Employment of marginalised youth – Time to invest and innovate

Eurofound was represented at the national conference on ‘Investing in youth employment’ in Sydney on 19–20 September, organised by Yfoundations, Australia’s main youth homelessness organisation. The event brought together business leaders, government decision-makers and representatives of non-governmental organisations (NGOs), social partners and education providers to discuss ways to increase the employment of marginalised youth.

On 19 September the Head of Eurofound’s Living Conditions and Quality of Life Unit, Rob Anderson, presented findings of recent Eurofound research on issues affecting young people across Europe, particularly marginalised youth. Participants at the conference discussed school-to-work transitions, well-being for young people at work, engaging young people in training and what employers want.

His presentation emphasised that the main debate in the EU has centred on unemployment among young people (at 23% of 15–24 year-olds in the EU), the risks of that unemployment and the knock-on effects, particularly for marginalised groups such as those described below.


One key group of marginalised youth are those young people who are not in employment, education or training (NEET). The size of the NEET population across Europe (7.5 million aged 15–24) has led to a renewed sense of urgency to understand and deal with the problem. Eurofound’s report Young people not in employment, education or training shows that certain categories of young people are at higher risk of becoming NEET: for example, those with a low level of education, with an immigration background or with a disability. Mr Anderson indicated that the main challenge at EU level has been designing and implementing measures to reintegrate these young people into the labour market.

Young people with disabilities

Another marginalised group is made up of young people with health problems or disabilities. According to the Eurofound study on Active inclusion of young people with disabilities or health problems, an integrated approach from local authorities, social partners, employers and NGOs is essential for the inclusion of vulnerable young people, particularly in creating measures that are flexible to meet differing needs. This includes skills development, training and job placement, thus empowering individuals to take control of their own career paths. Employers also need support with recruitment, training and retention of young people with disabilities.

Innovation in EU countries

As the conference looked for innovations in the area of youth employment, Mr Anderson presented some positive examples of social innovation in various EU Member States, drawing on the report Social innovation in service delivery: New partners and approaches. This report looks at new relationships and roles for social partners, local government and youth NGOs.


Mr Anderson’s presentation concluded by highlighting policy responses taken at EU level. He spoke about the adoption of the Youth Guarantee in April 2013 and looked at its strengths and weaknesses as it aims to ensure that ‘young people up to age 25 receive offer of a job, continued education, an apprenticeship or a traineeship within four months of leaving education or becoming unemployed’.

Download his presentation: Youth employment in times of crisis: International innovations promoting youth employment (657 KB PDF)

Listen to his interview with ABC News

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