What is the Youth Guarantee?
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
- continued education,
within a period of four months of becoming unemployed or leaving formal education.
All EU countries have committed to the implementation of the Youth Guarantee in a Council Recommendation of April 2013.
What has been achieved so far?
The Youth Guarantee has become a reality across the EU and has helped to improve the lives of millions of young Europeans.
- More than 5 million young people have registered in YG schemes each year since 2014.
- Since 2014, each year more than 3.5 million young people registered in the YG took up an offer of employment, continued education, a traineeship or an apprenticeship.
- More than two thirds of young people who left the Youth Guarantee in 2016 took up an offer of employment, education, traineeship or apprenticeship.
- The Youth Employment Initiative has provided direct support to over 1.7 million young people across the EU.
Four years on from when the Youth Guarantee took off, young people’s labour market performance has improved significantly:
- There are almost 2 million fewer young unemployed in the EU and 1 million less young people not in employment, education or training (NEETs).
- Youth unemployment has dropped from a peak of 23.7% in 2013 to 18.7% in 2016.
- The share of 15-24 year olds not in employment, education or training (NEETs) has fallen from 13.2% in 2012 to 11.5% in 2016.
Even if such trends should be seen in the context of cyclical factors, the Youth Guarantee accelerates progress by increasing opportunities for young people.
The Youth Guarantee has significantly facilitated structural reforms and innovation in policy design across EU Member States. In 2013-2015, Member States adopted a total of 132 labour market measures targeting young people, highlighting a strong focus on youth employment policies. Member States can be divided into three groups according to the degree to which the Youth Guarantee has acted as a driver for reform.
Significant reforms and innovative measures have been introduced within the framework of national Youth Guarantee schemes.
- For instance, in Bulgaria, a network of youth mediators was put in place in 2015 to reach out to non-registered NEETs in their direct environment and activate them. Youth mediators act as intermediaries with public institutions that provide social, health, educational and other services.
- The apprenticeship system in Spain has undergone significant structural reforms, leading to an increase in the number of apprentices from 4 000 to 15 000 in just three years (between 2013 and 2016). During the same period, the number of enterprises participating in apprenticeship training grew from barely 500 to 5 660.
- In 2015, Finland launched one-stop guidance centres for youth, which aim to strengthen and simplify services for young people and to eliminate the duplication of activities. Located in 35 municipalities so far, they provide low-threshold support to all young people below the age of 30, including personal advice and guidance, support in life management, career planning, social skills, as well as education and employment support.
In the Commission Staff Working Document on the implementation of the Youth Guarantee and the operation of the Youth Employment Initiative you can find an overview of further national reforms and measures.
How have Youth Guarantee schemes been set up?
Developing and delivering a Youth Guarantee scheme requires strong partnerships between all the key stakeholders: public authorities, employment services, career guidance providers, education & training institutions, youth support services, business, employers, trade unions, etc.
Early intervention and fast-acting measures to support young people's activation are essential and, in many cases, structural reforms are needed, such as improving vocational education and training systems and strengthening the public employment service's (PES) capacity to implement the Youth Guarantee.
The EU has supported Member States in establishing their national Youth Guarantee schemes through substantial financial as well as policy support and mutual learning activities. In particular, the European Commission has helped each Member State to develop and deliver its own national Youth Guarantee Implementation Plan. Further, the Commission also facilitates the sharing of best practices between governments, in particular through the European Employment Strategy Mutual Learning Programme.
Cost-benefits of a Youth Guarantee
Recent research estimates the benefits of establishing a national Youth Guarantee scheme much higher than the costs. The total estimated cost of establishing Youth Guarantee schemes in all Member States of the European Union is around 50 bn a year, or around 0.39% of GDP (Source: EUROFOUND - Social Inclusion of Young People).
However, inaction would be much more costly. Young people not in employment, education or training are estimated to cost the EU €162bn (1.21% of GDP) a year – in benefits and foregone earnings and taxes (Source: Eurofound - Mapping youth transitions in Europe).
Not all Youth Guarantee measures are expensive. For example, a strengthened partnership between stakeholders is effective without requiring large budgets.
To make the Youth Guarantee a reality, national budgets should prioritise youth employment to avoid higher costs in the future. The EU will add to national spending on these schemes through the European Social Fund and the Youth Employment Initiative.