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Youth Guarantee five years on: Lessons learnt
The latest Eurostat figures show that the youth unemployment rate dropped from 18.7% in 2016 to 16.8% by the end of 2017. Since peaking at 23.9% following the 2008 financial crisis, youth unemployment has now fallen to just over 1 percentage point above the pre-2008 rate (15.1%), which shows the positive progress that has been made in this area over the last five years.
The Youth Guarantee scheme has been playing a key role in this progress since EU Member States committed to the implementation of the scheme in a Council Recommendation of April 2013. Aimed at giving every person under 25 a good-quality offer of employment, continued education, an apprenticeship or a traineeship within four months of becoming unemployed or leaving formal education, the Youth Guarantee has helped to improve the lives of millions of young Europeans. It’s supported by the Youth Employment Initiative, the main EU funding programme that facilitates its implementation.
What has been achieved so far?
According to the latest data from the European Commission:
More than 5 million young people have registered in Youth Guarantee schemes each year since 2014.
More than 3.5 million young people have taken up an offer of employment, education, traineeship or apprenticeship each year since 2014.
There are 2.2 million less young unemployed people in the EU and 1.4 million less young people not in employment, education or training (NEET) since 2013.
The share of 15-24 year-olds not in work, education or training dropped from 13.2% in 2012 to 10.9% in 2017.
Last year, the Commission launched a database of promising practices supporting young people in their transition from school to work. A majority of these schemes receive financial support from the Youth Employment Initiative and the European Social Fund.
Some of these practices entered the spotlight at last year’s Youth Guarantee Learning Forum. Organised by the Commission in Brussels, the forum enabled mutual exchange and learning between practitioners by sharing information about different measures delivered in the context of the Youth Guarantee.
Youth Mediators: The Bulgarian success story
The Youth Mediators initiative of Bulgaria was one of the inspiring practices highlighted at the Youth Guarantee Learning Forum. The primary objective is to identify young NEETs who are not registered with the Bulgarian Public Employment Service (PES), contact them, and inform them of careers’ services and opportunities for education, employment or training. In order to provide these services, youth mediators are first selected and trained on how to reach out to and communicate with NEETs, and to provide information and counselling support for activation.
The youth mediators are also taught how to engage with employers and educational institutions. After completing training, the soon-to-be youth mediator is then put in touch with the labour mediator from the local PES and a representative of the local Education Inspectorate to establish contacts with formal institutions.
Despite these achievements and the overall EU-28 rate continuing to fall, youth unemployment remains high in many individual Member States. The Commission acknowledges the importance of reaching out to the regions and young people most in need. One key way that the Commission intends to achieve this is through the launch of the European Social Fund Plus (ESF+).
Due to run from 2021-2027, the ESF+ will encompass the Youth Employment Initiative alongside a number of other Commission funds and programme such as the European Social Fund. The new fund is designed to allow the EU and Member States to provide more integrated and targeted support to people across Europe, including youth. This support will help to equip people with the skills and experience they need to succeed in a rapidly changing – and often challenging – labour market.
There will also be changes on a programme level, with EU Member States required to dedicate at least 10% of their ESF+ funding to supporting youth employment and the activation of young people on the labour market. With a proposed overall budget of €101.2 billion for the programming period, the potential of the ESF+ to help Europe’s youth to succeed is substantial.
“Europe wants to empower its people,” Commission Marianne Thyssen concluded when speaking about the rationale behind the ESF+. “Our new, flexible and simplified social funds are focused on investing in people: to make sure they have the right skills, to make sure they have modern social protection adapted to new forms of work, and to show solidarity with those who need it most.”
For an in-depth look into the Youth Guarantee scheme, see The Youth Guarantee in a nutshell.
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