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Study: Countries with faster school-to-work transitions have lower unemployment

Social Europe & Jobs

Study: Countries with faster school-to-work transitions have lower unemployment

Protest against youth unemployment. Milan, March 2012. [Shutterstock]

EU member states with quicker school-to-work transitions have lower youth unemployment, a new study by Eurofound shows.

The study Mapping youth transitions in Europe by the tripartite body of the EU states that countries with a higher integration of school and work, through apprenticeship programmes or through more young people effectively combining school and early labour market experiences, display a smoother and quicker transition from school to work.

According to Eurostat, the best school-to-work transitions are the ‘Nordic’ and the ‘Apprenticeship’ (found in Austria and Germany) models. At the other end of the scale, the ‘Eastern European’ and ‘Mediterranean’ models have difficult and problematic transitions. These models are associated with a later age of leaving home, and a slower and later transition to independence and autonomy.

In the summer of 2013, unemployment for those aged 15-24 rose to over 23% in the 28 EU member states. Despite a huge variation in unemployment figures, 18 countries recorded their highest levels of youth unemployment since the onset of the crisis.

With 15.9% of the overall population aged 15-29 being NEETs (not in employment, education or training), the loss to European economies is estimated at €162 billion, an increase of around €10 billion since 2011.

The study also reveals that during the crisis, the ability of young people to stay in employment has worsened, with negative consequences for their chances of gaining permanent employment.

Young people on temporary contracts, moreover, had a lower chance of remaining employed, with less than a quarter succeeding in getting a permanent contract. 


EU heads of states agreed in February 2013 to launch a €6-billion Youth Employment Initiative, with the aim of making it fully operational by 1 January 2014.

At a summit in June 2013, they agreed to disburse about €8 billion – more than the €6 billion originally earmarked in February – to fight youth joblessness, with the bulk available over a two-year period starting in 2014 and the remainder becoming available over the full seven years of the next EU budget.

A Youth Guarantee scheme, introduced by each EU country according to its individual need, will apply to young people who are out of work for more than four months. It aims to give them a real chance to further their education, or get a job, apprenticeship or traineeship. The EU has a 2020 target of 75% employment for the working-age population (20-64 years).