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European Commission

Press release

Brussels, 25 June 2013

EU Employment and Social Situation: Quarterly Review highlights advantages of traineeships; latest migration trends

Temporary contracts can be a good opportunity for a young person to get into the labour force in particular if they are linked to education or training (as is common in Germany and Austria), according to the European Commission's latest Employment and Social Situation Quarterly Review. However, when young temporary workers are on short-term contracts involuntarily (e.g. in Spain and Poland) there is a risk that they remain trapped in insecure working conditions. In the context of growing divergence in unemployment levels between Member States, the number of people wanting to move to another country has substantially increased but they still face barriers. The Review also notes the importance of quality childcare in mitigating inequalities at an early stage of life.

László Andor, European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, commented: "The euro crisis has brought a double-dip recession with devastating social effects, particularly for 'peripheral' countries and the young generation. But our latest analysis confirms the advantages of apprenticeships and traineeships in terms of helping young people to get a quality job. This underlines the urgency for all Member States to make the Youth Guarantee a reality before the end of 2013.”

In countries with no or only a small decline in young people's employment rate (e.g. Germany and Austria), most temporary contracts for young workers are linked with education or training, reflecting strong apprenticeship systems in these countries. Such apprenticeship/training contracts usually last longer and are often stepping stones to a permanent contract. However, in countries with a big drop in young people's employment rate (e.g. Spain and Poland), the majority of young temporary workers are on short-term contracts involuntarily, and the duration of those contracts is shorter. This reflects problems of labour market segmentation, where long-established workers enjoy very high levels of employment protection and newcomers are either unemployed or on short duration temporary contracts.

The Commission is urging all Member states to urgently put in place the Youth Guarantee, proposed by the Commission as part of the Youth Employment Package in December 2012 (see IP/12/1311 and MEMO/12/938) and adopted by the Council in April 2013. Under the Youth Guarantee, young people under 25 that cannot find a quality job should be offered an apprenticeship, a traineeship or further education within four months of leaving school or losing a job.

The Commission will launch the European Alliance for Apprenticeships in Leipzig on 2 July to bring together stakeholders from government authorities, business and social partners, vocational education and training researchers and practitioners and youth representatives. It will pool existing actions under a common umbrella and promote the benefits of successful apprenticeship schemes and ways to build them up.

In the 2013 Country Specific Recommendations (CSRs) proposed by the Commission on 29th May (see IP/13/463) 16 Member States were advised to focus on reforming vocational and educational training to include a stronger work-based learning component. The Commission also proposed that seven Member States (France, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, The Netherlands, Spain and Slovenia) should implement further measures to tackle segmented labour markets.

More southern Europeans want to find a job abroad

Intra-EU mobility has somewhat recovered in recent years following the drop at the beginning of the crisis. Workers from Eastern and Central EU Member States still make up the majority of those moving to another EU country but their skills often remain under-used: many of them are over-qualified for the jobs they do. The numbers of workers moving from southern to northern Member States are increasing more quickly but from a lower base. The proportion of people with 'firm intentions' to migrate in the following 12 months has more than doubled, from 0.5 % to 1.2 %, i.e. from 2 to 5 million, and is highest in Greece. The emigration rate among EU nationals has been increasing, notably in Ireland, Greece and Portugal, while remaining low in Spain or Italy. However, overall it seems that the labour market has been adjusting to crisis conditions not so much by people leaving their own country to seek work in another, but through a decrease in the inflows and increase in the outflows of migrant workers (leaving their host country to return home) especially in the case of Spain. That said, large outflows of nationals could be observed among the young generation in 2007-12, notably from Lithuania and Latvia, as well as Bulgaria, Poland, Estonia or Ireland. By contrast, outflows of young nationals from Italy, Spain and Greece have remained limited.

In order to facilitate workers' mobility between Member States, the Commission is reforming EURES, the pan-EU job-search network to help people who are ready to move to another country to identify where suitable job vacancies exist and to help employers to find suitably skilled workers (see IP/12/1262, MEMO/12/896, MEMO/12/897). The Commission has also proposed a Directive to make it easier for workers to exercise their rights to free movement (see IP/13/372).

Quality childcare leads to long-standing benefits for the child

Quality childcare leads to long-standing benefits for the child, according to the academic research analysed in the latest Quarterly Review. The positive impacts are strongest for the most disadvantaged children, so that quality childcare can help mitigate inequalities at an early stage. However, children from disadvantaged backgrounds have more limited access to childcare services. Across the EU, only 23% of children under three and living in poor households have access to formal childcare, as opposed to 41% of the children living in other households. Similarly, 20% of children whose mother has only lower-level education are enrolled in childcare as opposed to 40% of children with highly educated mothers.

The Recommendation on investing in children, adopted in February 2013 as part of the Social Investment Package (see IP/13/125 and MEMO/13/117) calls on Member States to intensify efforts to ensure that all families have effective access to quality early childhood education and care. This call is also reflected in the proposed 2013 Country Specific Recommendations addressed to 13 countries. Formal childcare services can only help parents enter and stay in employment if they are affordable and of good quality.

Further information

Employment and Social Situation Quarterly Review

2013 Country-Specific Recommendations

Youth Employment

Social Investment Package

Employment and Social Analysis web page

László Andor's website

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Contacts :

Jonathan Todd (+32 2 299 41 07)

Cécile Dubois (+32 2 295 18 83)

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