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Mr László Andor

EU Commissioner responsible for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion

"Youth on the Move" - speaking points

Press conference

Brussels, September 15th 2010

Youth on the Move will focus policies in a strategic way to try and help young people get their first job and then to progress in their career.

We are proposing priorities for policy design as well as implementation. And we can support Member States with joint work by exchanging experiences.

We also have financial support available which is critical in times of reduced public budgets. Europe's future prosperity depends on its young people.

The reference point, as Mrs Vassiliou has said, is the Europe 2020 strategy. Actions set out in "Youth on the Move" will help bring us closer to our 2020 headline targets to boost employment to 75% and reduce the number of people living in poverty and social exclusion by at least 20 million.

Today, we have a massive unemployment problem in the EU. Young people have been one of the main victims of the recession.

Over the last 2 years, the total number of young people without a job has increased by one million, so there are now 5 million Europeans under 25 who are in the labour market, but cannot find a job.

Unemployment rates among the young have increased dramatically in a number of Member States, especially in countries where the economy has been hit hard, such as Spain and the Baltics.

We need economic recovery to create job opportunities for young people, but we can also do a lot more to improve young people’s transitions from education to the labour market. And we can make better use of existing opportunities.

A lack of skills and qualifications, for example, is a major obstacle to entering the labour market in a knowledge and innovation driven economy

Another challenge is that young workers are very often hired on limited contracts. This is not a bad thing in itself: employers have the possibility to test skills before offering an open-ended contract. Young people have the opportunity to test one or several jobs/sectors.

But there must be opportunities in the labour market to move on and to find a more stable job.

Unfortunately this is not always the case. In some countries, young workers move between limited contracts and unemployment spells for years.

So there is a need to redress the balance and make sure that finding your way into the labour market and moving up in your job becomes easier especially if you are young.

It’s clear that the responsibility for employment policies lies mainly with the Member States. But all countries have common challenges and we need to pursue more determined action jointly in the coming years if we want to make real progress.

What can we contribute from the side of the Commission?

The employment angle of Youth on the move is based on three pillars:

  • Clear-cut policy priorities: to help young people get their first job, ensure they progress the labour market, provide extra help for youth at risk and adequate social support if necessary, as well as more opportunities for young people to make their own business plans a reality;

  • More support for Mobility in the wider EU labour market;

  • And financial support to implement policy priorities and to support young people directly.

To help young people get their first job, for example, we need to be more pro-active and avoid that they struggle with this step.

This is why I call on Member States to consider Youth Guarantees to ensure all young people are in a job, training or work experience within six months of leaving school. Some countries already have this system in place and the cooperation with the European Parliament on the introduction of Youth Guarantees has been especially welcome.

Next year, we will start a pilot action “Your first Eures job” to help young people seize opportunities further afield and to help companies find qualified workers. This will use the existing EURES network of 800 job advisors across Europe. €1m will be available to get the "Your first EURES job" project up and running and will start helping young people next year.

We want to encourage more mobility of young people on the wider European labour market. Often we have the situation where there are shortages in some countries or sectors and in other regions unemployment is very high. There is potential for improving such imbalances through more mobility and this is what EURES will try to do.

We will also have a new vacancy Monitor in place, which President Barroso mentioned last week. It will provide timely information about the top jobs in demand and the top growth occupations - especially useful for employment mobility.

The new “European Progress Microfinance facility” will improve access to loans for young entrepreneurs. An initial budget of €100 million is expected to leverage €500 million of credit in cooperation with international financial institutions such as the EIB Group. This could result in around 45,000 loans over a period of up to eight years.

To achieve tangible results for young people, we need to work with Member States and use the opportunities of the European Social Fund fully.

Because helping youngsters reach their best potential is what Youth on the Move is really about.

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