Action to help young workers in the context of high youth unemployment is deemed to be a key policy priority for the EU. The Youth Guarantee is a European initiative that aims to ensure that everyone under 25 receives a good quality, concrete offer of a job, apprenticeship, traineeship or continued education within four months of leaving formal education or becoming unemployed. This initiative is valid for all young people, whether registered with employment services or not, and should be adapted to each individual need and situation.
The Youth Guarantee was set up by a Council recommendation in April 2013. All EU countries have presented comprehensive Youth Guarantee Implementation Plans, complying with the deadlines set by the European Council.
Besides helping Member States with their implementation plans, the Commission also facilitates the sharing of best practices between Member States, in particular through the European Employment Strategy Mutual Learning Programme. In terms of funding, the EU tops up national spending on these schemes through the European Social Fund and the €6 billion Youth Employment Initiative. Furthermore, the Commission recommends that Member State budgets prioritise youth employment for long-term economic benefit.
According to the last evaluation of the European Commission in 2015 (The Youth Guarantee – First successes), Youth Guarantee implementation has yielded some positive results in several countries. In France, a new law on lifelong learning and vocational education and training (VET) has increased support for apprenticeships for those with fewer qualifications. In Portugal, the curriculum of VET centres has been adapted, a VET centre network has been established and new courses have been created for students aged 14 (basic) and 15–17 (secondary). In Spain, the development of dual vocational training had encouraging results in 2014: the number of companies involved increased from 513 to 1,570 (a rise of 200%) and the number of students from 4,292 to 9,555 (a 100% rise). A Commission staff working document that accompanied the original Council proposal for the Youth Guarantee contains further examples of national measures.