Social partners and the Youth Guarantee: Skills, learning and employability – Q4 2014 (EurWORK topical update)

4 maart 2015
Cabrita, Jorge


This article presents some of the key developments and research findings on aspects of skills, learning and employability in the fourth quarter of 2014. This update focuses on the role of the social partners in delivering the Youth Guarantee and the progress of cooperation between the social Read more

This article presents some of the key developments and research findings on aspects of skills, learning and employability in the fourth quarter of 2014. This update focuses on the role of the social partners in delivering the Youth Guarantee and the progress of cooperation between the social partners.

Social partners' role in the Youth Guarantee

The Youth Guarantee is an EU initiative aimed at tackling youth unemployment, a growing problem in the EU. The Youth Guarantee seeks to ensure that all young people under 25 years get a concrete offer of a job, apprenticeship or traineeship, or continued education within four months of leaving formal education or becoming unemployed. With the Youth Guarantee schemes closely linked to education and skills development, it is acknowledged that vocational education and training systems might have to be reformed in order to meet the goals of the initiative. The general guidelines state that national Youth Guarantee schemes should involve effective cooperation between key stakeholders such as public authorities, employment services, career guidance providers, education and training institutions, employers and trade unions. This article highlights some interesting examples of initiatives developed under the auspices of national Youth Guarantee plans in which social partners have played a major role.

Memoranda of agreement: Lithuania and Italy

The social partners in Italy and Lithuania have committed themselves formally through memoranda of understanding to cooperate in the implementation of each country's national Youth Guarantee plans. In Lithuania, the pact was signed by all parties, while in Italy, the memorandum refers to agreements between the state and employer organisations at national level: it does not include the trade unions.

On 14 January 2014, representatives of state institutions, employers, employees and youth organisations in Lithuania signed a memorandum that committed the parties to cooperate on the implementation of the Youth Guarantee initiative. The commitment aims to ensure that young people are trained for the labour market in a way that takes account of the needs of the national economy, so that they acquire appropriate competences and qualifications through quality education and vocational training.  The memorandum also says that young people should be offered a quality job or continuing education or training within four months of leaving education or becoming unemployed. The social partners also commit themselves to helping graduates join the labour market by providing better opportunities for apprenticeships or traineeships.

The Italian Plan on the Youth Guarantee for 2014–2020 sets out the principles that will govern measures to help young people aged 15–29 years enter the labour market (1.32 MB PDF). It was finalised by the Ministries of Labour and Social Policies, Education and Economic Development, the National Institute of Social Security (INPS) and the regional authorities. The plan was presented to the European Commission in December 2013, approved in January 2014 and made public on 14 February 2014. It outlines the structural reform of the Italian labour market, calling for the active participation of national and local institutions, as well as the involvement of potential partners such as youth associations, non-profit organisations and other social partners.

Since the plan was made public, there have been several initiatives, mainly from employers, that reinforce the scheme's main objectives. For example, the Ministry of Labour, the Ministry of Education, University and Research, the General Confederation of Italian Industry (Confindustria) and Italy's aerospace, defence and transport conglomerate Finmeccanica signed a memorandum of understanding on 28 March 2014 to promote youth employment through the active involvement of the business community. The memorandum says the signatories will support orientation activities and school-to-work transitions. To this end, they will promote internships and apprenticeships to offer young people a first encounter with the labour market and will also create ways to validate the skills gained by young people during an internship or apprenticeship.

On 22 April 2014, the Italian Confederation of Farmers (CIA) and the Association of Young Agricultural Entrepreneurs (AGIA) signed, in the presence of the Minister of Labour and Social Affairs, a memorandum of understanding intended to create more than 20,000 new jobs in agriculture. The agreement is also part of the Italian Youth Guarantee Plan and will allow entrepreneurs to start internships and apprenticeships for young people and promote self-employment.

On 15 July 2014, the National Association of Employment Agencies (Assolavoro), the Italian Association of Employment Agencies (Rete Lavoro) and the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs signed a memorandum of understanding within the framework of the Italian Youth Guarantee Plan. The agreement aims to promote apprenticeships, internships, employment placement, support services, and information and communication initiatives to encourage the participation of young people and temporary work agencies in the Youth Guarantee Plan.

Union support for Luxembourg's Youth Guarantee scheme

Luxembourg's Youth Guarantee scheme was launched in June 2014. It was based on a partnership between the National Employment Administration (ADEM), the National Youth Service (SNJ) and the National Youth Action Service of the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training. The initiative combines education policies preventing early departure from school, measures to encourage young people to be proactive in the labour market, and employment measures such as training schemes. The results of the first implementation phase of the Youth Guarantee scheme were presented to the Council of Ministers on 14 November 2014. In total, 420 young job-seekers have signed a binding agreement with the National Employment Office (ONEm); of these, 65% could benefit from a quality offer, either in the form of a job offer or an apprenticeship.

In general terms the social partners have encouraged the guarantee scheme. When it began, the Independent Trade Union Confederation (OGB-L) highlighted in a statement the importance of social partner involvement for the successful implementation of the Youth Guarantee. During its annual congress in December 2014, OGB-L put forward a number of proposals such as a strategy to validate and certify competencies, and the support of a national training programme to fund schemes at the company level.

New alliance for German vocational training

During the past decade in Germany, employers, ministries, other government institutions and the Federal Employment Agency (BA) had cooperated on the Pact on Apprenticeship (Ausbildungspakt). However, the German Confederation of Trade Unions (DGB) were opposed to this pact and did not participate. On 12 December 2014, the DGB announced the creation of a new alliance for vocational and further training (in German, 8.62 MB PDF).

The new alliance covering the period 2015–2018 unites all relevant actors under one umbrella; the partners agreed to:

  • strengthen vocational training;
  • reduce the number of school leavers without a certificate of educational attainment;
  • develop a new statistical system to assess the vocational training market.

Using the new system, more apprenticeship and training positions are to be provided and more companies are supposed to train young people. Employers have promised to provide 500,000 internship positions a year for pupils and 20,000 apprenticeship positions (in 2015) in addition to the positions already registered with BA in 2014.


A study of the implementation of EU youth employment policies in six Member States by the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) commented that '[a]lthough all parties … agree that the involvement of the social partners and youth organisations in the design, implementation and monitoring of the Youth Guarantee is vital, reality shows a quite different picture.'

The study examined the varying levels of consultation among the social partners. This article has provided some actual examples of how social partners are formally involved in the implementation of Youth Guarantee schemes. However, it is important to identify, characterise and share good practice examples of how to involve social partners in such initiatives so as to optimise the efficacy and outcomes of Youth Guarantee schemes across the EU.

About this article

This article is based mainly on contributions from Eurofound’s Network of European correspondents. Further resources in the area of youth employment issues can be obtained from Eurofound’s European Working Conditions Survey (EWCS) and European Company Survey (ECS), or the following recent reports:

Eurofound 2014: Mapping youth transitions in Europe

Eurofound 2013: Young people and ‘NEETs'

Eurofound 2013: Working conditions of young entrants to the labour market

Eurofound 2012: Youth Guarantee: Experiences from Finland and Sweden

For further information, contact Jorge Cabrita:

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