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i Image credit / Young Innovator
why is youth unemployment in the eU so high?
According to the latest figures published by Eurostat, seasonally-adjusted unemployment in the EU28* was 10.6 % in February 2014, while unemployment among young people, aged 15 to 24, was more than double – 22.9%.Althoughyouth unemployment rates are in general much higher than unemployment rates for all ages, the number of jobless young people is disturbingly large, as in February 2014, 5.392 million young persons under the age of 25 in the EU were without a job. High youth unemployment rates reflect the difficulties faced by young people in finding jobs and in order to fight the problem it is important to understandwhat causes some many young people to be jobless.
Some reasons for the large number of unemployed people under the age of 25 are country-specific, having in mind the differences in employment policies, educational systems and economic performance among EU Member States, however there are factors contributing to the high youth unemployment rates which are present throughout the whole EU. One obvious reason for the large number of unemployed young people is the recent crisis which caused economic slowdown and tightening of the labour market. Young workers are more prone to fluctuations in the labour market, because they usually have lower job protection- most of them are employed on a temporary basis. Moreover, during a recession businesses tend to first stop hiring new staff and then laying off current employees, which limits the new positions available for young people entering the labour market.
The lack of professional experience is a big obstacle that prevents young people from getting a job. Having less job-related experience than adult workers makes youngsters more vulnerable when there are lay-offs and decreases their chances to be employed for newly opened positions. As a result, young people are most likely to be the last to be employed and in the same time the first to be laid off. This makes the transition from school to the labour market almost impossible.
Moreover, there is a growing mismatch between the skills that young people have and the positions that are offered on the job market. The low quality of education and the continuous expansion of the skill pool required for a job, leaves young people underqualified and without any work offerings. On the other hand, it is often the case that young people with higher education find it hard to find positions that suit their qualifications and skills, accepting work for which they are overqualified. The skill mismatch affects the job satisfactions and wages of workers and in the same time distresses the productivity of firms, while the qualification mismatch prevents countries from realizing the full potential of their labourforce.
In order to cope with the problem of high youth unemployment the EU has already adopted initiatives like the Youth Guarantee and the Youth Employment Initiative which have for a goal to provide funding and encourage Member States to take action by making it easier for young people to find jobs and provide them with vocational training. Thus,making young peoplemore competitive in the labour market and improving their chances of finding a job. Moreover, programmes such as Erasmus +, "Your first EURES Job", theEuropean Alliance for Apprenticeships and the Quality Framework for Traineeships provide young adults with the opportunity to receive vocational training and to gain practical work experience at home or abroad. The EU policy makers should continue to search for solutions for the high youth unemployment. Young people are the future of Europe and they should be able to develop professionally and be an active part of Europe’s workforce.
* The EU28 includes Belgium (BE), Bulgaria (BG), the Czech Republic (CZ), Denmark (DK), Germany (DE), Estonia (EE), Ireland (IE), Greece (EL), Spain (ES), France (FR), Croatia (HR), Italy (IT), Cyprus (CY), Latvia (LV), Lithuania (LT), Luxembourg (LU), Hungary (HU), Malta (MT), the Netherlands (NL), Austria (AT), Poland (PL), Portugal (PT), Romania (RO), Slovenia (SI), Slovakia (SK), Finland (FI), Sweden (SE) and the United Kingdom (UK).
European Council (2013). ” EU leaders agree measures to fight youth unemployment,”28.06.2013 http://www.european-council.europa.eu/home-page/highlights/eu-leaders-agree-measures-to-fight-youth-unemployment?lang=en
UNRIC. “Youth: the hardest hit by the global financial crisis.” accessed April 5, 2014http://www.unric.org/en/youth-unemployment/27414-youth-the-hardest-hit-by-the-global-financial-crisis
ILO (2013).”Global Employment Trends for Youth 2013: A generation at risk.” International Labour Office – Geneva: ILO, 2013 http://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/---dgreports/---dcomm/documents/publication/wcms_212423.pdf
Eurostat. “Unemployment statistics.” accessed April 5, 2014 http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/statistics_explained/index.php/Unemployment_statistics#Youth_unemployment_trends
Dennis Görlich, IgnatStepanok, and Fares Al-Hussami (2013).”Youth Unemployment in Europe and the World: Causes, Consequences and Solutions.” January 2013, Kiel Policy Brief No.59, Kiel Institute for the World Economy https://www.ifw-kiel.de/wirtschaftspolitik/politikberatung/kiel-policy-brief/kpb-2013/KPB_59.pdf
Eurostat (2014). “February 2014: Euro area unemployment rate at 11.9% EU28 at 10.6%.” 01.04.2014, Eurostat Commission - STAT/14/52 http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_STAT-14-52_en.htm