Youth employment, Europe does not go too far

The EU is working on strategies for youth unemployment, until now it does not go so far. Education and work still do not meet, skills gaps are still vey high and Europeans citizens have a low percentage of graduates comparing with other countries.

REUTERS/Umit Bektas

Data, according to a European Parliament research, make the point clear:  20% of 90 millions of young people (aged 15-24) are unemployed. Two out of five young people in Spain and in Greece are unemployed. In Europe a young person out of four is at risk of social exclusion or poverty.

It raises concern, the level of education of EU citizens compared with that of other countries: in Europe only 31% of citizens aged 24-54 years old hold a degree comparing with 44% in Korea, 49% in USA, 53% in Canada.

Different levels of skill learning in the education systems in different EU countries: usually Dutch 25-34 year-olds who have completed only high-school education outperform Italian or Spanish university graduates of the same age.

Europe between youth unemployment and elderly population

Youth unemployment rates are much higher than the rest of population. In Europe, between 2007 and 2013, unemployment of young people aged 15-24 years old increased from 15.9 % to 23.7%, over twice than the general unemployment rate that was around 9.5% in 2013.

However, the economic recovery it seems gaining ground, according to the EU Parliament report, in 2015 it has been registered a slight reduction of the youth unemployment rate. While youth unemployment percentage, according to data in 2015, is still very high in economic hardest hit countries: Spain (53.2%), Greece (52.4%), Croatia (45.5%), Italy (42.7%), Cyprus (36%), and Portugal (34.7%). Usually during an economic crisis companies stop hiring, which affects especially young people: employers prefer to hire people who have already work experience for the few vacancies they can offer. In some countries like Czech Republic, young people are not able to find a job after their graduation; in Spain they remain jobless due to substantial lay-offs. Furthermore, according to some studies, being long-term unemployed for a young person it could generate mental health problems and worrying effects in future jobs perspectives. What is worrying is also the decline of young population among Europe since last 30 years, in 2050 it is estimated a percentage of young people of 16% (actually 18%). While over 65 elderly people will be around 28.7%  (in 2014 they were about 18.5%). That’s clear that European population is becoming elderly day by day. One reason to explain this phenomenon it might be the precarious life conditions of youth, unemployed or with low paid jobs.

All this might represent a huge problem for the EU economic growth, there will be a need of further resources to face the needs of an increased elderly population: the current welfare system suffer many problems, in particular with employment rates.

EU strategies for young people

The EU in 2009 launched “The Youth strategy 2010-2018”. Its objectives should be: to provide more and equal opportunities for young people in education and in the labour market, as well as to promote active citizenship and social inclusion for all young people.

The Europe 2020 strategy has reinforced the 2010 goals: reducing school-leaving from 15% to 10% and increasing the share of young graduates from 31% to at least 40% by 2020, reducing the risk of poverty for at least 20 million Europeans and increasing the share of the population in employment to reach 75%.

While the Strategic framework for education and training 2020 aims to see the share of employed graduates aged 20-34. An important EU initiative for youth employment is Eures it aims to facilitate the exchange between jobs offers and jobs seekers in Europe especially with the development of the project “Your first Eures job”. In 2012 it has been launched an employment youth package that considered the well-known Youth Guarantee. In Italy according to the last data actually there are 859.221 young people registered to the program of the Youth Guarantee, 74% of them have been taken in charge, 34% received a proposal of training/internship/job. There are several EU programs investing in the youth.  The most successful is the Erasmus. Erasmus ment it is still very high, Europe and single member states should take in consideration concrete actions.  students are 23% less likely to be unemployed than peers who did not have any study or job experience abroad. Employers (92% of them) look for candidates who hold transversal competences (open mind, problem solving capacity, tolerance and self-confidence). A period of study or work abroad allows fostering these skills. Furthermore, 40% of Erasmus students created a business abroad, start-up sometimes, and 92% of former Erasmus students share similar ambitions. However youth unemploy


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