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Youth Guarantee & Employment Initiative in the spotlight – the road behind and ahead

The European Commission, this month, has adopted a communication that looks back on main achievements and lessons learnt, since the launch of the Youth Guarantee and Youth Employment Initiative (YEI) in 2013.

The communication highlights three years of European and national efforts to ensure that all young people under 25 attain a good quality job, apprenticeship, traineeship or continued education offer within four month of leaving formal education or facing unemployment. The Youth employment initiative (YEI) is one of the main EU financial resources to support the implementation of the Youth Guarantee – it complements national actions, and provides targeted support to young people residing in parts of Europe challenged with particularly high unemployment (25%). 

Answering to what progress the Youth Guarantee has made so far, the commission highlights:

  • Surpassing expectation set in 2013, there has since been a decrease of  1.4 million young unemployed in the EU  and around 900,000 less young people not in employment, education of training (NEET)
  • About 9 million youth accepted an offer, with over two thirds being proposed employment.
  • From the first quarter in 2013 youth unemployment decreased from a peak of 24.4% to 18.9% in this year’s second quarter.
  • Since 2014 about 14 million youth signed up for the guarantee schemes.
  • Although figures vary across countries, around 35% of young people who left the Youth Guarantee in 2015 had taken up employment or continued education 6 months later.

The Youth Guarantee has also acted as catalyst for policy change and structural reforms across member states, which include the rise of new multi- stakeholder partnerships, improved regulation of trainee and apprenticeships, expansion of public employment services, as well as enhanced outreach to young people.

Banking on continued progress of the Youth guarantee the commission proposed this month to extend resources for the YEI by EUR 1 billion, to be equally matched by the ESF. This brings the projected budget to EUR 2 billion, on top of allocations under the ESF, with an anticipated capacity to reach 1 million additional youth by 2020 most acutely affected by unemployment. The YEI holds a total budget (for all eligible EU member states) of EUR 6.4 billion for 2014-2020, and substantial pre-financing was released to member states in 2015. This 30% increase in advance payments by the Juncker Commission, spilled out about EUR 1 billion to support the swift set-up of national guarantee schemes and actions on the ground. Modernisation and reform efforts for education systems amount to around EUR 27 billion of the budget.

Challenges remain for putting into practice, what the Youth guarantee promises. The Communication underlines the need to accelerate implementation and emphasises a focus on those ’hard-to-reach’ young people facing many barriers, who are not registered with public services or are drop-outs.  Stepping up the quality of offers and services, investments in partnerships to improve delivery, and high political commitment to structural reforms, mark the way forward.

The depicted trends in securing young people in work or education since the guarantee launched, should be seen contextualized and consider cyclical factors. Unemployment remains a key priority on the agenda, with recent Eurostat findings showing that chances of becoming NEET considerably rise with age and by now affect almost 1 in 5 young Europeans aged 25-29 (see ACA Newsletter- Education Europe, August 2016). Two thirds of member states confront an increasingly deteriorating situation over the last decade in securing those aged 20-24 in employment or education, where the Youth Guarantee seeks to speed up and keep-up access to opportunities for a young generation facing ever changing challenges of globalized economies and societies.

European Commission - Communication on the Youth Guarantee and Youth Employment Initiative European Commission - Speech by Commissioner Thyssen on the report highlighting progress made by Youth Guarantee and Youth Employment Initiative