What are unemployed Greek youngsters doing in 2016

Background current

Around 4.4 million of the under 25s in the European Union are unemployed. To change that, the European Union's Youth Guarantee was launched three years ago.

In May 2011 in Barcelona, ​​Spain, students protest against high youth unemployment and the austerity policy. (& copy picture-alliance / AP)

The Youth Guarantee is a European Union (EU) approach to tackling youth unemployment in its Member States. The aim of the Youth Guarantee is that all under 25-year-olds receive a concrete and high-quality job offer within four months of completing their training or after they have become unemployed. This can be a job or apprenticeship position, an internship or advanced training. The EU Council of Ministers adopted the recommendation for a Youth Guarantee on April 22, 2013, and by introducing it, the EU member states committed themselves to ensuring the successful transition of young people into working life.

Economic and financial crisis 2008/2009

The recession that followed the economic and financial crisis in 2008/2009 hit young people particularly hard. In 2008, the number of unemployed 15- to 24-year-olds in the EU was 15.6 percent (4.169 million), only one year later it had risen to 19.9 percent (5.174 million) and reached 23.2 and 23, respectively. 6 percent in 2012 and 2013 their previous high point. Little work experience, in some cases inadequate training and precarious employment relationships mean that young people in particular are dismissed or not even hired in the first place.

Youth unemployment is highest in those EU countries that have been and are hardest hit by the economic crisis - especially Greece and Spain. Despite the slight decline in the youth unemployment rate in both countries, around every second young person there was unemployed in 2014.


Two benchmarks: quota and share

The youth unemployment rate indicates the share of unemployed young people in relation to the total number of young people available on the labor market. The age group of 15 to 24 year olds is considered.

In contrast, the youth unemployment share focuses on the entire population in this age group: the share of unemployed youth is measured among all 15- to 24-year-olds, i.e. also among those who go to school or study and are therefore not available for the labor market. In 2014, the youth unemployment rate in the EU was 9.2 percent, slightly below the high of 9.9 percent in 2013. In 2008, 6.9 percent of all young people in the EU were unemployed.

The Youth Guarantee and its implementation

As part of the EU Youth Guarantee, each Member State has submitted a national implementation plan. The implementation of the Youth Guarantee requires structural reforms in various areas, including in the training, employment and education systems, in the public employment service and in vocational education and training.

In Belgium and Romania, for example, their own counseling centers have been set up for the Youth Guarantee, Poland has introduced an exemption from social security contributions for employees under the age of 30, and Spain has developed a dual training system - the number of trainees increased from 4,292 in 2013 to 9,555 in 2014.

According to estimates by the International Labor Organization, the establishment of youth guarantees in the euro area costs 21 billion euros per year. The European Social Fund (ESF) and the Youth Employment Initiative are the main sources of EU funding to help Member States implement the Youth Guarantee.

European Court of Auditors sees implementation risks

The European Court of Auditors (European Court of Auditor, ECA) published a first report on the Youth Guarantee in March 2015, describing the following implementation difficulties:

Due to a lack of information on the possible total costs of the EU-wide implementation of the Youth Guarantee, the ECA saw the risk that the previously planned EU funds might not be sufficient. There is also a lack of a uniform definition of "high quality" jobs in the EU, so that the Youth Guarantee cannot be implemented effectively or uniformly in all countries. The ECA named inadequate monitoring by the EU Commission and reporting by the federal states as a third risk. In his report he therefore recommended the introduction of a comprehensive control system and the formulation of a number of qualitative characteristics that a job, training or internship position must meet in order to be supported by the EU budget. In addition, Member States should provide a full overview of the costs of all planned actions so that the Commission can assess funding needs.

The current youth unemployment rate

In February 2016, according to the latest figures from the European statistical agency Eurostat, 4.381 million people under the age of 25 were unemployed in the EU. The youth unemployment rate was 19.4 percent and has fallen compared to 2012 and 2013. However, it is still a long way from before the crisis.

The youth unemployment rate was highest in late 2015 and early 2016 in Greece (48.9 percent), Spain (45.3 percent), Croatia (40.3 percent) and Italy (39.1 percent). In contrast, it was lowest in Germany (6.9 percent), the Czech Republic (10.2 percent), Denmark (10.5 percent) and Malta (10.8 percent).

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