The Youth Guarantee is a European initiative to help young workers in the context of high youth unemployment, a key policy priority for the EU. This initiative aims to ensure ‘that all young people under 30 years of age receive a good quality offer of employment, continued education, an apprenticeship or a traineeship within a period of four months of becoming unemployed or leaving formal education’.
- Council of the European Union: Council Recommendation of 30 October 2020 on A Bridge to Jobs – Reinforcing the Youth Guarantee and replacing the Council Recommendation of 22 April 2013 on establishing a Youth Guarantee
The Youth Guarantee was set up by a Council recommendation in April 2013. Starting in 2014, all EU countries have now put in place comprehensive Youth Guarantee implementation plans, complying with the deadlines set by the European Council.
- Council of the European Union: Council Recommendation of 22 April 2013 on establishing a Youth Guarantee
- European Commission: The Youth Guarantee country by country
In terms of funding, the EU tops up national spending on these schemes through the European Social Fund (ESF) and the Youth Employment Initiative (YEI). The latter is one of the main EU financial resources supporting the implementation of Youth Guarantee schemes until 2023. The EU launched the YEI in 2012 to provide support to young people living in regions where youth unemployment was higher than 25%. The initial budget was €6.4 billion; however, given persistently high levels of youth unemployment, the EU increased this budget in 2017, 2019 and 2020, by a total of €2.5 billion, resulting in a total budget of €8.9 billion for 2014–2020.
- European Commission: Youth Employment Initiative
For 2021–2027, for simplification, the EU institutions integrated the YEI into the European Social Fund Plus (ESF+), while preserving the focus on youth employment. All Member States will have to invest an appropriate amount of their ESF+ resources in targeted actions and structural reforms to support youth employment, education and training. Member States with a rate of people aged 15–29 not in employment, education or training (NEET) above the EU average for 2017–2019 are required to devote at least 12.5% of their ESF+ resources to young people. The implementation of the Youth Guarantee is monitored through the European Semester.
Since November 2017, the Youth Guarantee has been considered to be essentially a fundamental right. According to principle 4 of the European Pillar of Social Rights (‘Active support to employment’), ‘young people have the right to continued education, apprenticeship, traineeship or a job offer of good standing within four months of becoming unemployed or leaving education’. The European Pillar of Social Rights Action Plan, proposed by the European Commission in March 2021 and followed by a declaration at the Porto Social Summit in May 2021, introduced new, ambitious targets for young people, such as reducing the rate of young people aged 15–29 who are NEET from 12.6% (2019) to 9% by 2030.
Evaluation of the scheme
A July 2020 Commission staff working document that accompanied the most recent Council proposal for the Youth Guarantee provides an overview of all the EU-level monitoring and evaluation conducted since the implementation of the Youth Guarantee began and examines the outcomes of various recent consultation activities. The document mentions a recent evaluation that concludes that the Youth Employment Initiative and the European Social Fund have helped to improve the employability of young people across the EU. Between 2014 and 2018, about 3.8 million young people participated in YEI and ESF youth employment operations. Some 3,300 projects and 14,600 small and medium-sized enterprises were supported. There were 1.4 million immediate results (offers of employment, continued education, apprenticeships and traineeships), with improved results over time, six months or more after participation. Overall, EU support has helped to reduce NEET numbers, especially in countries more dependent on EU funds for active labour market measures, and has helped to support and develop delivery and management systems.
- European Commission: Staff working document: Proposal for a Council Recommendation on a Bridge to Jobs – Reinforcing the Youth Guarantee
On 1 July 2020, the European Commission published a proposal for a Council recommendation to reinforce the Youth Guarantee. Owing to the potential negative impact of the COVID-19 crisis on young people, it was quickly adopted by the Council. The recommendation raises the age limit for benefiting from the guarantee from 25 to 29. It provides for better inclusion of young people from vulnerable groups, such as people who are NEET, women and people with disabilities.
- Council of the European Union: Council Recommendation of 30 October 2020 on A Bridge to jobs – Reinforcing the Youth Guarantee
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