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EU Commission announces first steps to tackle long-term unemployment, lacks focus on youth

18. 09. 2015

The European Commission announced on Thursday a three-step plan to tackle long-term unemployment through focused services for unemployed people, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility Marianne Thyssen said in a press conference.

Up to 10% of the European Social Fund is already reserved for supporting long-term unemployed between 2014-2020.

The Commission’s proposals, which include individual assessment for each registered unemployed, are a strong step in the right direction. However, given the magnitude of the problem of long-term youth unemployment in some countries, we regret that no proposals address specifically the needs of long-term unemployed young people.

The European Youth Forum notes that young people are particularly vulnerable to long-term unemployment. With the rate of 6.9% for 15 -29 year olds in 2014, and as high as 29.4% in Greece, many are affected in terms of employability and career development from the medium to long-term.

For example, a six-month spell of unemployment at the age of 22 results in an 8% lower wage at 23 and a 2-3% lower wage at ages 30 and 31. Unless drastic action is taken, the current youth unemployment crisis could hinder Europe for the next 20 years or longer. It is in Europe’s interest to take timely action against this situation.

Any action to tackle long-term youth unemployment needs not only to address the difficult transition from school to work but also to take a more holistic, cross-sectorial approach. Experience from the Youth Guarantee shows that such measures are only effective when there is strong cooperation between all stakeholders, including civil society.

The expertise of youth organisations can play a key role, particularly in reaching out to those furthest from the labour market.

The European Youth Forum now calls on Member States to agree and implement the Commission’s recommendations. Actions, programmes and investment to tackle long-term youth unemployment will be most effective if there is a common pan-European approach.

In addition, the Youth Forum calls for ambitious macroeconomic policies that foster quality job creation. Part of the social funding must be devoted to this to ensure that the long-term unemployed are effectively brought back into the labour market and to the society as a whole.