Youth employment: the EU measures to make it work 


More young people became unemployed in the wake of the economic crisis. Find out the EU measures to help them and the improvements proposed by Parliament.

Young people were amongst the hardest hit by the economic and financial crisis. The unemployment rate of people aged 15-24 years in the EU increased from 15% in 2008 to 24% in early 2013, with peaks in Greece (60%), Spain (56.2%), Croatia (49.8%), Italy (44.1%) and Portugal (40.7%).


Initiatives to help the young


To tackle youth unemployment, EU countries agreed in 2013 to launch the Youth Guarantee, an EU initiative to give everyone under 25 a good-quality offer of employment, continued education, an apprenticeship or a traineeship within a period of four months of becoming unemployed or leaving formal education”


The Youth Employment Initiative is the main EU tool to help finance measures and programmes, put in place by EU countries to carry out Youth Guarantee schemes, such as training and assistance for the young to find their first job, along with incentives for employers. The initiative targets regions in the EU that have a youth unemployment rate above 25%. This applies to more than 120 regions in 20 EU countries, including Ireland and the UK.


Both the Youth Guarantee and the Youth Employment Initiative focus on young people not in employment, education or training, which includes the long-term unemployed and those not registered as job-seekers.


The European Alliance for Apprenticeships platform was also launched to support the Youth Guarantee and improve the quality of apprenticeships in Europe.




According to the European Commission, 16 million young people have entered Youth Guarantee schemes since January 2014, while the Youth Employment Unitiative has provided direct support to more than 1.6 million young people.


Meanwhile the unemployment rate for young people has improved: by November 2107 it had dropped to 16.2%. However, challenges remain and there are significant diferences between EU countries.


Parliament proposals


On 18 January 2018, MEPs adopted an own-initiative report to assess the implementation of the Youth Employment Initiative. MEPs highlighted the importance of the Youth Guarantee and the Youth Employment Initiative to tackle youth unemployment and drive for policy reforms, but also called for better monitoring and reliable data to assess the results properly. They also proposed additional measures such as improving the quality of employment, education and training offers; better promoting the programmes among companies and strategic partnerships; and having a special focus on inactive and vulnerable young people.


Report author Romana Tomc, a Slovenian member of the EPP group, said in our video interview: “It is now crucial that member states also play their role with efficient measures at the national level.”