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European Commissioner responsible for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion
Youth Employment Package
Press conference / Brussels
5 December 2012
7.5 million young Europeans between 15 and 24 are not employed, not in education and not in training.
More than one in five young Europeans on the labour market cannot find a job; in Greece and Spain it is one in two.
And in the last four years, the overall employment rates for young people fell three times as much as for adults.
The situation is clearly unacceptable: we must take action.
This is why the European Commission has adopted a Youth Employment Package outlining measures to be taken by the Member States and social partners.
The Package we adopted today comprises four initiatives to be taken forward by the Member States and the social partners:
Firstly, we urge Member States to implement the Youth Guarantee by establishing a scheme to ensure that all young people up to the age of 25 receive either a quality job offer, continued education, an apprenticeship or a traineeship within four months of leaving formal education or becoming unemployed.
The proposed Recommendation gives Member States a clear benchmark and precise guidelines for establishing their own Youth Guarantee scheme.
Let me insist on three of those guidelines which are cordnerstones of any Youth Guarantee:
First, the Youth Guarantee requires Member States to establish strong partnerships with the world of education, training providers, public employment services, youth associations, to ensure early intervention and action.
Second, Member States should implement a comprehensive set of measures to support labour integration.
Third, Member States must make full use of the European Social Fund and other EU structural funds.
Indeed, a Youth Guarantee has of course a fiscal cost for Member State Governments. However, the costs of NOT acting are far higher.
Make no mistake, youth unemployment is expensive: it costs Member States 153 billion euros a year in terms of benefits paid out and lost tax revenue and earnings, according to Eurofound.
This is in addition to the long-term costs of unemployment to the economy, to society and to the individuals concerned, such as increased risk of future unemployment and poverty.
The cost of doing nothing is therefore very high. Let's be clear Youth Guarantee schemes are investments.
On the one hand, the Commission is ready and willing to make available substantial financial contributions from the European Social Fund and other EU structural funds. The precise amounts will depend on the outcome of the negotiations on the Multiannual Financial Framework.
On the other hand, the Commission confirmed in the Annual Growth Survey adopted last week that Youth Guarantee schemes are key measures that should be prioritised within growth-friendly fiscal consolidation. For the Commission, investment in Youth Guarantee schemes is crucial expenditure if we want to preserve our future growth potential.
The second initiative proposed today is on traineeships.
Traineeships need to be of good quality in terms of learning content and with adequate working conditions.
In order to achieve this, the Commission has launched a consultation of social partners and we hope that the social partners will enter into negotiations. If not, the Commission will reflect on making a related proposal in summer 2013.
The third initiative is on company-based apprenticeship schemes which enable young people to gain work experience and acquire theoretical knowledge at the same time.
This is why we wish to improve the quality and the supply of apprenticeships in the EU by a ‘European Alliance for Apprenticeships’ in 2013.
The fourth measure is on mobility.
As I announced at the end of November, the EURES job-search network will be improved. It will not only include targeted mobility schemes for young people but also cover work-related apprenticeships and traineeships. The Commission also intends to develop the 'Your first EURES Job' programme further.
This gives young people more possibilities to work and train in another EU Member State which will increase their employment opportunities.
To conclude, given the massive youth employment crisis, we have to invest in Europe's young people now.
We cannot afford to leave young people on the scrapheap – instead we have to give them the skills and experience they need to help them to get a job.