Employment, Social Affairs & Inclusion

News 29/09/2020

Commission evaluation shows that EU support for youth employment has provided clear benefit to young people

The Commission’s staff working document presents the main findings of the evaluation of the ESF and YEI support to youth employment during the period 2014-2018.

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Overall, the evaluation has found that EU support in the Youth Employment Initiative (YEI) and European Social Fund (ESF) has provided a clear benefit as it has increased the amount of youth employment initiatives and the number and range of young people receiving support. The specific focus on youth employment has raised the profile of youth employment issues across the EU. 

Particularly helpful in this regard has been the emphasis on the needs and problems of young people not in employment, education or training (and not just the unemployed), with a greater focus on the disadvantaged and the upper end of the age bracket (from 25 to 30 years old).

The evaluation recommends that future programmes continue to identify and recruit young people not in employment, education or training to youth employment operations. This requires taking a range of innovative approaches, especially as the proportion of low skilled inactive people increases.


The EU has provided support to youth employment in an evolving context. In 2014, 13.4 million young people across Europe were considered as not in employment, education or training (NEET). Since then the high youth unemployment rate has fallen, mainly due to EU-wide positive social and economic developments between 2014 and 2018.

As a result, economically inactive young people make up now a greater proportion of the NEET population, which is a group generally more difficult to identify and access.

The EU and Member States are investing an estimated €22 billion in youth employment operations for the whole 2014-2018 programming period.

The total number of participants in the EU’s YEI and ESF until 2018 was 3.8 million, of which just under half were women and 70% were under 25 years old (the remainder are between 26 and 29 years old). For both the ESF and YEI, the majority of participants are low skilled.

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