With the EU countries implementing austerity measures concurrently, there is the danger that the mutually reinforced downturn will gather pace and the prospects for economic growth will deteriorate further, in turn negatively affecting domestic demand as the last source of economic stimulus and undermining stabilisation and job creation. In the coming years, Europe will navigate an exceedingly fraught employment situation. Certain groups are hit harder than average, in particular young people and the long-term unemployed. In order to counteract this, what is needed is speedy and targeted European and national investment with high employment impact, which should be implemented in a coordinated manner in order to amplify its employment policy effects.
The EESC proposes the following policy recommendations in order to implement the employment guidelines:
- The target for EU-wide general employment should in future be supplemented with measurable EU targets for specific groups. The common approach of leaving formulation of concrete targets in employment policy at Member State level has not proven successful.
- In this context, it is particularly worth considering an indicator aimed at substantially reducing the number of young people who are not in education, employment or training (NEETs).
- The EESC welcomes the Commission's proposal for a "Youth Guarantee".
- Countries with especially fraught labour market conditions as far as youth employment is concerned should be given easier access to EU funding.
- Provision of national and European funding for education and employment of young people and the long-term unemployed must be maintained or increased.
- Eligibility conditions for income support for the young and long-term unemployed looking for a job or education should be reviewed and, where necessary, improved.
- The EESC warns against impermanent solutions offering few long-term prospects when it comes to integration of young people in the job market.
- The EESC recommends that the Member States pay particular attention to ensuring that the long-term unemployed retain their working habits and improve their skills and knowledge.
As far as the Commission initiative on internships is concerned, the EESC supports a corresponding European quality framework in order to promote in-work training opportunities with secure contracts. The "dual system" of apprenticeships with general education and training, which has long been practised successfully in some Member States, should be studied with a view to its application elsewhere.