme. It focuses on social inclusion, the green and digital transitions and enabling more disadvantaged people to participate.

Source: European Parliament News


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