The European Parliament called for stronger measures to fight unemployment among young people, including common minimum standards for apprenticeships and decent wages, in a resolution passed on Thursday. EU funding of employment-related programmes should also be increased in future budgets, it added.
Sustainable economic growth is impossible without reducing inequalities says the text, which was approved by 502 votes in favour, 112 against and 22 abstentions. It warns that youth unemployment has reached unprecedented levels, averaging 23% across the EU, with peaks of over 50% in some member states. Altogether, 5.3 million Europeans under 25 years old are unemployed.
The Commission should closely monitor the implementation of the “youth guarantee schemes” launched last year and propose minimum standards for the quality of apprenticeships, wage levels and access to employment services. EU funding for the Youth Employment Initiative, currently €6 billion, also needs to be increased, says the text.
Additional measures at national level could include measures to discourage young people from dropping out of school, promoting training and apprenticeships, and comprehensive strategies for those who are not in employment, education or training. EU member states should also use the European Social Fund or ERASMUS+ to fund projects that promote entrepreneurship and eradicate poverty and social exclusion, say MEPs.
Tailoring education to labour market needs
The resolution underlines the importance for young people of acquiring transversal skills, such as knowledge of information technologies, leadership skills, critical thinking and languages, inter alia by studying abroad. Member states considering the likely future structure of their economies should give priority to science, technology, engineering and mathematics in their educational programmes, since these profiles will probably be in greatest demand on the labour market.
Finally, MEPs call on member states to ensure that young people have access to quality jobs that offer stability and security and meet core labour standards. To encourage job creation, national governments should reduce administrative burdens for the self-employed, micro-enterprises and small and medium-sized enterprises, introduce favourable tax policies and establish a more favourable climate for private investment.