European Commissioner responsible for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion
Speech: Public employment services role in implementing the Youth Guarantee
Youth Guarantee Seminar /
Berlin, 13 March 2013
Minister, ladies and gentlemen,
I want to thank Minister von der Leyen for arranging this event and inviting us to Berlin.
I am grateful for her strong support for the public employment services network and for their project 'Towards an integrated European public employment services bench-learning initiative'.
Tomorrow your assistants will be meeting in Brussels to discuss the details with a view to the Dublin meeting of heads of public employment services in June.
On 28 February, the Council of Employment and Social Ministers reached political agreement on a Council Recommendation on establishing a Youth Guarantee.
The Heads of State and Government decided last month to dedicate €6 billion of EU financial support to the so-called Youth Employment Initiative, the financial arm that will give a boost to implementing the Youth Guarantee in some 16 Member States with critical levels of youth unemployment.
As you know, the Youth Guarantee calls on Member States to ensure that under-25 year-olds receive a quality offer of employment, continued education, an apprenticeship or a traineeship within four months of leaving school or becoming unemployed.
The public employment services are key actors in the implementation of the the Youth Guarantee.
The Council Recommendation states that the starting point for the Youth Guarantee is when a young person registers with an employment service.
And it says that the Member States should set a starting point within the same four-month time-frame for young people not in employment, education or training and who are not registered with an employment service.
The Recommendation also calls for Member States to develop strong partnership-based approaches:
first, between employers and such labour market players as the employment services to boost opportunities between young people, and
second, between employment services, education and training institutions, career guidance services and other specialised youth services to help smooth young people’s transition from inactivity or education to work.
Member States are also encouraged to enable employment services, together with other partners supporting young people, to provide personalised guidance and individual action planning, including tailor-made individual support schemes, based on the principle of mutual obligation at an early stage and continued follow-up with a view to preventing young people from dropping out and ensuring their progression towards education and training or employment.
These may be routine tasks for some public employment services, but new for others.
This lays a heavy burden on public employment services. But not all public employment services in Europe are equipped for these tasks or have the resources and expertise needed.
This is where the Commission, and especially you — as members of the heads of public employment services network — can make a difference.
You can help services that perform less well by sharing your knowledge and experience.
Of course, what works well in your country may not work well elsewhere.
But knowing what works in one country, or what the results of a particular practice are, can help others.
First, you could assist other public employment services to implement the Youth Guarantee either individually or as a network.
In the short-term, various support measures could be useful. These could involve:
preparing a handbook on how public employment services could support the implementation of the Youth Guarantee in line with the Recommendation.
workshops at EU level to explain your national approach to other services. Such workshops should be able to be held at very short notice. A series would probably be necessary, given the large number of topics. These range from prevention, activation approaches for those harder to place, working with employers, and targeted active labour-market policy measures, to monitoring and evaluation.
twinning of public employment services with study visits, staff training and possibly, temporary staff exchanges. Some public employment services could group together to share the burden. An example is the Public Employment Service Task Force Greece, in which Germany, Sweden and the UK are helping the Greek service reshape its business model.
Secondly, supporting mobility for youth employment under the Your First EURES Job pilot project. I know some of you are very active here. This could involve the systematic transfer of know-how on such recruitment projects and helping the sending countries to develop structures that improve cooperation.
exploring the inclusion of traineeships and apprenticeships to boost employment among young people, in line with the June 2012 European Council’s request concerning EURES. Mobility among young workers as apprentices and trainees could also be part of the Youth Guarantee employment offer.
Other measures could also help in the longer term, such as support for Member States setting up a company-based apprenticeship system and the relevant structures. Perhaps this could be discussed at a follow-up meeting. Your support could help to change attitudes to apprenticeship-type learning by promoting the benefits of apprenticeships and allowing young people and their parents to make an informed choice when taking up quality vocational training or an apprenticeship.
Thirdly, you could help by providing the Commission with support through innovative action in response to youth unemployment. This could involve two possibilities:
The first is for you to assist the Commission and the EU's Employment Committee in monitoring implementation of the Youth Guarantee from the public employment service perspective. The Commission currently issues an annual questionnaire to public employment services on their anti-crisis measures. One module of the questionnaire relates to implementation of the Youth Guarantee from the perspective of public employment services. If you agree, we will ask your experts for advice on interpreting the progress and what corrective measures could look like.
The second is for you and your experts to act as a sounding board for practical questions — for example, on what and when to fund, and on specific aspects of implementation — which the Commission needs to decide on regularly.
Ladies and gentlemen,
I have tried to outline briefly the areas where I see a role for the public employment services in providing support in implementing the Recommendation.
I am sure you also have ideas and suggestions, which we could discuss.
Any support that you can offer as individual public employment services or as a network is much needed and will be very welcome.
As you know, the Commission is preparing a proposal for legislation on setting up a formal structure for the network of public employment services.
This should allow us to use your experience to support the implementation of employment policy, step up cooperation and learning within the network and stimulate innovation on capacity to deliver.
I see this meeting as an illustration of what we can achieve by working with you.
May I suggest that you inform the other heads of public employment services when you meet next in Dublin about this initiative and the support that you offer.
Ideally this should be coordinated within the network.
Thank you for your support. I look forward to hearing your views.