7 December 2020
Youth is the term used to describe the period between childhood and adulthoodRead more
Youth is the term used to describe the period between childhood and adulthood. While this may be a fluid definition, it is also used in policy terms to refer to specific age groups. Providing a good environment for young people to grow up, learn and work in is a key goal for Europe and for Eurofound – but one that faces particular challenges. Young people have long been an important focus of policy at EU level and this is particularly true today.Read less
Youth employment and issues affecting young people remain high on the EU’s policy agenda and there is strong concern that young people will be among the main victims of the COVID-19 crisis.Read more
Youth employment and issues affecting young people remain high on the EU’s policy agenda and there is strong concern that young people will be among the main victims of the COVID-19 crisis. Having already paid the highest toll of the previous recession, to avoid history repeating itself the European Commission has proposed a reinforced Youth Guarantee as a concrete policy instrument to tackle the employment and social consequences of COVID-19. This aims to ensure that ‘all young people under 30 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’.
This new initiative will build on previous actions carried out at European level. The Commission’s 2016 Communication ‘Investing in Europe's Youth’ was a renewed effort to support young people in the form of a Youth Package. The package supports better opportunities to access employment, via the Youth Guarantee and Youth Employment Initiative launched in 2013, better opportunities through education and training, as well as better opportunities for solidarity, learning mobility and participation.
As part of this effort, the latest EU Youth Strategy (2019–2027), adopted on 26 November 2018, sets out the framework for cooperation with Member States on their youth policies. Activities are grouped into three main areas of action, around the words ‘Engage’, ‘Connect’ and ‘Empower’.
The new Commission took office in December 2019 and in January 2020 presented its Communication A strong social Europe for just transitions. This prepared the way for an Action Plan to implement the European Pillar of Social Rights which reiterates the EU’s commitment to the Youth Guarantee. On 1 July 2020, the Commission launched a Youth Employment Support package structured around four strands to provide a ‘bridge to jobs’ for the next generation. The Commission put forward a proposal for a Council Recommendation on ‘A Bridge to Jobs – Reinforcing the Youth Guarantee’, to replace the 2013 Recommendation. This initiative will link in with the needs of companies to provide the skills needed, particularly for the green and digital transitions. It extends the age range covered by the Youth Guarantee from age 24 to 29. The package also includes a proposal on vocational education and training, a renewed impetus for apprenticeships and additional measures to support youth employment.
- European Commission: Investing in Europe’s youth
- European Commission: EU Youth Strategy
- European Commission: A strong social Europe for just transitions
- European Commission: The Youth Guarantee
- EUR-Lex: Youth Employment Support: A bridge to jobs for the next generation
Eurofound has carried out a large body of work on youth issues related to employment, quality of life and social cohesion. In light of the economic and social crisis following the COVID-19 pandemic, research continues to look at issues affecting young people in several topic areas, particularlyRead more
Eurofound has carried out a large body of work on youth issues related to employment, quality of life and social cohesion. In light of the economic and social crisis following the COVID-19 pandemic, research continues to look at issues affecting young people in several topic areas, particularly well-functioning and inclusive labour markets, quality of life and quality of society, as well as access to public services.
COVID-19 and its impact on young people
Eurofound’s unique e-survey, Living, working and COVID-19, provides an insight into the impact of the pandemic on people's lives, including young people, with the aim of helping policymakers shape the response to this crisis. Two rounds of the survey have been completed to date in April and July, allowing for comparisons between a situation of lockdown and the gradual reopening of society and economics across Europe.
Topics affecting young people include access to education, job loss, loneliness, mental well-being, working time, trust in institutions, access to public services and optimism for the future. The findings show that young people are again being hard-hit by the social and economic impacts of yet another crisis.
On 23 October 2020, Eurofound ran a joint webinar with the European Parliament Liaison Offices in Dublin and Stockholm on the difficulties facing young people during the COVID-19 pandemic, as highlighted in the survey, also exploring what policymakers can do to address these difficulties. The major concern is how young people will again be affected by the economic fallout from COVID-19.
- Blog: Youth in a time of COVID
- Event: Watch the webinar - Being young in the COVID-19 pandemic
- Publication: Living, working and COVID-19
- Data: Living, working and COVID-19 data
- Blog: Is history repeating itself? The impact of the COVID-19 crisis on youth
- Event: EYE Online - Eurofound panel debate: Being young during the COVID-19 crisis - Impact on work, life and well-being
- Database: COVID-19 EU PolicyWatch
The 2008–2013 crisis and jobs
In the aftermath of the 2013–2018 crisis, EU unemployment reached soaring levels, hitting 23.5% for the under-25s and going to even higher levels in individual Member States. With the help of the Young Guarantee and other measures, youth unemployment has made some recovery in recent years. But the questions remain as to where there are jobs and how young people can be helped. The reinforced Youth Guarantee will be crucial here to react to the COVID-19 crisis and to avoid another sharp increase in youth unemployment. Eurofound's research provides a broad range of inputs to developing youth policy, looking at:
- long-term unemployed youth
- start-up support for young people
- youth entrepreneurship in Europe
- mapping youth transitions in Europe
- youth and work and policy pointers towards improving it
- helping young workers during the crisis and the contributions of social partners and public authorities
- experiences of the Youth Guarantee in Finland and Sweden
- young people not in employment, education or training.
The focus of research has recently been adapted to examine the effects of COVID-19 on young people in Europe.
NEETs and exclusion
Alongside high unemployment, since 2008 the Member States have been dealing with the disproportionate impact of the recession on young people under 30, even those with higher levels of education. The number of those aged 15–29 who are not in employment, education or training (NEET) rose rapidly after 2008, but has been declining again since 2014 returning to pre-crisis levels by 2018. Yet the rates remain high in some Member States, particularly Italy and Greece. Eurofound seeks to understand the economic and social consequences of youth disengagement from the labour market and education.
Research in 2020–2021 focuses on the social situation of young people, particularly NEETs, 10 years after the Great Recession, also examining the impact of the current COVID-19 crisis on young people and the initiatives adopted in EU Member States to mitigate it. It will also look at the implications for young people of the increase in digital solutions.
- Topic: NEETs
Some young people face particular difficulties in accessing employment: for example, those who have a disability or other health problem are 40% more likely of becoming NEET than others. A policy of active inclusion is seen as the most appropriate for addressing these difficulties. Eurofound has analysed active inclusion policy for young people with disabilities or health problems in 11 EU Member States.
Youth dimension in Eurofound’s surveys
The youth dimension is relevant across many areas of Eurofound research, including its surveys.
The online survey Living, working and COVID-19 offers an insight into the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on various aspects of the lives of people across Europe. Two rounds of the survey have been completed to date, in April and July, aiming to investigate the impact of the crisis on quality of life and quality of society, working conditions and telework, the financial situation and security of people living in Europe, as well as access to public services during the pandemic. The data from both rounds enable comparison by age group between the situation during lockdown with the gradual reopening of society and economies three months later.
The European Quality of Life Survey (EQLS) 2016 found important differences between age groups in relation to quality of life, social inclusion, the quality of society and access to public services. EQLS data have also been used to compile a policy brief on the social situation of young people in Europe.
The European Working Conditions Survey (EWCS) 2010 revealed that some aspects of the working conditions of young workers (under 25) differ considerably from those of older workers. More recently, data taken from the EWCS 2015 has shown that the skills gap between younger and older workers is gradually closing.
Eurofound’s COVID-19 survey used various questions from the EQLS and EWCS, adapting them where necessary for the purpose of the survey.Read less
Key outputs over the years
- Young people have suffered major economic and social consequences as a result of spiralling unemployment since 2008. The economic loss to the EU of having such large numbers of young people outside the labour market and education is estimated at above €153 billion a year.Read more
- Young people have suffered major economic and social consequences as a result of spiralling unemployment since 2008. The economic loss to the EU of having such large numbers of young people outside the labour market and education is estimated at above €153 billion a year.
- The 2008–2013 crisis highlighted how young people are more vulnerable to economic recession than other age groups. Youth unemployment soared above 40% in many EU countries, and the share of young people not in employment, education or training (NEETs) peaked at a historical high of 16% of the entire EU population aged 15–29.
- There is high concern among policymakers that young workers will be the next victims of the COVID-19 economic fallout. Eurofound’s e-survey Living, working and COVID-19, carried out in two rounds in April and July 2020, shows that young people in the EU are grappling with the crisis situation.
- Worrying levels of mental well-being are reported among young people in Europe, especially when it comes to feelings of loneliness and depression, where young people are suffering the impact of pandemic restrictions and reduced social interactions more than the older population.
- Young people are also faced with job loss, a decrease in working time and insecurity about their professional and financial futures. In the July 2020 round of Eurofound's COVID-19 e-survey, 11% of young respondents lost their jobs during the pandemic and 12% considered it likely to happen in the coming months, compared to 8% and 9%, respectively, of workers over 30.
- The impact of the pandemic on education is also damaging young people’s opportunities to accumulate human capital. The suspension of schooling is likely to hinder skills formation, while reinforcing inequalities between the most privileged and the most vulnerable.
- Despite the negative effects of the crisis on young people, they remain slightly more optimistic than other age groups: 53% in April and 57% in July 2020, compared with 44% and 48% for the over-30s, reported feeling optimistic about their future.
- Young people still trust the EU (6.1 out of 10 in July 2020) slightly more than they trust national governments (5.0). Nonetheless, the implementation of new lockdowns and restrictions on movement risks bearing serious economic and social costs for young people’s employability and well-being. While representing a response to the health crisis, their wider societal and economic effects also need to be assessed carefully and taken into account by policymakers.
Publications & dataTop
The sections below provide access to a range of publications, data and ongoing work on this topic.
- Publications (138)
- Ongoing work (1)
Eurofound publications come in a variety of formats, including reports, policy briefs, blogs, articles and presentations.
Webinar: #AskTheExpert - The impact of COVID-19 for people living and working in Europe: How can policymakers respond?Event 10 June 2020
EYE Online - Eurofound panel debate: Being young during the COVID-19 crisis - Impact on work, life and well-beingEvent 28 May 2020
A selection of related data on this topic are linked below.
- Data: COVID-19 EU PolicyWatch
- Data: Living, working and COVID-19 data
- Data: Quality of life and quality of society during COVID-19
- Data: Working during COVID-19
- Data: Financial situation and security during COVID-19
- Data: Quality of public services during COVID-19
- Data: European Quality of Life Survey 2016 - Data visualisation
- Data: European Working Conditions Survey - Data visualisation
Research continues in this topic on a variety of themes, which are outlined below with links to forthcoming titles.