Employment, Social Affairs & Inclusion

Youth employment

Young people and newspaper articles in the foreground

The EU supports member states in reducing youth unemployment and increasing the youth employment rate in line with the wider EU target of achieving a 75% employment rate for the working-age population (20-64 years).

Factsheet: EU-wide factsheet on the Youth Guarantee and the Youth Employment Initiative - three years on

Why is it important that the EU encourages youth employment?

  • In 2016, more than 6,3 million young people (aged 15-24 years) were neither in employment nor in education or training (NEETs) in the EU.
  • More than 4.2 million young people (aged 15-24 years) were unemployed in 2016 in the EU.
  • Although it has decreased – from more than 23% in 2013 to less than 19% in 2016 – the youth unemployment rate is still very high in the EU (with peaks of more than 40% in several countries). Long-term youth unemployment is still at record highs.
  • The EU youth unemployment rate is more than double the overall unemployment rate (around 19% compared with 9% in 2016) and masks big differences between countries: there is a gap of more than 30 percentage points between the Member State with the lowest rate of youth unemployment (Germany at 7%) and the Member States with the highest rates, Greece (47%) and Spain (44%).
  • In 2016, the overall employment rate for young people (34%) were still four percentage points lower than they were in 2008.
  • 11% of those aged 18-24 were early school leavers in 2016.
  • High youth unemployment co-exists sometimes with increased difficulties in filling vacancies. This points to the existence of labour market mismatches, due to inadequate skills, limited geographic mobility or inadequate wage conditions.

Key actions

  • The Youth Guarantee is a commitment by all Member States to ensure that all young people under the age of 25 years receive a good-quality offer of employment, continued education, an apprenticeship or a traineeship within a period of four months of becoming unemployed or leaving formal education. It is based on the  Council Recommendation adopted in April 2013 following a proposal from the Commission.
  • In its December 2016 Communication Investing in Europe's Youth the Commission proposes a renewed effort to support young people:
    • Better opportunities to access employment
    • Better opportunities through education and training
    • Better opportunities for solidarity, learning mobility and participation
  • A new initiative is the European Solidarity Corps, which is aimed at creating opportunities for young people to volunteer or work in solidarity related-projects that benefit communities and people around Europe.
  • Quality Framework for Traineeships that proposes guidelines for traineeships outside formal education to provide high quality learning content and fair working conditions.
  • A European Framework for Quality and Effective Apprenticeships setting out common criteria to promote the quality and effectiveness of apprenticeships 


  • The Youth Employment Initiative (2013) is one of the main financial resources to support the implementation of national Youth Guarantee schemes. It has been established to directly support young people not in education, employment or training in regions with a youth unemployment rate above 25%.

Other actions

  • Your first EURES Job aims to help young people to fill job vacancies throughout the EU.
  • Supporting youth actions in Europe.

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