The Reinforced Youth Guarantee: Will it prevent the 'lockdown generation'?
At the press conference to launch the new measures, Commissioner Schmit recognised that young people risk becoming the victims of yet another economic downturn. This new policy package is meant to show young people they’re not being forgotten, that the EU is not leaving them behind.
The Youth Guarantee is not a new measure, it was initially launched by the EU in 2013 in response to high levels of youth unemployment following the economic crisis. It commits to providing all young people with a good quality offer of employment, education or training within 4 months of becoming unemployed or leaving education.
For many years, together with our Members, we’ve been calling for the Youth Guarantee to be strengthened. This reinforcement of the Youth Guarantee comes at a worrying time for youth, as they risk becoming the ‘lockdown generation’. Since the onset of the COVID-19 crisis 1 in 6 young people have stopped work according to a survey by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in partnership with the European Youth Forum.
What’s new? A modernised and extended Youth Guarantee
The Commission has introduced a number of positive improvements to the Youth Guarantee in their proposal, which address some of the gaps in its implementation identified by youth organisations.
The Youth Guarantee will now apply to under 30s, instead of under 25s - this is important, as transitions have become longer, and more support will be needed in the context of this new crisis. Moreover, there will be a focus on providing opportunities for young people to gain digital and green skills to prepare them for the changing world of work.
There is also more emphasis on making the Youth Guarantee more inclusive, for example by providing improved support for young people who have not been in employment, education or training in the long-term. In addition, the Commission highlights the importance of mapping for better understanding of the target group and a strengthening of both early-intervention and post-placement support. A stronger outreach and ongoing support will be crucial for the Youth Guarantee to truly support vulnerable youth.
The Commission aims to make sure that investment in youth employment matches at the very least the €22bn invested in the current EU budget 2014-2020 (between the Youth Employment Initiative and the European Social Fund). We welcome this aim to match the policy ambitions with adequate funding, however we remain worried that this might not be feasible. The proposal for the new EU budget 2021-2027 only earmarks about €8bn for youth employment, with the Member States having a lot of flexibility for deciding their own funding priorities.
What’s missing? Young people need quality Youth Guarantee offers!
Youth organisations report that the low quality of Youth Guarantee offers is one of the most significant flaws of the Youth Guarantee. Therefore, we’ve been calling for dedicated quality standards at European level to be developed to make the Youth Guarantee a success.
Unfortunately, the Commission proposal falls short on this important aspect. While recognising the issue, the Commission only proposes linking the quality of Youth Guarantee offers to existing EU policies such as the Quality Framework for Traineeships. However, this will not be enough to tackle the very high rates of precarious work among young people - which is often low-paid and provides little employment or social protection.
Quality standards will prevent Youth Guarantee schemes from reinforcing patterns of precarious work and instead allow young people to pursue their personal ambitions, access quality education and training, and decent jobs which provide long-term security, fair pay and learning opportunities.
It will now be up to the Member States to adopt the Commission’s proposal for the Reinforced Youth Guarantee. We will continue advocating for young people to have quality opportunities through the Youth Guarantee!