Europe has begun to recover from the global financial crisis, but the recovery is slow and tentative, and as of July 2014, the EU youth unemployment rate was still at a high of 22 percent. Between 2007 and 2013, youth unemployment rates at least doubled in 12 European countries: Cyprus, Spain, Ireland, Greece, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Croatia, Italy, and Slovenia.
The European Union has taken measures to fight youth unemployment, in particular through preventive actions against early dropout from school, or by promoting training and apprenticeship schemes (e.g. by implanting a dual educational system or other equally efficient frameworks), to develop comprehensive strategies for young people who are not employed or enrolled in education or training and to implement the national Youth Guarantee Schemes in full.
As an approach to tackling youth unemployment, the Youth Guarantee Program ensures that all young people under 25 – whether registered with employment services or not – will get a good-quality, concrete offer within 4 months of leaving formal education or becoming unemployed. The Guarantee Program was inspired by a successful Finnish program, which brought employment rates from 79.2 percent in 2010 to 83.5 percent in 2011.
The EU member states have been unimpressed by the speed of the first results and have therefore not allocated the necessary credits to the Youth Guarantee Program 2016. The EU Parliament has, however, added 473 million Euros to fund contracts for new programs to help unemployed young people into jobs for this year. However, it is still unknown how the budget will be allocated, so it is hard to imagine what the impact on combating youth unemployment might be in the twelve months just ahead.
The EU Youth Strategy for the period 2010 – 2018 has set employment and entrepreneurship as one of its eight priorities. Also, Europe 2020 is the EU’s growth strategy, with five ambitious objectives – on employment, innovation, education, social inclusion, and climate/energy – to be reached by 2020. Within it, the Youth on the Move program aims to improve young people’s chances of finding a job by helping students and trainees gain experience in other countries, and improving the quality and attractiveness of education and training in Europe.
It is a comprehensive package of policy initiatives on education and employment for European young people. Launched in 2010, Youth on the Move aims to improve young people’s education and employability, to reduce high youth unemployment and to increase the youth-employment rate – in line with the wider EU target of achieving a 75 percent employment rate for the working-age population (20-64 years) – by making education and training more relevant to young people’s needs, encouraging more of them to take advantage of EU grants to study or train in another country, and encouraging EU countries to take measures to simplify the transition from education to work.
Additionally, the EU program for education, training, youth, and sport Erasmus+, which lasts from 2014 to 2020, has a budget of more than 14 billion Euros, reflecting the EU’s commitment to invest in these areas. The Erasmus+ program, which provides opportunities for over 4 million young Europeans to study, train, gain work experience and volunteer abroad, has a strong focus on innovation and entrepreneurship.
Having all this information in mind, it might be reasonable to believe in the ILO predictions that unemployment will slowly start to go down from 2016 on. According to the global expectations noted on the Trading Economics website, the youth unemployment rate in the EU is expected to be 19.67 percent by the end of the first quarter. Looking forward, the analysts at Trading Economics estimate that the youth unemployment rate in the EU will stand at 19.25 in 12 months’ time, while in the long-term, the EU youth unemployment rate is projected to trend downward to around 18.87 percent in 2020.
The year 2016 has already started, so it might be hard to challenge the predictions for the coming nine months, but there is a lot of time ahead of us before 2020. It might be worthwhile to use the available resources and try to beat down the youth unemployment rates predicted for 2020.