Commission President Ursula von der Leyen’s puts highly on the agenda the objective of ensuring greater equality and fairness for young people across Europe, and for young people to have the possibility to receive an education and work in a profession of their choice. However, there is still much work to be done: while youth unemployment in Europe (14.2% in November 2019) has marked its lowest levels since the crisis, it still represents a major policy challenge in some countries and regions where it reaches over 60%. Therefore, as set out by President von der Leyen, the Commission intends to further strengthen the Youth Guarantee.
Against this backdrop, some valuable lessons from the ESF Transnational Platform (TP) can be learned. In a paper from December 2017, the ESF TP reported their findings from various site visits, looking at best practices from across Europe regarding the promotion of employability among the most marginalised young people, in various countries:
- Czechia, re-activating ex-offenders;
- Belgium, activating clients through sports and recreational activities;
- Sweden, identifying and supporting young people at risk of gang recruitment and radicalisation;
- Spain, taking professional photos of young people and discussing how they can present themselves to others.
The paper came up with several recommendations, for policy makers and Managing Authorities, and for service providers. These recommendations strongly focus on thinking outside the box when it comes both to policy planning and policy delivery, regarding how to reach out to these youths but also on how to develop their soft skills. It is also strongly encouraged to undertake a holistic approach and to collaborate in close partnership across organisations, so as to provide support and solutions for the complex and varying challenges faced by young people, ranging from mental health issues to criminal pasts. The providers of these services are advised to identify relevant skills in youths, build trusted relationships with them, and diversify their team, both in terms of ethnicity and backgrounds. This last point allows service providers to better understand the cultural perspectives of the young people they are trying to help, and for young people to more easily identify with their helpers. Overall, these recommendations can provide useful guidelines for tackling youth unemployment.