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Brussels, 9 April 2014
Youth Guarantee: Making it Happen conference calls on Member States to do more for delivery
(See also IP/14/383)
The European Commission, under the patronage of President Barroso, hosted a conference in Brussels yesterday on the implementation of the Youth Guarantee. A key message emerging throughout the event was that concerted effort is taking place in Europe to implement the Youth Guarantee in order to ensure that quality employment for young people is part of this economic recovery.
Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion László Andor stated: "The time for implementation is now. Only if this happens will we begin to see youth unemployment levels dropping at a faster rate than overall unemployment rates. Outreach to young people far from the labour market is urgently needed. And since a new surge of young people will graduate shortly, the real test has begun".
President Barroso, who opened the conference with a welcome address, also emphasised that the quality of offers issued as part of the Youth Guarantee is essential if a real difference is to be made to the generation of young Europeans who have been hardest hit by the economic crisis. The call for quality was a recurrent theme during the event.
The Director General of the International Labour Organisation, Guy Ryder, picked this up in his keynote address, seeing the call for good-quality offers rather than a quick fix solution for young people as one of the Youth Guarantee’s most important characteristics. Mr. Ryder also addressed the move from the political level to the practical in his closing remarks. Although he sees that getting to this stage has been no mean feat for Europe, for Mr. Ryder, now is the time for delivery. “The Youth Guarantee is not too big to fail - it is too important to fail”, he declared.
In Commissioner Andor’s opening words, he noted that while previous conferences on the Youth Guarantee have taken place at a high level, this event was for the people working directly on implementation. This shift reflects the additional priorities: while political momentum was essential in the early stages, the emphasis must now also be on immediate action.
The conference was attended by over 370 key practitioners, experts and political figures involved in the implementation of the Council Recommendation on establishing a Youth Guarantee, adopted in April 2013. This called on Member States to ensure that all young people under the age of 25 receive a good-quality offer of employment, continued education, an apprenticeship or a traineeship within four months of leaving formal education or becoming unemployed. One year on from adoption of the Recommendation, the event served as an opportunity to take stock of progress made, to identify the main challenges for ongoing implementation, and to look at how the European funds are being used in support of the initiative. Commissioner Andor used his closing remarks to remind Member States the Commission is available to provide ongoing support to implementation.
The importance of the Youth Guarantee on a global level was evident from the interest shown by colleagues working on the G20. The Commission was pleased to welcome participants from Australia, New Zealand, Japan and the USA, among other non-EU nations.
A choice of sessions was available during the day. Various topics were covered: the first session considered implementation in countries with very high rates of youth unemployment, and what outcomes can realistically be expected. Another examined how youth organisations can be involved in the implementation of Youth Guarantees, and how important this is. A third allowed the discussion of companies’ contribution to the European Alliance for Apprenticeships, and the value this brings to the functioning of a dual training system. Finally, a look at the use of EU funding in support of the Youth Guarantee highlighted the importance of this financial support, alongside national funding. Croatia and Poland have already announced that they will take advantage of the possibility to claim reimbursement from the Youth Employment Initiative for actions that started as of 1st September 2013, and the Commission welcomes this news.