More than 4.2 million young people are unemployed in Europe today, with Spain among the worst affected countries. The EU launched the Youth Guarantee as an attempt to turn this situation around, but how does it work? EURACTIV Spain reports.
Young people have borne the brunt of Europe’s economic downturn. According to Eurobarometer, “more than half of young people in Europe (57%) have the impression that, in their country, the young have been marginalised and excluded from economic and social life by the crisis”.
Nowhere is this marginalisation more clearly illustrated than in the youth unemployment figures for the EU’s southern member states. Greece (44.2%), Spain (42.9%) and Italy (40.1%) have the highest proportions of unemployment among people under the age of 25. This is far above the EU average (18.6%) and the best performers like Germany (6.5%) and the Netherlands (10.2%).
In his State of the Union speech last September, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said, “I cannot and will not accept that Europe is and remains the continent of youth unemployment.” He promised to expand the Youth Guarantee scheme to reach out to the young people most in need.
What is the Youth Guarantee?
The Youth Guarantee is a commitment by EU member states to ensure all people under the age of 25 (30 in Spain) receive an offer of high quality employment, education, an apprenticeship or traineeship within four months of becoming unemployed or leaving formal education.
The scheme was launched in 2014 with €6.4 billion of EU funding. One year later, the scheme received a further €2bn to cover the period 2014-2020.
Young people in regions where youth unemployment is higher than 25% can benefit from this funding.
14 million young people have entered Youth Guarantee schemes since January 2014 and around 9 million of them have taken up an offer, the majority of which were offers of employment.
The Spanish case
Spain was one of the first EU countries to develop its Youth Guarantee scheme, as early as December 2013. The Commission allocated €2.36bn to Madrid for 2014-2020, to tackle the country’s drastic levels of youth unemployment. An additional €900m are awaiting approval by the European Parliament.
Spain has made significant changes to its education system since 2013, increasing the number of apprenticeships from 4,000 to 15,000. Over the same period, the number of businesses participating in the apprenticeship scheme has risen from 500 to 5,600.
But of the 20 countries benefitting from the scheme, Spain has shown one of the lowest returns on the EU’s investment.
According to official data, in January this year, some 421,000 young people were enrolled in the scheme, out of a total eligible population of more than 1 million.
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