This week the European Commission announced a proposal to make €1 billion (US$1 billion) available to EU member states, to help tackle youth unemployment across Europe. Part of the Youth Employment Initiative, the funds are expected to become available this year, and are forecast to help up to 650,000 young people enter the workplace more quickly.
The announcement reflects an ongoing recognition of the importance of reducing youth unemployment as quickly and effectively as possible across the region. Valdis Dombrovskis, vice president for the Euro and Social Dialogue, stated in a press release that the aim is to use the money to support the work of EU member states in getting young people into, and back into, work, education or traineeships. “In doing so,” he said, “they are not only able to contribute to the economy and society through their skills and dynamism, but they also regain their dignity.”
“Our young people need jobs… now”
The funds couldn’t come soon enough, according to the Commissioner of Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, Marianne Thyssen. “Our young people need jobs and they need them now,” she said. “It is unacceptable that today more than one young person out of five on the labour market cannot find a job. By making more funding available sooner, we can get more young people back to work.”
The proposal means one third of the €3.2 billion allocated across Europe to tackle youth unemployment over the coming years could be made available this year. It is estimated that projects benefitting from the funding could reach between 350,000 and 650,000 young people this year, compared to just 14,000 – 20,000 without the additional finances.
If approved by the European Parliament and Council, the increased budget could start trickling through to help young people across Europe over the coming months. EU member states would be expected to pass on the funding to participating projects immediately, including a range of schemes to help young people access training, work experience and permanent employment.
Continued investment in the “Youth Guarantee”
The European Commission is further addressing the issue of youth unemployment in a plan to invest heavily in the jobs market, designed to stimulate investment and international competitiveness. A total of €315 billion has been allocated for this purpose, expected to create millions of new jobs across Europe.
The EU’s Youth Employment Initiative is dedicated to ensuring young people receive support in accessing employment and training. The initiative’s Youth Guarantee has been agreed by all 28 member states, and enforces the commitment to “provide young people under 25 with a quality job offer, an apprenticeship or training within four months of leaving school or losing a job”.
In parallel to the Youth Guarantee, the Youth Employment Initiative utilizes its own funds to specifically target member states where youth unemployment exceeds 25%. This funding is used to support young people aged 25 or under (up to 30 in some member states), helping them to access first jobs, work experience, apprenticeships and traineeships, further education and training, business start-up support, and other relevant opportunities.