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Youth unemployment: Engage, Reform, Adapt

European Economic and Social Committee - CES/14/49   11/07/2014

Other available languages: FR DE ES IT PL


11 July 2014


Youth unemployment: Engage, Reform, Adapt

There are practical solutions for the 5 million unemployed young people in the EU, according to a study by the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) presented at its 500th plenary meeting. The EESC Labour Market Observatory (LMO) has examined and analysed the implementation of EU youth employment policies in six EU Member States: Greece, Croatia, Italy, Austria, Slovakia and Finland, in close cooperation with national workers', employers' and youth organisations. The situation differs greatly from one country to another, with youth unemployment ranging from 58.3% in Greece to 9.2% in Austria, but the study highlights common solutions that all EU Member States could successfully apply.

First of all, the involvement of social partners and civil society in youth employment policies and policy-making has proven effective in helping to keep unemployment rates low, notably in Austria and Finland. "Stakeholders can bring genuine added value to youth policies as they know and live the realities of the labour market. This civil society 'reality-check' is indispensable to shaping employment policies that work", notes Mrs Christa Schweng, President of the LMO.

The study examined the Youth Guarantee schemes in the selected Member States and concluded that, if well implemented, in partnership with social partners and youth organisations, the Youth Guarantee has significant potential to bring about structural reforms. For example, national education systems should be better aligned to the labour market needs in order to equip young people with the skills companies demand. "Stakeholders in Greece, Italy and Croatia are all supporting more and better on-the-job training and increased links between education and enterprises. This is clearly one way forward" says Mrs Schweng.

Finally, the study concludes that the varied situations faced by unemployed young people justify a tailor-made approach, carefully planned and adapted to national circumstances. It shows that bringing in stakeholders creates a broader sense of ownership and contributes to greater acceptance of reforms by the population.

Note to the editor

- The study was carried out in close cooperation with representatives of the social partners, youth organisations and public authorities. It was conducted by way of a questionnaire for social partners and youth organisations, interviews on the ground with all stakeholders, desk research and a public hearing held on 1 April 2014. All related documents can be found here.

- The six Members States were chosen on the basis of their specific situation in terms of youth policy, notably their youth unemployment and NEET (Not in Employment, Education or Training) rates as well as other specific challenges, such as long-term unemployment and Roma inclusion.

- Unemployment in numbers, EU 28 – 2013. Source: Eurostat


Member States

Unemployment rate

15-24 years

Unemployment rate 25-74 years

(not in employment, education or training) rate - 15-24 years

EU (28 Member States)

23.5 %

9.5 %

13 %


58.3 %

25.4 %

20.6 %


49.7 %

14.1 %

18.6 %


40.0 %

10.3 %

22.2 %


9.2 %

4.3 %

7.1 %


33.7 %

12.5 %

13.7 %


19.9 %

6.5 %

9.3 %

For more information, please contact:

Caroline ALIBERT-DEPREZ - EESC Press Unit


Tel.: +32 2 546 94 06 / Mob. +32 475 75 32 02


The European Economic and Social Committee represents the various economic and social components of organised civil society. It is an institutional consultative body established by the 1957 Treaty of Rome. Its consultative role enables its members, and hence the organisations they represent, to participate in the EU decision-making process. The Committee has 353 members from across Europe, who are appointed by the Council of the European Union.


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