Combating youth unemployment is one of the biggest challenges of our time. In view of the EESC's role and its close monitoring of the situation, the Greek presidency has requested that the Committee put forward recommendations based on current practice in the Member States.
"For today's young people to be in a position to shape tomorrow's Europe, they need the opportunity to live an independent life, which includes a job in line with their qualifications", says rapporteur Christa Schweng, member of the Employers' Group).
Unemployment rates among 15-24 year-olds have always been higher than in the 24-65 age group, but the financial and economic crisis has hit young people looking for their first job particularly hard. While Eurostat data show that the youth unemployment rate stood at twice the unemployment rate of the total population up to the end of 2008, the rate was 2.6 times as high by the end of 2012.
The reasons for this are fewer jobs as a result of weak – or negative – growth, reduced domestic demand, cuts and an accompanying freeze in public sector recruitment.
The EESC has identified several measures that can help address youth unemployment, and has provided examples as recommended by EESC members:
- Reform of the education system. Under 2013 recommendations, 16 Member States were encouraged to modernise their education systems, with 12 advised to gear their vocational education more strongly towards the needs of the labour market or to strengthen dual training.
- Recognition of informally acquired skills. The validation of learning acquired through non-formal and informal learning can play an important role in enhancing employability and mobility.
- Skills and (professional) training measures. The education system must provide the vocational and personal skills needed to start a career, include vocational training that is more closely geared to the needs of the labour market, and promote an entrepreneurial mindset.
- Promotion of mobility. Promoting cross-border mobility of young people for work experience purposes can also help to close the gap between purely theoretical training and a first job.
- Public employment services. Public employment services have an important role to play in the transition from school to work, supporting unemployed people in their search for a job, and remaining in close contact with the labour market.
- Labour market reform. The EESC recommends continuing efforts to reform the labour market in agreement with the social partners, in order to strike the right balance between flexibility and security.
- Incentives for businesses to recruit young people. Additional incentives could help businesses to decide to take on young, inexperienced workers.
- Measures to promote entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurial education and training to support growth and business creation are pillars of the Entrepreneurship 2020 Action Plan.
The Committee also suggests that only a strategy geared towards growth and aimed at strengthening competitiveness and restoring the confidence of investors and households, accompanied by sustainable investment and an economic recovery plan, can stimulate demand for labour.
Voting: for 124, against 1, abstentions 4