As a matter of fact, during the financial crisis youth unemployment went up from 16% to 26% within the EU. The same goes for the COVID19 crisis, when the youth unemployment has increased from 15% to 17.8 %.
Although the decline of young people’s engagement in the labor market can be explained by a longer enrollment in education, it also shows deficiencies when it comes to tackling the NEET (not in education, employment or training) youth. Due to the Covid19 outbreak the share of NEET within the EU rose from 12.6% in 2019 (the lowest in 10 years) to 13.7% in 2020. In addition, half of the young workers are informally employed which makes the youth one of the most precarious age groups.
In order to face this situation, the EU has developed different strategies that will be explored in this article.
The first one is the Next Generation EU, a temporary instrument designed to support the recovery. Next Generation EU is the largest stimulus package ever financed in Europe. It has the youth at its heart with more than 22 billion euros to support youth employment.
On the other hand, the Youth Employment Support Package was launched in 2013 for the first time. Through this package, the Youth Guarantee ensures that all young people up to the age of 25 receive a good quality job offer, continued education, an apprenticeship or a traineeship within four months of leaving formal education or becoming unemployed. To meet the social demands following the latest events some changes have been added to this program:
- The targeted age group is from 24–29-year-olds.
- There is a widening of the outreach to more vulnerable youth groups, such as racial and ethnic minorities and the disabled.
- Ensures better matching the needs of companies with the right skill sets.
- Provide tailored guidance and mentoring.
The EU has as well set up the European Skills Agenda, a five years plan to help individuals and businesses. This Agenda focuses on skills for jobs by partnering up with Member States by using the EU budget as a catalyzer to unlatch public and private investment in people’s skills. It also builds a clear strategy to ensure that skills lead to employment. The goals set through this Agenda are ambitious and will be monitored semesterly with existing indicators.
It can therefore be stated that the EU has not left behind its youth, even though these numerous initiatives are still perfective, the youth is at the heart of the EU policies.
As Ursula von der Leyen declared “Young Europeans deserve opportunities”, it seems that the third largest economy in the world steps into the future with hope and determination.