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Creating chances for youth

Young people who have left education and training and are looking for work can face significant obstacles for a wide variety of reasons. And the financial and economic crisis has led to very high unemployment levels in this group. The ESF is devoting significant resources to helping them take their first steps into the jobs market.

There are some 94 million young Europeans aged between 15 and 29 years old. Many are at school or in further education and training, and others have found work and are building careers. However, a significant proportion is unemployed – and among these are many who have given up hope of finding a job. The ESF is funding thousands of projects and programmes across Europe which are helping young people get the know-how and opportunities they need to join the workforce. A specific emphasis is on helping those that are currently not in Employment, Education or Training (NEETs in official jargon).

  • Many ESF activities offer training opportunities to give young job-seekers the skills and qualifications that are in demand on the jobs market, including green skills that are increasingly needed. As low-qualified young people are more likely to be unemployed than those with qualifications, ESF projects focus on providing this group with the work-related skills that can lead to stable employment.
  • Young people can be unsure about the job-seeking process. ESF projects are supporting them with individual career guidance, CV writing and interview skills; and often accompany them through the job-application process and on into the first few months at work.
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  • Apprenticeships, company internships and short-term work placements are strongly supported, often in parallel with training courses. Working with potential employers and often supplying financial support, ESF programmes are giving many tens of thousands of young people the chance to join in working life and get valuable work-related skills and work experience. Such initiatives improve job prospects and often result in permanent positions.
  • Mobility is another focus of ESF activities. Projects are giving young people the language skills and work placements abroad that can help them move around the EU to places where their skills and qualifications are in demand.

The Youth Employment Initiative

Extra support for youth comes through the Youth Employment Initiative (YEI). This initiative makes at least EUR 6 billion available to the regions and individuals struggling most with youth unemployment and inactivity. The YEI concentrates on NEETs and on regions experiencing youth unemployment rates above 25%. It aims to make sure that in those regions where the challenges are most acute the level of support per young person is sufficient to make a real difference.

The YEI will amplify the support provided by the ESF for the implementation of the Youth Guarantee which aims at ensuring that all young people up to 25 receive a good quality offer of employment, continued education, an apprenticeship or a traineeship within four months of leaving formal education or becoming unemployed. In parallel, the ESF is providing important funding for the necessary long-term structural reform and investment in the future of young people and the economy.