The new scheme, to be 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.
"Too many young Europeans are asking if they will ever find a job or have the same quality of life as their parents," European Commission President José Manuel Barroso said, welcoming the ministers’ decision.
"They need answers from us. That is why, for the past two years, the European Commission pushed the urgent need to tackle youth unemployment to the top of Europe's political agenda,” Barroso added, urging EU countries to implement the scheme as soon as possible.
A €6 billion pot in the EU budget for 2014-2020 has already been set aside to tackle youth employment in regions with high levels of unemployment.
But this is too little, according to the European Youth Forum, a civil society group. “The €6 billion allocated is not sufficient in order to bring in an EU-wide Youth Guarantee and is unlikely to even be sufficient to tackle youth unemployment in the regions identified as having a youth unemployment rate that is higher than the EU average,” said says Peter Matjašič, president of the European Youth Forum.
High price to pay for joblessness
According to a Eurofound report presented yesterday, the yearly cost of young NEETs (Not in Employment, Education or Training) has reached €153 billion in 2011.
European enterprises currently offer training positions for a total of about 9.4 million students. Apprenticeship-type students represent approximately 40.5% of total secondary education students in the 27 member states.
In countries with high proportions of young apprentices relative to the employed population - Austria, Germany and Switzerland - youth unemployment is much lower than other countries. In 2007 some 1.6 million young people were in apprenticeship in Germany, or 40 apprentices for every 1,000 employed people.
During its January plenary session, the European Parliament approved a resolution calling on EU employment ministers to agree that all member states introduce these schemes.
MEPs have also asked for the Youth Guarantee schemes to be eligible for EU funding, in particular from the European Social Fund, which they said should get at least 25% of EU structural and cohesion funds.