The European Union’s Youth Employment Initiative 2013 (YEI), launched to address the occupational challenges of young adults, is moving forward. The YEI is designed to allow the Member States to improve their policies by providing additional funding to fight youth unemployment, which has risen to unprecedented levels – the unemployment rates for young people in Europe are reaching 25%.1
In April of 2013, EU countries endorsed the principle of the Youth Guarantee. It was a strategy to address youth unemployment by guaranteeing that all young people under 25 receive a high-quality offer within four months following their formal education or becoming unemployed. Now, the Member States are making efforts to implement the Youth Employment Package 2012 and the Youth Guarantee 2014.
“11 out of the 20 eligible member states have officially submitted Operational Programmes covering the Youth Employment Initiative-related actions. 7 member states have not yet done so,” said László Andor, EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion.
As for the YEI, launched in February of 2013, it aims to tackle youth unemployment by supporting the implementation of the Youth Employment Package and the Youth Guarantee. The YEI is aimed at those countries with unemployment rates above 25% (as of 2012). In total, there are 20 countries that benefit from this initiative. The countries that are not eligible include Austria, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Luxembourg, Malta and the Netherlands.2
Thanks to YEI funding, Member States will be able to implement policies that support people up to 25 years of age (except Italy which extends this to people up to age 29) who are not employed, in school, or training (NEETs). There are many ways to carry out this initiative. For example, first job placements, apprenticeships, traineeships or start-up support for young entrepreneurs. The YEI has a budget up to €6 billion for the period 2014–2020. These funds come from two sources. On the one hand, half is from a new budget line dedicated to youth employment and has been front-loaded to 2014–2015. The other half will come from the Member States’ European Social Fund (ESF) allocations. The priority of the YEI is to provide funding to activities which are capable of achieving results quickly.
Youth unemployment is a major concern throughout Europe. According to Eurostat, as of the summer of 2014, youth unemployment in the EU28 stood at 21.6%, corresponding to 4.9 million young people under 25 years of age who remain jobless, with worrying trends in Spain (53.7%), Greece (51.5%), Italy (44.2%) and Croatia (43.9%).3
It is important to bear in mind that the goal of the Youth Employment Initiative is to allow employers to increase their workforce at a lower cost, without relinquishing the productivity growth. To implement such initiatives, it is necessary to increase the cooperation between all parties involved. Unfortunately, the implementation is going much more slowly than expected. So far, there are only two countries with operational programmes available: France and Italy.
EU and Member States are very concerned about this issue and are looking for ways to speed up this process. In fact, on 11 July 2014, experts from the European Commission and Member States held a seminar in Brussels with the aim to work jointly on the programming of measures financed by the Youth Employment Initiative, so that all eligible Member States can begin receiving the funds as soon as possible, and thus accelerate the process.
Employers must be aware that each country has its own Youth Guarantee Implementation Plan (YGIP) and should specifically note the YGIP of the country in which they operate. Additionally, employers cannot neglect the legal aspects associated with this project.
The efforts by the EU and the Member States to lessen, if not completely eradicate, the high youth unemployment rates are worthwhile initiatives. It is also a good opportunity for employers to acquire a young, skilled and talented workforce at a lower cost. Perhaps by working together the Member States, the EU, employers and employees can build a stronger workforce by integrating a new generation of workers in order to ensure economic stability and prosperity throughout Europe.
1 “Parliament aims to reinvigorate European Youth Initiative” by EurActiv Media Network, 2014
2 “Employment: Commission urges Member States to urgently implement Youth Guarantee to help young jobless” by the European Commission, 2013
3 “Euro area unemployment rate at 11.5%” by Eurostat, 30 September 2014