The EPSCO council takes measures against youth unemployment

These are contra dictionary times: the labour market is tense, companies are struggling to find promising talents while at the same time unemployment rates are increasing. Nowadays, one in five young Europeans between 20-30 years are without a job. In countries like Spain and Greece even half of the young population is unemployed. Based on 2011 figures the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living Conditions (Eurofound) estimated the economic loss due to the unemployment of young people to be EUR 153 billion, and suggests countermeasures in employment, education or training. In this light, a recent decision to guarantee employment or further training for the young must be considered ground-breaking. The EPSCO, Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council, has adopted the ‘Youth Guarantee’ in February 2013 as a chance to help young people avoid long-term unemployment. The council is composed of employment, social protection, consumer protection, health and equal opportunities ministers and meets about four times a year. The latest initiative will concretely assure that each young person in Europe up to the age of 25 will be offered a quality job, additional training, apprenticeship or an internship within four months after leaving school or the begin of unemployment period along with some financial support.
How the ‘Youth Guarantee’ will be implemented in the member states of the EU remains at the discretion of the countries. But as Nordic countries already implemented Youth Guarantees during the 1980s and 1990s, those will serve not only as good example and share their lessons learned, they also raise the bars in the European labour market as they prove to be successful. Recent studies show that in Sweden young people at the age of 24 who benefited from the guarantee could find a job faster.
The European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), an organization that exists to speak with a single voice on behalf of the common interests of workers at European level, welcomes the decision of the EPSCO. Patrick Itschert, ETUC Deputy General Secretary declared that EUR 6 billion will be allocated to measures for the benefit of young people. Nevertheless, job creation and quality jobs remain being issues and for the realization investments and a social contracts are needed.
Also the International Labour Organization (ILO), the UN specialized agency that promotes social justice and internationally recognized human and labour rights, considers the Youth Guarantee to be a good approach and therefore has announced to co-operate with the European Commission in supporting EU member states in implementing youth guarantees.