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ISSUE 73 page 5

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EU Youth Guarantee: ‘Not one job found yet’
 THE EUROPEAN YOUTH GUARANTEE WAS LAUNCHED, with some fanfare, in 2013 to address the sky-high levels of youth unemployment (22.2% across the EU in 2014) by ensuring that young people up to the age of twenty-five receive a high-quality offer of employment, continued education, an apprenticeship or a traineeship within four months of leaving school or becoming unemployed. It was based on similar schemes in Sweden and Finland. An extra €6 billion was set aside for the period 2014-2020, which added to monies from the European Social Fund, made a total of €12.7 billion. Now the first evaluation of its progress has been made and the results are patchy, to say the least. The European Court of Auditors (ECA), an EU watchdog, has produced a report which details difficulties in assessing the amount of additional funding which Member States have provided; nine countries have not given a figure. According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) if the scheme was implemented properly the costs could rise to €21 billion per year, still less than the €153 billion that is lost annually in taxes, benefits and consumer spending from youth unemployment. However finance is only one area of difficulty that the ECA identifies. The European Commission has never defined the concept of a ‘high-quality job offer’ and the ECA wants there to be a set of qualities that jobs, traineeships and apprenticeships must possess before receiving EU support. Without these there is a risk that some

EUYouth

A hopeful tableau from the Socialists & Democrats party group

Officials admit that they have yet to see a single young person who has found a job through the Youth Guarantee. The ECA recommend that ‘The Member States provide a clear and complete overview of the cost of all the planned measures’, ‘the Commission promote a set of qualitative attributes that jobs, traineeships and apprenticeships should possess to qualify for EU support’ and ‘put in place a comprehensive monitoring system for the Youth Guarantee scheme, covering both structural reforms and measures targeting individuals’.
Meanwhile the original model for the guarantee in Finland has been pronounced a success. Starting in 1996 the scheme was relaunched in 2013 with  the government providing €60 million annually. As well as jobs the authorities aim to offer young people easier entry to post-compulsory education and vocational training and the public employment service has stepped up its efforts to reach youngsters with more funding for its youth service and the setting up of ‘one-stop shops’. This expansion has been scaled back by cuts in public spending with only about half the planned new staff actually being recruited. Despite these efforts the youth unemployment rate in Finland rose by 3.2% between 2014 and 2015, however very few are unemployed long-term (1.2%, the lowest rate in the EU) and the average duration of 14 weeks is comparatively short.

companies could take advantage of the scheme to use young people as a source of cheap labour. The third major problem lies with monitoring and implementation. The ECA say that, unusually, no impact assessment was undertaken to lay out the costs and benefits of the programme.

 

 




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