Youth unemployment figures in Europe are extremely worrying and they are getting worse; 5,5 million young people are unemployed, which is the equivalent of 22,4% in the EU, twice as high as the “adult unemployment rate”, which is at 9.9%.
That’s why the PES launched its campaign ‘Your Future is My Future’ calling for a European Youth Guarantee. A European Youth Guarantee, based on the Austrian and Finish social democratic models, is a ‘new social contract’ for young people, ensuring that every young person in Europe must be offered a job, further education or work- focused training at the latest four months after leaving education or after becoming unemployed.
It will take us 10 billion euros, but if young people remain unemployed it will cost the EU 150 billion euros every year. Some countries, such as Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia and Poland, are paying 2% or more of their GDP to cover the costs of unemployment. Avoiding these economic costs now and in the future outweighs by far the fiscal costs of the Youth Guarantee. With 10 billion euros we can lift at least 2 million young people out of unemployment.
Although European figures of youth unemployment for women and men are pretty much the same, in some EU countries already harshly hit by the crisis, women are more affected by youth unemployment than men (that’s the case in Greece for instance).
We cannot forget about women in these demands because society needs young women and men, their talents and skills on the labour market in order to strengthen Europe. Equal access to the labour market has to be ensured from the young age, in order to avoid the creation of bigger gaps in the future. For this reason, this initiative is particularly important for women.
But the EU also needs to address specific causes of youth unemployment among women; namely gender segregation in education and on the labour market and the need for developing new skills for women.
Following the proposal and the campaign of the Party of Europan Socialists and the PES Women, in May 2012 the European Commission included the Youth Guarantee into their Youth Employment Package in which they made proposals aimed at improving the situation of the youth. In February 2013, the Council reached a political agreement on the establishment of youth guarantee schemes.
Meanwhile the European Commission confirmed in the 2013 Annual Growth Survey that Youth Guarantee schemes are key measures that should be prioritised within growth-friendly fiscal consolidation.
Under the Youth Guarantee Member States should put in place measures to ensure that young people receive a good quality offer of employment, continued education, an apprenticeship or a traineeship within four months of leaving school or becoming unemployed. Member States can make full use of the European Social Fund and other structural funds, and will be required to assess and continuously improve their Youth Guarantee schemes. Furthermore, on 7-8 February 2013 the European Council decided to create a Youth Employment Initiative setting aside €6 billion for the period 2014-2020 to be allocated to regions where youth unemployment exceeds 25%. These funds will be available to implement the Youth Guarantee.
The Party of European Socialists will continue its campaign for urging Member States to implement a strong and efficient Youth Guarantee scheme. Together we can bring 2 million young people out of unemployment by 2014, by making a European Youth Guarantee a reality.