Unemployed under-25s would be guaranteed an offer of a job, further education or training under proposed EU measures.
Around 7.5 million people aged 15 to 24 are not in employment, education or training. The economic crisis has made finding a job much harder. More than 1 in 5 young people are out of work. In Greece and Spain the figure is higher than 1 in 2.
To help them, the Commission is proposing a package of measures, including a recommendation for EU countries to implement a job and training guarantee programme for those aged under 25.
Under such programmes EU countries would ensure all young people receive a job offer, continued education, an apprenticeship or a traineeship within 4 months of leaving formal education or becoming jobless.
The Commission would support the national programmes by providing EU funding and by forming networks to exchange ideas on the best ways to get young people into work, training or apprenticeships.
Finland and Austria already have similar guarantee programmes in place. Such programmes programmes would cost taxpayers money – about €21 billion – but that is far less than the cost of leaving young people on the dole.
Apart from the hardship young people and their families suffer, the cost of youth unemployment to Europe's economy is equivalent to around 1.2% of EU GDP, or €150 billion a year (calculated as benefits paid out plus lost tax revenues and earnings).
Help needed now
It is also important to help out now rather than wait for the economy to recover. The longer young people remain unemployed and without work experience, the greater the risk they will be left out of the job market when the economy rebounds.
Across Europe around 30% of young people without a job have been unemployed for more than 12 months – 1.6 million in 2011, compared to 900 000 in 2008.
The package of measures is in response to a request from EU leaders and the European Parliament. It is a follow-up to measures already in place to help people to return to school, enrol in vocational training or get their first work experience.