The EESC stresses the usefulness of the Youth Opportunities initiative and is ready to get involved in implementing the initiative by cooperating with the social partners and civil society organisations and through joint action with stakeholders to promote it. The EU's austerity policy and the lack of a clear and generally recognised growth policy could jeopardise the success of the Youth Opportunities initiative, therefore it is vital to create an appropriate economic and financial environment. The EESC emphasises the importance of appropriate education, training and careers advice and believes that it is appropriate to support first work experience and on-the-job training. Quality apprenticeships, placements in enterprises and traineeships are an important means for young people to acquire skills and work experience. The first job should guarantee a set of minimum employment standards. The creation of new high-quality jobs must remain a priority.
The information report will seek to take a holistic approach to situation of young people in the north and south of the region, looking not just at the employment market but at wider trends amongst young people also outside of work, their self-perception, their political and social outlook on the future, their living arrangements, their view of their parents' generation and other older generations, as well as their view of the region and its role in a globalised world.
Traineeships have become an important gateway through which young people enter the labour market. However, although traineeships have become standard in European labour markets, their spread has been accompanied by growing concerns as to learning content and working conditions. To facilitate access to employment, traineeships should offer good quality learning content and adequate working conditions.
The EESC agrees with the Commission on the need to change the rules of the Parliament and of the Council on the European Social Fund and the Structural Funds, but regrets that the funds for the Initiative for Youth Employment do not result from a strengthening of the EU budget but are taken from the overall budget for cohesion. The Committee is also convinced that the foreseen amount, i.e. € 6 billion, is insufficient given the magnitude of the problem and the urgency to solve it. Finally, the Committee reiterates that the maximum age giving access to the Youth Guarantee should be increased to 30 years to cover for people who are still in a transition phase from education to employment.