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European Commission - Fact Sheet

Questions and Answers: Communication on the Youth Guarantee and Youth Employment Initiative

Strasbourg, 4 October 2016

Today, the European Commission adopted a Communication that highlights the main achievements of the Youth Guarantee and Youth Employment Initiative (YEI) since their launch in 2013

Have employment prospects for young people improved since 2013?

Young people’s labour market performance has improved significantly since 2013. Three years on from when the Youth Guarantee took off, there are almost 1.4 million fewer young unemployed in the EU and 900,000 less young people not in employment, education or training (NEETs).

Youth unemployment has dropped from a peak of 24.4 % in the first quarter of 2013 to 18.9 % in the second quarter of 2016. The NEET rate has fallen from a 13.2% in 2012 (percentage of 15-24 year olds that are NEET) to 12.0% in 2015 (although still remains above the 10.9% of 2008).

Even if such trends should be seen in the context of cyclical factors, the Youth Guarantee accelerates progress by increasing opportunities for young people.

Despite this significant decrease, the youth unemployment rate remains high in the EU andmasks big differences between countries. This Communication – and accompanying Staff Working Documents - therefore outlines further action to be taken to continue reducing youth unemployment. 

How many young people have benefited from the Youth Guarantee so far?

Since January 2014, 14 million young people have entered national Youth Guarantee schemes. Around nine million young people have taken up an offerof employment, education, traineeship or apprenticeship under the Youth Guarantee. Of all the offers made, the majority (over two-thirds) were offers of employment.

In terms of coverage, on average the coverage rate of YG schemes in 2015 was 41.9% compared to 40.4% in 2014 suggesting that national Youth Guarantee schemes are still in the process of being rolled out. Full-scale implementation is still recent in a number of Member States, as many measures have required substantial reforms and broad partnerships.

What has happened with beneficiaries after receiving an offer under the Youth Guarantee?

Examining what happened to young people after they took up a Youth Guarantee offer is important, since a “good-quality” offer can be measured by its outcome and its ability to support young people in their transition towards sustainable labour market integration.

Collected data shows that 35.5% of young people that left the Youth Guarantee[1] in 2015 had entered employment or returned to education 6 months later. This figure varies across countries, ranging from 71.4% in Ireland and 64.1% in Italy down to 37.7% in Spain and 30.4% in Hungary, with Denmark in the middle of the range at 49.9%. However, these figures are likely to be understated because of the high proportion of reported unknown outcomes (40% of young people were in an unknown situation).

How are national Youth Guarantee schemes monitored at EU level?

At EU level, the European Commission monitors the implementation of the Youth Guarantee within the European Semester, the EU's annual cycle of economic policy guidance and surveillance.

The 2016 Annual Growth Survey, kicking off the 2016 Semester cycle, highlighted youth unemployment as a policy priority and called on national, regional and local authorities to advance the work on youth unemployment in line with the Youth Guarantee through “systemic changes to school-to-work transitions, activation policies and well-functioning public employment services”.

The implementation of the Youth Guarantee in each country has been assessed annually in the Commission's Country Reports since 2014, on the basis of indicators agreed with Member States. A country-by-country assessment specific to youth is available here.

What kind of structural reforms has the Youth Guarantee supported in Member States?

In many Member States, the Youth Guarantee has led to significant structural reforms and policy innovation. National Youth Guarantee schemes have, in particular:

  • broken down silos and fostered new partnerships between ministries, across policy areas, and involving a multitude of stakeholders. Many governments established multi-stakeholder committees to support the planning, implementation and monitoring of the national Youth Guarantee scheme. A number of countries have strengthened the links between employment and education sectors, by strengthening cooperation between their public employment services, schools and guidance services;
  • supported apprenticeship reforms and the better regulation of traineeships. These reforms havehelped to better align young people's skills with labour market needs and strengthened business community engagement;
  • strengthened the public employment service's (PES) capacity to implement the Youth Guarantee. In line with their central role as main Youth Guarantee provider, PES have expanded their existing service offer to young people.
  • improved outreach to young people who are not registered with PES. Increasing awareness, accessibility and the range of services was instrumental in this regard, through the development not only of online registration and targeted campaigns but also of one-stop-shops, mobile or decentralised services and proactive work with a broader range of partners, including youth organisations.

How does the EU support Member States in implementing national Youth Guarantee schemes?

Substantial EU financial support to youth employment measures is provided by the European Social Fund (ESF) and the Youth Employment Initiative (YEI).

The YEI was initially created as a €6.4 billion dedicated resource to be spent during 2014-18. The Commission now proposed to further boost the YEI an additional €1 billion under the YEI specific allocation, matched by €1 billion from the European Social Fund, for 2017-2020. Next to that, thanks to increased cohesion policy allocations as from 2017, several YEI-eligible Member States will have the possibility to invest up to €2 billion more of ESF funding in youth employment measures.

In addition, in 2015, the Commission released an increased pre-financing for the YEI worth around €1 billion, a readily available liquidity to ensure faster mobilisation of youth employment and training measures on the ground.

Considerable ESF resources are also allocated to modernising labour market institutions and education systems reform, which also impact youth employment. For instance, the total allocation by Member State to education measures, including higher education, amounts to around €27 billion during the 2014-2020 programming period, with young people likely to be the main beneficiaries of this funding. Overall, by 2023 Member States have committed to supporting 4.1 million young people through the 2014-2020 ESF budget (including all employment, education and social inclusion measures).

In addition to financial support, the EU assists Member States through policy support and mutual learning mechanisms, to put in place the right institutional framework to implement the Youth Guarantee and to learn from each other’s experience. For example, the European Commission set up a network of national Youth Guarantee coordinators, organised a series of peer reviews on various aspects of the Youth Guarantee (as part of the European Employment Strategy's Mutual Learning Programme), and developed a toolkit to encourage young people to register with their local providers.

How has the Youth Employment Initiative (YEI) supported the delivery of the Youth Guarantee?

Across the 20 eligible Member States, the YEI is seen as a key lever to make national Youth Guarantee schemes a reality. In some cases, the YEI is being used to support most or all measures planned under the Youth Guarantee schemes, while in others it is one funding source amongst others. The YEI provides support directly to young people not in employment, education and training – through job placements, self-employment, apprenticeships, traineeships, among others. Countries where large shares of Youth Guarantee funding comes from the YEI include Lithuania - where 2/3 of all Youth Guarantee actions are supported by the YEI, Poland - where 3/4 of all Youth Guarantee actions YEI funded and Spain - where 80% of all Youth Guarantee actions are funded through the YEI.

How many young people have benefited from the Youth Employment Initiative (YEI) funding? How have they benefited from it?

To date, YEI actions have supported over 1.4 million young people. At the same time, the number of young people supported to date varies widely across Member States. Some larger Member States and key recipients of the YEI, such as France, Italy, Portugal and Greece, already have large numbers of participating young people. Most Member States claim that overall they have been able to engage young people and have not faced difficulties recruiting young people. In some Member States, measures even meet a higher than expected demand, for instance demand for voucher schemes in Greece.

Although reporting on successful outcomes is only possible upon completion of the intervention, many of the YEI first national evaluations (submitted by the Member States at the end of 2015) already show that young people who have completed a YEI intervention have significantly improved chances of finding employment or continuing their studies afterwards.

Are there any good examples of concrete results from the disbursement of YEI funds?

Results of YEI actions are positive and the 2015 additional YEI pre-financing has helped speeding up delivery of YEI actions. In France, results at the end of 2015 were above the targets set. 31% of participants who responded to the exit questionnaire had obtained a fixed-term contract of a more than 6-month duration or a permanent contract. In Italy, nearly 35% of the participants who have completed a measure are employed 4 weeks after completion. In Poland, 36% of those completing the YEI measure received an offer of employment, continued education, apprenticeship or traineeship upon leaving. First indications of long-term results from some YEI projects in Poland show that, 2-6 months after participation, 69% of participants worked or were in education or training, and 57% were employed. These are significant achievements as regards the overall employability of the young people targeted.

The vast majority of YEI managing authorities agree or strongly agree that the YEI will have an important influence on the design of youth employment policy in their country. National evaluations highlight that the YEI has led to a shift to demand-based delivery of active labour market policies for young people, with a much stronger focus on individualised assistance for young people themselves.

What are the main challenges that Member States have encountered in implementing the YEI?

Despite its frontloading to the first two years of the programming period, YEI implementation had a slow start. The new obligations stemming from the framework of the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESI Funds), that apply to the YEI, were an important contributing factor in the initial slow start (e.g. delays in completing the set-up of monitoring systems and programme management structures). However, the process has now been completed for most of the YEI-supported operational programmes.

Furthermore, Member States with particularly high numbers of young unemployed (e.g. Spain, Italy, Greece) and/or Member States where the capacity of PES has been assessed as insufficient (e.g. Romania) have faced additional capacity challenges not related to ESI Funds requirements.

Although some Member States had difficulties to absorb the additional YEI pre-financing provided in 2015, they are funding youth employment measures with national resources or money available from both the 2007-2013 programming cycle. The high number of young people already covered by YEI measures demonstrates that the roll-out of operations on the ground has not been hampered.

The deployment of measures under the YEI is now on track in most Member States.

What can be done to accelerate and broaden the Youth Guarantee's and YEI implementation?

The Communication – and accompanying Staff Working Document - outlines a number of actions to be taken in this regard:

  • Political commitment for the Youth Guarantee must remain high so that structural reforms and dedicated measures benefit all NEETs.
  • Outreach and tailored solutions must be stepped up for young people facing multiple barriers, for example by broadening the range of interventions proposed within Youth Guarantee offers.
  • Better mechanisms must be set up to ensure that young people receive offers of high quality.
  • Investment in partnerships and capacity building to improve the delivery of the Youth Guarantee must be strengthened, for example the cooperation between education providers and employers and the capacity of Public Employment Services.
  • Financial support, most notably through the Youth Employment Initiative, must continue. In the context of the mid-term review of the Multiannual Financial Framework the Commission proposed to continue financial support to youth employment, by increasing YEI resources .

For more information:



[1] A young person leaves the Youth Guarantee when he/she exits a Youth Guarantee scheme. Exit occurs either on take-up of an offer or on deregistration from the Youth Guarantee scheme before take-up of an offer.


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