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EU calls for immediate action to drive down youth unemployment



The new 'Youth Opportunities Initiative', adopted by the Commission, calls on Member States to work on preventing early school leaving; helping youngsters develop skills relevant to the labour market; ensuring work experience and on-the-job training and helping young people find a first good job.

The Commission is also urging Member States to make better use of the European Social Fund which still has €30billion of funding uncommitted to projects. In addition, the Commission has put forward a set of concrete actions to be financed directly by EU funds.

Mr László Andor, EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion stressed the urgency to tackle the youth jobless rate saying: “The current situation for young people in many EU countries today is becoming dramatic. Without decisive action at EU and national level we risk losing this generation with a heavy economic and social cost". Underlining that estimates show that the burden on society of current youth unemployment levels is about €2bn each week, or just over 1% of EU-27 GDP, the Commissioner added: "The current trend cannot continue, we must give young people hope. They are our future."

In detail

The main actions financed directly by the Commission in the new 'Youth Opportunities initiative' are:

  • using €4m to help Member States set up 'youth guarantee' schemes to ensure young people are either in employment, education or training within four months of leaving school;
  • dedicating € 1.3 million to support the setting up of apprenticeships through the European Social Fund. An increase of 10% by the end of 2013 would add a total of 370,000 new apprenticeships;
  • using €3m of the European Social Fund Technical Assistance to support Member States in the setting up of support schemes for young business starters and social entrepreneurs;
  • gearing funds as much as possible towards placements in enterprises and targeting at least 130,000 placements in 2012 under ERASMUS and Leonardo da Vinci,
  • providing financial assistance in 2012-2013 to 5,000 young people to find a job in another Member State through the 'Your first EURES job' initiative
  • reinforcing the budget allocation for the European Voluntary Service in order to provide at least 10,000 volunteering opportunities in 2012
  • presenting in 2012 a framework for high quality traineeships in the EU
  • ensuring around 600 further exchanges under Erasmus for entrepreneurs in 2012.

The actions proposed by the Commission will pave the way for Member States to develop further youth-related measures under the next generation of European Social Fund programmes and as part of the EU budget 2014-2020.