This Report emerges from a Conference that was held called ‘Youth Conference on the Future of Europe’ in the frame of the EU official Website ‘Conference on the Future of Europe’, which recently launched to give every EU citizen a voice and to speak up about different subjects e.g. Economy and Future, Sustainability, Europe in the World etc.
Our workshop, to which I refer in this report, had the headline ‘EU Economy and Our Future’ and talked about the ‘Youth Employment Support’, with the reinforced ‘Youth Guarantee’ and other tools the EU is using to tackle youth unemployment all across Europe.
In general, youth unemployment in Europe always remained more than twice as high as general unemployment. In March 2021, 2.951 million young persons (under 25) (17.1 %) were unemployed in the EU. The pandemic has led to sky-rocketing levels of youth unemployment in all the EU area (increase of 319.000 in EU compared to March 2020).
To focus on one thing, I chose to talk about the ‘Youth Guarantee’ (YG), which can be seen as a positive implementation the EU reinforced or as a failed opportunity, which is not reaching young EU citizens.
Have you, as a young european, ever heard about the YG?
If not, you are not alone. When we spoke about the YG in our Workshop no one knew that this existed. But what is the Youth Guarantee?
The Youth Guarantee got reinforced under the frame of the ‘Youth Employment Support’ and as well is part of the NextGenerationEU Pact, which is a Program launched by the EU to get out of the crises and for support after Covid-19.
‘The Youth Guarantee is a commitment by all Member States to ensure that young people between 15 and 29 receive an offer of employment, continued education, apprenticeship or traineeship within a period of four months of becoming unemployed or leaving education.’(1)
Sounds great, right? But if no one knows about it, especially the target group, how should it help people? And even after a young unemployed person may have found out that the YG exists, where to register?
After clicking through several ‘europe.eu’ websites, it is possible to find it but it is very hidden. Afterwards, you can click on an interactive map to find your country with the information for the local contact point. For example, in Germany there are just three contact points and after you have clicked on the link, the normal websites of the Youth Employment Agency opens up. So, where to register for YG then?
There occurs the problem, active unemployed youngsters will maybe take the initiative but that takes a lot of courage. But what about the inactive NEETs (Not in Education, Employment or Training)?
The EU wants to reach the NEETs and reduce the total unemployment rate of the EU, but that can not happen if they just reach active, better qualified and educated young people or people who are already in the EU-bubble and have easy access to the EU proposings and understand how the EU websites work.
In addition, the inadequate overall budget (the estimated necessary costs of a Youth Guarantee for the EU are around €45.4 billion per year, while the EU proposed €22bn(2)) meant that only a fraction of the NEETs could be achieved, by saying that the inactive NEETs benefitting the least. The number of inactive NEETs remained unchanged.
This shows that the efforts of the EU are a great initiative but in general do not reach the target group.
Additional efforts are needed like specific offers for early school leavers and economically and socially disadvantaged people should also be prioritized. (cf. Escudero / Mourelo 2015, 4). So far, however, no member state has carried out evaluations in this regard. (cf. European Court of Auditors 2017, margin nos. 22–30).
The fact that these young people in particular are not always easy to reach should not be an obstacle but an impetus for creative solutions. In an Irish city, for example, kick-boxing courses have proven to be a successful way to reach NEET youngsters, as in at the Youth Guarantee Conference in Brussels in April 2017.
(1) Ec.europa.eu. 2021. Youth employment support. [online] Available at: <https://ec.europa.eu/social/main.jsp?catId=1036> [Accessed 2 June 2021].
(2) Rautner, D., P. Völkerer and S. Hofbauer (2019), Jugendarbeitslosigkeit in Europa. Problemlagen, Bewertungen bestehender Initiativen und Handlungsoptionen, in N. Soukup (ed.), Neoliberale Union oder soziales Europa? Ansätze und Hindernisse für eine soziale Neuausrichtung der EU, Arbeiterkammer, 86-97