The European Youth Guarantee – From concept to reality
28 November 2013, Madrid, Spain
Programme and presentations are available for download Updated 4/12/2013
Setting the scene
Marcos Peña, President of the CES, opened the proceedings, stating that it is impossible to change reality if we don’t understand it and encouraged participants to debate and discuss the issues. Juan Menéndez-Valdés, Eurofound Director, highlighted the huge social and economic costs of the crisis and unemployment, drawing attention to the staggering number of young people not in employment, education or training (NEETs), and stressing the urgency to act at EU and national levels.
Setting the scene for discussion and debate, presentations followed by Eurofound representatives on ‘Living and working in Europe’ and ‘A Youth Guarantee: The Nordic concept’, highlighting the difficult unemployment situation in Europe, the situation of NEET young people, particularly in the four countries mentioned, as well as giving positive examples of youth guarantees from the Nordic countries. Max Uebe from the European Commission presented ‘A roadmap for Member States’ in implementing the Youth Guarantee
Under the Youth Employment Initiative, €6 billion will be made available to Member States in 2014–2015 to start implementing Youth Guarantee schemes, with additional funding to follow. This would be complementary to other projects undertaken at national level, including those with support from the European Social Fund (ESF). Mr Uebe emphasised that the Youth Guarantee should not be seen as a short-term measure but as a ‘living plan’ and encouraged Member States to spend the allocated money wisely on sustainable, tailor-made programmes and to ensure good quality offers of jobs. José María Goerlich Peset then chaired the Q&A session with lively participation from representatives of governments, trade unions, employers and youth organisations.
Challenges of implementation
This first panel discussion focused on how to manage the varying needs of the different groups of young people looking for work and how to match the right person to the right job. It also sought ways to move forward on youth employment when jobs are not available.
Speakers gave an overview of the difficult economic situation in their respective countries, mentioning in particular high youth unemployment, the high NEETs rate, the impact of low education and the efforts to reach out to those furthest from the labour market, such as better profiling of individual jobseekers. For example, one measure in Ireland called ‘Intreo’ aims to create a one-stop-shop for active and passive support measures.
The speakers also said that the role of the public employment services needs to be strengthened, and that matching skills to labour market needs is necessary and that of course economic growth is crucial also in creating employment. They recognised the need for earlier intervention and a more collaborative approach.
Opportunities and synergies
Panellists in the second session explored how to reach out to young people in implementing the Youth Guarantee, providing some real life examples of good traineeships and looking at how to ensure quality in traineeships.
Speakers again outlined the situation facing young people in each country, highlighting the impact of austerity measures and the huge challenge of implementing the Youth Guarantee. But they recognised the opportunities for synergies and the potential of the youth sector and youth organisations in helping to address the unemployment challenge and reach out to marginalised groups.
It is important to recognise the link between youth work and employability, the need to offer quality jobs, the need to raise the level of training for young people, and the importance of preventing high-school dropouts and encouraging social inclusion. In Portugal, for instance, there is a need to reinforce links between the private and public sector to create opportunities for young people.
The European Youth Forum highlighted the potential of non-formal education and the need to recognise pre-existing skills of young people who are outside the labour market. All countries were concerned over the funding method for implementing the Youth Guarantee, whereby governments have to match the funding available to them from the ESF.
Closing remarks were from Miguel Ángel García Martín, Director General for Self-Employment, Social Economy and Corporate Social Responsibility at the Spanish Ministry of Employment and Social Security. Among the structural weak points that national governments need to address, he said, are the high rate of early school-leavers, training people in trades, language skills of young people, entrepreneurship and polarisation of the labour market.
Youth Intergroup brings young MPs together
The discussion on youth employment strategies continues in Brussels on 5 December at the first European forum of young members of national and European parliaments, organised by the Youth Intergroup of the European Parliament. In addition to over 40 young MEPs and national MPs and representatives from various youth organisations, Massimiliano Mascherini from Eurofound will present research findings on ‘The transitions of young people from education to the labour market’.