Employment, Social Affairs & Inclusion

Youth employment support

The EU supports Member States in reducing youth unemployment and inactivity. The aim is to help young people develop their potential to shape the future of the EU and propel the digital and green transitions forward.

Why is the Commission sharpening its focus on youth employment?

During the aftermath of the global 2008 financial crisis, youth unemployment went up from 16.0% in 2008 to a peak of 24.4% in 2013. The figures went down dramatically since, with record lows of 14.9%, just before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. However:

  • youth unemployment always remained more than twice as high as general unemployment
  • a stable labour market integration started to take longer, with many job-to-job transitions and spells of precarious work
  • vulnerable groups, such as youth of racial and ethnic minorities or young people with disabilities, continued to be disadvantaged throughout this period
  • youth inactivity did not decrease nearly as much as youth unemployment

To build back better from the new economic downturn triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Commission adopted a Youth Employment Support communication in 2020.

Key actions

The 2020 Youth Employment Support package is built around four strands that together provide a bridge to jobs for the next generation:

  • The EU created the Youth Guarantee in 2013. It has since helped over 24 million young people. Based on a Commission proposal, the 2020 Council Recommendation on a reinforced Youth Guarantee keeps the pledge that if you sign up, you will receive an offer of employment, education, apprenticeship or traineeship within four months. Moreover, it is broadened to 15-29 year-olds, more inclusive to avoid any forms of discrimination, and more future-proof to profit from the digital and green transitions.
  • Based on a Commission proposal, the 2020 Council Recommendation on vocational education and training aims to make systems more modern, attractive and fit for the digital and green economy. Agile, learner-centred vocational education and training will prepare young people for their first jobs and gives more adults opportunities to enhance or change their careers. It will help vocational education and training providers to become centres of vocational excellence, while supporting diversity and inclusiveness.
  • A renewed impetus for apprenticeships benefits both employers and young people, adding a skilled labour force to a wide range of sectors. The European Alliance for Apprenticeships has made available more than one million opportunities. The renewed Alliance will promote national coalitions, support SMEs and reinforce the involvement of social partners.
  • Additional elements supporting youth employment link to the mutual learning capacity of the European Network of Public Employment Services, the Action Plan for the Social Economy and a stronger evidence base on access to social protection for young people.


The Commission urges Member States to step up youth employment support by making use of the significant funding available under NextGenerationEU and the long-term EU budget. At least €22 billion should be spent on youth employment support.

For example, the EU can help fund:

  • start-up grants and loans for young entrepreneurs, mentoring schemes and business incubators
  • bonuses for SMEs hiring apprentices
  • training sessions to acquire new skills needed on the labour market
  • capacity-building of public employment services
  • career management training in formal education
  • investments in digital learning infrastructure and technology

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