In this opinion, the EESC welcomes the fact that the reinforced Youth Guarantee presents Member States with a set of measures aiming to fight youth unemployment, entailing different tools that include apprenticeships, traineeships, education and job offers and calls for further steps to turn this into a permanent instrument. However, it regrets that the measures are not balanced and are mainly focused on education and skills and less on the active labour market polices. In the time of the post COVID-19 crisis, the EU's youth, who are most affected by unemployment, should have access to quality work opportunities.
The Committee urges Member States to take a holistic and integrated approach to supporting young people facing multiple barriers to educational, social and labour market inclusion.
The EESC considers that a good quality job or training opportunity must be provided to young people within maximum 4 months of registering with the public employment service. Support for young people needs to start with validation of non-formal or informal learning.
The Committee calls for an EU initiative to enhance the provision of quality and inclusive guidance and counselling, starting in early school education, to provide more information to young people on their further education and subsequently on career possibilities.
The EESC notes that job placements for young people not in employment, education or training need to comply with labour legislation, collective agreements and tax regulations to avoid long-term precariousness for the young workers supported by the Youth Guarantee. Decent salary and working conditions, accessible workplaces, health and safety at work, democracy at work, as defined in national legislation, and collective and/or sectoral agreements need to be respected for job placements for young people as workers.
The Committee suggests that a quality framework governing the youth guarantee should be developed in association with the relevant social partners and civil society players at EU, national and local levels in the design, implementation and evaluation of the scheme, to ensure that what is on offer meets a certain standard.
The EESC calls for European and national level cooperation on effective social, employment and education and training policies based on alliances to be built among ministries, public employment services, social partners, youth organisations, National Youth Councils and other relevant stakeholders in order to find the best solution for young people and ensure better outreach to those in need, focusing in particular on the inclusion of the socio-economically disadvantaged and ensuring gender equality.
The Committee recommends that the Commission conduct an EU-level study on the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on early school leaving and increased rates of young people not in employment, education or training. It also recommends revising Eurostat data on the youth unemployment rate to also cover young people from the age of leaving national compulsory education up to the age of 30 (so not only between the age of 18 and 25) and ensure appropriate support measures and adequate levels of and access to EU funding under the Youth Guarantee scheme.
The EESC calls for effective support for public employment services for getting people into further education and training and quality jobs. The increase in the age for access to the Youth Guarantee should not decrease the quality of opportunities provided by public employment services or put further pressure on public employment services or on the education and training systems facing increased demand. The EESC requests further support for the capacity of public employment services and for people to receive more information about available apprenticeships, traineeships and quality job offers in companies.