Unemployment does a great damage to our society and economy. People under thirty years old are those, who are currently facing an extremely difficult situation on the labour market as the number of young people without jobs has assumed alarming proportions.
The average youth unemployment rate for Europeans under 25 is over 23%, which stands for 6 million people, and in some Member States it exceeds even 50%. It is worth mentioning that the worst situation is in Greece – at 64.2% of youth unemployment rate, in Spain at 56% and in Portugal at 42%. It is a paradox, as there are currently over two million unfilled job vacancies in the EU.
Youth unemployment is not only an economic problem. It has a negative impact on social life, self-esteem and even mental health. It also affects demographic situation in Europe, where young adults put off parenthood, because they don’t feel financially secure.
Actions, such as the Youth Guarantee, are also a significant measure to help young people to adapt to the current economic situation. Therefore the European Parliament extended the age of the beneficiaries of the Youth Guarantee scheme up to thirty. All the Member States should support the Youth Guarantee scheme and cooperate with enterprises and non-governmental organisations.
Education and training should play a central role for the EU. Unfortunately it is on the contrary – many Member States tend to reduce education budgets and it is commonly known that universities and training institutions require proper funding. We have to pay special attention to modernization of the education system in all Member States, which should properly prepare young people for the labour market and help them adopt to the current economic needs.
Students should be encouraged to enter into vocational training during education life cycle to ensure that they learn the skills necessary for a suitable job and avoid the unemployment after graduation. A lack of such experience is one of the main reasons for youth unemployment.
Countries with well-financed and attractive vocational education and training have the lowest unemployment rates (for example in Germany and Austria it is below 9%) and this is why I believe that we need stronger and more efficient vocational education and training system.
Member States should also provide internship organisers with adequate financial support. High-quality internships will give employers a great chance to hire well-trained workers, ready to handle challenges of a specific job. Yet, it must be underlined that the European apprenticeship strategy should be monitored carefully.
Moreover, we need more initiatives to encourage entrepreneurs to create new job vacancies. It is important to reduce the bureaucracy and develop a system of preferential tax and administrative conditions for enterprises hiring people under the age of thirty.
Another important issue is promotion of self-employment, which can help develop individual talents and will support starting new micro businesses. Implementing preferential conditions, benefits or tax exemptions for those people would encourage them to establish enterprises. These facilitates should help young people achieve independence on the labour market.
Job mobility is also very often perceived as one of the most important ways to tackle unemployment among young people. With around two million vacant posts in the EU it is crucial to link job seekers with positions offered. At present only 2% of Europeans are living outside their countries of origin and although migration within Europe is constantly on the increase, it is still not enough to fill millions of vacant posts. This is why we need to focus more on foreign language learning at schools, modernization of national security systems and finally – mutual recognition of qualifications and skills. It is crucial to improve the visibility and the accessibility to the European Job Mobility Portal (EURES) as well, in order to provide a better job redistribution within the EU.
Last but not least, the real measures have to be taken to stop the alarming process of marginalization of unemployed youths, particularly the group of NEETs – the ones not in education, employment or training. They cannot find a job, because their qualifications are not matching the requirements of the labour market. Unemployment is simply a waste of human talent, money and possibilities. In 2011, European NEETs cost member states 153 billion euro in social benefits and lost outputs. We have to take necessary actions to use the potential of the new generation and show it as a chance, not an obligation, for the European Union.
Young people should become an active element of the economy and all the Member States are supposed to give them possibilities to do it. We cannot let the current unemployment in The European Union turn into long-term unemployment, disadvantaging young people in particular.
In conclusion, all actions taken to tackle youth unemployment must be coordinated and monitored. All the funds must be properly targeted in order to bring improvement in the situation. With support of every stakeholders, we will be able to change the situation on the labour market and decrease the rate of unemployment among young people. It is crucial, however, to turn words into action and take the necessary measures to redefine youth as a full member of our European community.