Motion for a resolution - B9-0310/2020Motion for a resolution

MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION on the Youth Guarantee

1.10.2020 - (2020/2764(RSP))

further to Questions for Oral Answer B9‑0018/2020 and B9‑0019/2020
pursuant to Rule 136(5) of the Rules of Procedure

Lucia Ďuriš Nicholsonová
on behalf of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs

Procedure : 2020/2764(RSP)
Document stages in plenary
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European Parliament resolution on the Youth Guarantee


The European Parliament,

 having regard to Article 3 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU) and to Articles 145, 147 and 149 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU),

 having regard to the European Pillar of Social Rights (EPSR), proclaimed by Parliament, the Council and the Commission in November 2017, and in particular principle 4 thereof, ‘Active support to employment’,

 having regard to the European Council conclusions of 17-21 July 2020,

 having regard to Regulation (EU) No 1304/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 December 2013 on the European Social Fund and repealing Council Regulation (EC) No 1081/2006[1],

 having regard to Regulation (EU) 2015/779 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 May 2015 amending Regulation (EU) No 1304/2013, as regards an additional initial prefinancing amount paid to operational programmes supported by the Youth Employment Initiative[2],

 having regard to Council Decision (EU) 2019/1181 of 8 July 2019 on guidelines for the employment policies of the Member States[3],

 having regard to Council Recommendation of 22 April 2013 on establishing a Youth Guarantee[4],

 having regard to European Court of Auditors (ECA) Special Reports No 3/2015 entitled ‘EU Youth Guarantee: first steps taken but implementation risks ahead’, No 17/2015 entitled ‘Commission’s support of youth action teams: redirection of ESF funding achieved, but insufficient focus on results’ and No 5/2017 entitled ‘Youth unemployment – have EU policies made a difference? An assessment of the Youth Guarantee and the Youth Employment Initiative’,

 having regard to International Labour Office (ILO) working paper No 4/2015 entitled ‘The Youth Guarantee programme in Europe: Features, implementation and challenges’ and to the 2015 Eurofound report entitled ‘Social inclusion of young people’,

 having regard to the Commission communication of 1 July 2020 entitled ‘Youth employment support: a bridge to jobs for the next generation’ (COM(2020)0276),

 having regard to the Commission proposal for a Council recommendation on ‘A bridge to jobs – Reinforcing the Youth Guarantee and replacing the Council Recommendation of 22 April 2013 on establishing a Youth Guarantee’ (COM(2020)0277) and to the accompanying Commission staff working document (SWD(2020)0124),

 having regard to the Commission communication of 22 May 2018 entitled ‘Engaging, connecting and empowering young people: a new EU Youth Strategy’(COM(2018)0269) and to the Council resolution of 15 November 2018 on the European Union Youth Strategy 2019-2027[5],

 having regard to the Commission communication of 4 October 2016 entitled ‘The Youth Guarantee and Youth Employment Initiative three years on’ (COM(2016)0646) and to the accompanying Commission staff working document (SWD(2016)0323),

 having regard to its resolution of 23 July 2020 on the conclusions of the extraordinary European Council meeting of 17-21 July 2020[6],

 having regard to its resolution of 18 January 2018 on the implementation of the Youth Employment Initiative in the Member States[7],

 having regard to its resolution of 24 October 2017 on control of spending and monitoring of EU Youth Guarantee schemes’ cost-effectiveness[8],

 having regard to its resolution of 16 January 2013 on a Youth Guarantee[9],

 having regard to the questions to the Council and the Commission on reinforcing the Youth Guarantee (O-000058/2020 – B9-0018/2020 and O-000059/2020 – B9‑0019/2020),

 having regard to Rules 136(5) and 132(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

 having regard to the motion for a resolution of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs,

A. whereas, since its establishment in 2013, the Youth Guarantee has created opportunities and has helped over 24 million young people to find employment or to participate in a continuing education, apprenticeship or traineeship programme; whereas, before the COVID-19 crisis, the youth unemployment rate (15-24) stood at 14.9 % on average compared with a peak of 24.4 % in 2013; whereas this rate is still more than twice as high as the overall unemployment rate (6.5 %); whereas the prevalence of non-standard work is very high among young people, with 43.8 % of young people in temporary work across the EU; whereas the average youth unemployment rate hides huge disparities between Member States, with the unemployment rate for the under-25s standing at 40.8 % in Spain (June 2020) and 33.6 % in Greece (April 2020); whereas too many young people are in precarious work, and too many have to leave their region or country to find a decent job;

B. whereas the Youth Guarantee is recognised to have provided an impetus for structural reforms in public employment services and education systems in the Member States; whereas, however, it experienced a rather slow and patchy implementation by the Member States in its early stages, and several flaws were highlighted by stakeholders and young people in its design and its functioning in practice; whereas in its Special Report No 5/2017, the European Court of Auditors criticised the limited progress of the Youth Guarantee, concluding that the contribution of the Youth Employment Initiative (YEI) to the achievement of the objectives of the Youth Guarantee in the five Member States visited was very limited at the time of the audit, and that more than three years after the adoption of the Council recommendation, the situation fell short of the initial expectations raised at the launch of the Youth Guarantee, which aimed to provide a good quality offer to all NEETs – young people not in employment, education or training – within four months; whereas the Commission and the Member States have progressively introduced adjustments and improved guidance for the programme, making the Youth Guarantee and the YEI essential tools for combating youth unemployment in the EU;

C. whereas combating youth unemployment is a political priority shared by Parliament, the Commission and the Member States, and one that contributes to achieving the Union’s objective of sustainable growth and high-quality jobs, while also being in line with the EPSR;

D. whereas in sharing her political priorities, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen declared that she would turn the Youth Guarantee into a permanent instrument to fight youth unemployment and that it should have an increased budget and regular reporting to ensure that it delivers what it promises in every Member State;

E. whereas the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered an unprecedented economic and social crisis as a result of which unemployment rates in the EU are rising and millions of people risk losing their jobs; whereas as of June 2020 the youth unemployment rate stood at 16.8 % across the EU, a number that is still expected to continue rising sharply, considering that young people risk being hit the hardest, as was the case during the 2008 crisis; whereas high youth unemployment rates are detrimental to the individuals concerned, often leading to so-called ‘scarring effects’; whereas these detrimental effects will be experienced in particular among the increasing number of long-term unemployed young people and by society at large, and therefore require decisive and targeted policy efforts; whereas investing in the human capital of young Europeans will contribute to strengthening European economies and societies and to making them more inclusive and resilient; whereas a skilled, creative and innovative workforce is a prerequisite for a competitive Europe;

F. whereas young people are disproportionately affected by an economic crisis[10]; whereas countering the economic crisis created by the COVID-19 pandemic will be essential to avoid high youth unemployment rates; whereas one in six young people who were employed before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic have lost their job or have been made redundant; whereas working hours among young people in employment have fallen by nearly a quarter and two in five young people reported a reduction in their income, with those in lower-income countries most affected in terms of both working hours and income;

G. whereas the lockdown measures have caused a sudden disruption to young people’s formal and informal education, traineeships, internships and apprenticeships, as well as jobs, affecting their income, earning potential and well-being, including their health, and in particular their mental health; whereas youth unemployment measures should address the multi-dimensional nature of the problem;

H. whereas young people with disabilities have been hit particularly hard by the effects of the pandemic and are now at an even higher risk of socio-economic exclusion; whereas it is necessary to put in place targeted measures to support their integration into the labour market and to ensure their access to quality services while ensuring that they face no discrimination or barriers of any kind, including financial ones;

I. whereas young people are more likely to be laid off due to the fact that they more often work in the informal economy, in non-standard forms of employment, with no or little social protection and do not have professional experience;

J. whereas rates of non-standard work, such as platform or ‘gig’ work, are very high among young people, and non-standard work provides less job security and limited or no access to social protection, making young people more likely to be made unemployed during a crisis such as COVID-19 while restricting their access to social protection;

K. whereas it is essential to underline the difference between unemployment and inactivity levels to better grasp the incidence of the crisis among young people, since an increase in the inactive population may also result in a statistical reduction in unemployment; whereas several Member States have recorded a higher increase in the inactive population than in unemployment, both due to the fact that during the crisis people have stopped looking for work and due to the introduction of public labour market measures such as short-time work schemes and the blocking of layoffs;

L. whereas low-income and precarious contracts, bogus self-employment, lack of basic social protection and age-discriminatory practices are the employment conditions experienced by millions of young people; whereas the rate of inactive young people has increased in most Member States and whereas among NEETs the gender gap has also increased during this period; whereas many young people are shifting between employment and unemployment or inactivity or are trapped in precarious non-standard forms of employment; whereas young people are at a higher risk than others of losing their jobs to automation;

M. whereas women, and young women in particular, suffer double discrimination, for being young and for being women, due to a worrying imbalance on the labour market;

N. whereas the pandemic could widen inequalities in society, including the digital divide, which remains a serious problem in the EU as a whole and in Member States; whereas the lack of proper access to broadband and adequate IT equipment for young people in general, and also in the context of remote schooling and telework, could lead to further inequalities, exclusion and discrimination;

O. whereas the previous crisis showed that if young people are not provided with quality traineeships and jobs – based on written agreements and decent working conditions, including a living wage, career counselling and guidance and further training – there will yet again be a high risk that they will be forced to accept precarious jobs, leave their country to find work, or enrol in education or training, even though they are looking for a real job;

P. whereas the low quality of Youth Guarantee offers is one of its most significant flaws; whereas traineeships provided under the Youth Guarantee must not only be paid but also be limited in length and number so that young people are not trapped in never-ending repeated traineeships and exploited as cheap or even free labour, and without social protection and pension rights; whereas studies show that the current generation of young people find their first real job in their early thirties;

Q. whereas the current generation of young people are highly skilled; whereas skilling, reskilling and upskilling are not an answer to the lack of jobs for young people; whereas the creation of quality and sustainable jobs, on the other hand, is key to their stability;

R. whereas employment programmes can have an effect on unemployment but cannot be a substitute for wider efforts to encourage more flexible labour markets; whereas labour market obstacles have particularly harmful effects on young people, driving up unemployment rates and leaving new generations vulnerable; whereas research[11] has demonstrated the need for both active labour market policies and social protection schemes based on the at-risk-of-poverty threshold to avoid a situation where measures simply reshuffle employment opportunities as a zero-sum game between subgroups of vulnerable people;

S. whereas the 2019 guidelines for the employment policies of the Member States call on Member States to continue addressing youth unemployment and the issue of NEETs by preventing young people from leaving school early and by making structural improvements to the school-to-work transition, including through the full implementation of the Youth Guarantee;

T. whereas the proposal for a Council recommendation on reinforcing the Youth Guarantee builds on the experience and lessons learned from the implementation of the Youth Guarantee since 2013 and aims to reach out to an increased number of young people, the age bracket being widened to include all people under 30, supporting them in developing skills and gaining work experience within a modernised vocational education and training system;

U. whereas for the next programming period, 2021-2027, the Youth Guarantee will be financed through the European Social Fund Plus (ESF+), now encompassing the Youth Employment Initiative, which is the main funding programme of the Youth Guarantee; whereas Next Generation EU, through the Recovery and Resilience Facility and REACT-EU, will provide additional support for youth employment measures; whereas investments in education and training, which are aligned with the twin digital and green transitions, will be financed by the European Regional Development Fund; whereas Member States, upon request and following the fulfilment of predefined criteria, can obtain resources from the Technical Support Instrument to finance the preparation and implementation stages of structural reforms, among other measures, in the areas of education and training and labour market policies;

1. Welcomes the proposal for Council recommendation on reinforcing the Youth Guarantee and the Commission’s intention to introduce structural improvements based on the lessons learned from the 2008 financial crisis and the implementation of this instrument; recalls that a Council recommendation has no binding effect on Member States; points out that not all Member States have followed the Council recommendation, which has the effect of leaving young people behind; considers that it is time to make the Youth Guarantee binding instead of voluntary; calls on the Commission once more to propose a Youth Guarantee instrument that is binding for all Member States;

2. Stresses that a multi-dimensional approach to fight youth unemployment, comprising active and passive labour market policies and effective access to social inclusion measures and to social, health and housing services for young people, is needed to ensure the quality and sustainability of these actions;

3. Stresses that a reinforced Youth Guarantee should overcome the shortcomings of the previous approach, which was based on employability, and must be conceived as a path aimed at ensuring, within a reasonable time, quality and permanent jobs for all young people involved; reiterates that the Youth Guarantee should not institutionalise precarious work among young people, in particular through atypical status leading to extremely low wages, lack of social protection, lack of employment security, false self-employment and real salaried employment being replaced by precarious jobs;

4. Welcomes the fact that the reinforced Youth Guarantee will cover a wider age bracket to include young people aged 15-29 and that a more individualised and targeted approach will be applied to both temporary NEETs and longer-term NEETs; also welcomes the efforts to make the Youth Guarantee more inclusive and to avoid any form of discrimination, including disadvantaged and vulnerable groups, racial and ethnic minorities, migrants and refugees, young people with disabilities and those living in remote, rural or disadvantaged urban areas or in overseas territories and island regions; expresses its concern about the imbalance in the labour market, in which women in general, and young women in particular, suffer double discrimination, for being young and for being women; underlines the need for the Commission to take into account the needs of young women when addressing the gender gap;

5. Welcomes the inclusion of a gender dimension in the Youth Guarantee; notes, however, that the gender gap among NEETs has increased over recent years and that having a family remains an obstacle to the employment of young women; calls on the Member States to implement binding measures to avoid hiring discrimination on account of the candidate’s gender or family situation;

6. Stresses that NEETs comprise various subgroups, such as young people with disabilities, homeless young people, young Roma, and young migrants and refugees, who have diverse needs that should be met with specifically tailored services, such as, in the case of persons with a disability, guaranteed reasonable accommodation and work income that is compatible with continued disability payments; in this context, highlights the importance of having accurate data and appropriate ways to identify these subgroups, and of adopting a differentiated approach vis-à-vis longer-term NEETs, who often come from a disadvantaged socio-economic background and face intersectional discrimination in education and employment, among other areas of life, and for whom effective outreach programmes should be launched; stresses that to reach these target groups, the Youth Guarantee should be embedded in a coherent set of social and welfare policies, such as access to social security, including unemployment benefits and minimum income, childcare, health services, adequate, affordable and accessible housing and psychological support, to ensure that all young people have access to the scheme; insists that any discrimination experienced by young people on any ground must be actively combated in Youth Guarantee schemes;

7. Welcomes the recommendation to Member States to strengthen early warning systems with the aim of identifying young people at risk of becoming NEETs; is convinced that preventive actions, such as skills assessments and career and vocational guidance, which focus on helping early school leavers into employment or education before they become unemployed, if appropriately conducted, and the provision of inclusive and non-discriminatory mainstream education could lead to a reduction in the number of NEETs in the longer term;

8. Supports the idea of assessing the skill set of all NEETs who register for the Youth Guarantee, in particular their digital skills, and the proposal to enhance digital, language and soft social skills with preparatory training and to facilitate upskilling and reskilling towards green skills, entrepreneurial skills and financial and career management skills through individualised career guidance and orientation; in this context, highlights the importance of informal and non-formal skills; also calls for the ownership of digital equipment and the state of connectivity of all NEETs to be assessed at the same time as when their digital skills are assessed; considers furthermore that young people who register for the Youth Guarantee schemes should be supported in developing social and transversal skills, allowing them to better manage transitions and to face a fast-changing labour market; believes that tailored training of this kind should aim at addressing skills mismatches in the labour market; believes that apprenticeships can play an important role in this regard as they prepare young people for jobs that are in high demand, and can thus contribute to their sustainable integration into the labour market;

9. Urges Member States to ensure that young people who register for the Youth Guarantee schemes are proposed good-quality, varied and tailored job, training, apprenticeship or internship offers, including fair remuneration, and that employment offers are aligned with the relevant principles of the EPSR, ensuring the right to fair and equal treatment as regards working conditions, including ensuring a work environment adapted to the needs of persons with disabilities, access to social protection and training, and probation periods of a reasonable duration, as well as prohibiting abuse of atypical contracts; insists that under no circumstances should offers under the reinforced Youth Guarantee contribute to social dumping, wage dumping, in-work poverty or precariousness for young people; reiterates that internships could play a part in vocational training; recalls that internship contracts should take the form of written, legally binding agreements, specifying the tasks of the intern and including decent remuneration; considers that the objective of the Youth Guarantee must lead to employment and that internships should never lead to job replacement;

10. Calls for a quality guarantee ensuring that people who finished their training and/or education during the COVID-19 crisis can (re-)do courses included in their traineeship and/or apprenticeship, even after having obtained their degree and/or finished their traineeship and/or apprenticeship, which might have had to be cancelled or shortened or might have fallen short in some other way while measures against COVID-19 were in place, in order to fill any gaps in their training;

11. Insists on the need to outline in the Council recommendation clear and binding quality criteria and standards for offers, and calls on the Commission to develop a quality framework governing the Youth Guarantee; is convinced that such a framework would strengthen the programme and would make it a more effective tool for a successful transition to the labour market; calls on the Commission to review existing European instruments such as the Quality Framework for Traineeships and the European Framework for Quality and Effective Apprenticeships and to insert quality criteria for the offers made to young people, including the principle of fair remuneration for trainees and interns, access to social protection, sustainable employment and social rights; stresses that these criteria would ensure that the programme effectively helps young people to make the transition into stable, quality employment and helps to ensure gender-balanced opportunities for young people across sectors, opportunities that offer long-term security, social protection and equal and decent working conditions, and that do not contribute to the creation of precarious employment; calls on the Member States and the Commission to develop programmes supporting entrepreneurship, in particular in territories where there is a weak industrial base;

12. Encourages the Commission and the Member States to disseminate good practices as regards social investment so as to foster a more inclusive society and rebalance economic and social progress; stresses the importance of both active labour market policies and social protection schemes in order to avoid a zero-sum game of reshuffling employment between various subgroups of vulnerable people and in particular NEETs; urges the Commission to conduct a study to examine the link between young people without social protection and precarious work;

13. Strongly believes in the objective of improving the socio-economic conditions of young people with the proper implementation of the reinforced Youth Guarantee; reaffirms its position that remuneration should be commensurate with the work provided, the skills and experience of the individual in question and the need for interns, trainees and apprentices on the labour market outside educational curricula to be able to make ends meet; calls on the Commission and the Member States, in collaboration with Parliament, and while respecting the principle of subsidiarity, to propose possible ways forward for the introduction of a common legal instrument ensuring and enforcing fair remuneration for internships, traineeships and apprenticeships in the EU’s labour market; condemns the practice of unpaid internships, traineeships and apprenticeships, which constitutes a form of exploitation of young people’s work and a violation of their rights;

14. Insists that the financing for the Youth Guarantee should be strengthened for the programming period 2021-2027, by means of an increased ESF+ and adequate thematic concentrations; highlights that the amended Commission proposal on ESF+ of 28 May 2020 includes a requirement that Member States with NEET rates above the EU average in 2019 must allocate at least 15 % of their ESF+ resources under shared management to targeted actions and structural reforms to support youth employment, vocational education and training, in particular in the context of implementing Youth Guarantee schemes; deplores the fact that that in its conclusions of 21 July 2020 the European Council significantly reduced this amount to 10 %, which is wholly contradictory to the Union’s ambition to invest in young people;

15. Recalls its position at first reading adopted on 4 April 2019, which includes an additional requirement that all Member States, not only those with a NEET rate above the Union average, should invest at least 3 % of their ESF+ resources under shared management in tackling youth unemployment, in particular in the context of implementing Youth Guarantee schemes, during the programming period 2021-2027;

16. Invites the Member States and the Commission to reflect on the fact that the NEET rate is the sole factor in decisions on the allocation of funds; considers that while this rate shows the number of people who are not in education, employment or training, it completely excludes large numbers of young people who are in involuntary part-time employment, have left the country to find a decent job, are doing undeclared work, or are working but still living in poverty;

17. Urges Member States to undertake a strong commitment to fully implement the Youth Guarantee; highlights that Union financing complements national budgets and does not replace them;

18. Recalls that a reinforced Youth Guarantee can play an important role in supporting Member States in investing, in the context of the European Green Deal, in the creation of employment opportunities in a climate-neutral, energy-efficient and circular economy and in having a skilled workforce for these jobs, ensuring that no young person, especially those belonging to disadvantaged groups, is left behind in the transition to a climate-neutral economy;

19. Reiterates the need to increase the effective use of funding; expects that the streamlined programming and implementation rules under ESF+ would lead to a reduction in administrative costs for beneficiaries, including simplified reporting arrangements; expects Member States to diligently spend funds on youth programmes, which will facilitate youth employment;

20. Stresses the importance of maximising potential synergies between the Youth Guarantee and other relevant EU funds and instruments, including the Recovery and Resilience Facility, the European Child Guarantee, Erasmus+, InvestEU, Horizon Europe and the Just Transition Fund, also in the context of REACT-EU and national recovery plans; in this context, calls on the Member States to prioritise support for the employment of young people in these plans and in their recovery and resilience plans, as well as in the context of REACT-EU; calls on the Member States to make use of SURE resources to support measures for young trainees and interns, such as income support and short-time work schemes;

21. Insists that the Commission enhance its monitoring of the implementation of the Youth Guarantee and its reporting on the results, including monitoring of the beneficiaries under Youth Guarantee schemes and of the nature of the offers so as to ensure their compliance with a new framework of quality standards under the reinforced Youth Guarantee and the long-term insertion into employment of beneficiaries of Youth Guarantee schemes;

22. Underlines that improved data collection is vital for the sustainable labour market integration of the beneficiaries and the efficient use of the Youth Guarantee; encourages the European Court of Auditors to produce follow-up reports on the implementation of Youth Guarantee schemes; in this context, considers it important that the Commission should conduct a study that looks into the link between young people in jobs without social protection and precarious work;

23. Emphasises that the effective implementation of Youth Guarantee schemes and improved access to stable and sustainable jobs require stronger partnerships and efficient coordination between Youth Guarantee providers and relevant stakeholders, such as regional and local authorities, social partners (employers and trade unions), education and training institutions, youth workers, providers of solidarity and civic activities, chambers of commerce and chambers of crafts, youth organisations and other civil society organisations, including NGOs working with disadvantaged persons, especially when exchanging best practices between Member States; calls for the involvement of these stakeholders in the design, implementation and evaluation of Youth Guarantee schemes in order to ensure their effectiveness; urges the Member States to improve the participation of these partners, in particular youth organisations, at all stages of the management of Youth Guarantee schemes and associated EU funding instruments at European, national and local level; is of the opinion that partnerships should clearly outline structures and mechanisms for meaningful participation in decision-making, including the transparent sharing of information;

24. Is convinced that well-targeted awareness raising campaigns in accessible formats – including for persons with disabilities – and youth-friendly communication channels could play a decisive role in reaching out to young people and youth organisations and raising the profile of the initiative, and that it could be particularly beneficial to target early school leavers; highlights that as much funding as possible should go directly to young people; stresses that effective outreach policies need adequate funding and staff capacity, in particular in public employment services (PES), which play a crucial role in effectively reaching out to NEETs but are still suffering the consequences of austerity measures introduced in the aftermath of the last financial crisis; in this context, urges the Member States to invest in their PES in order to provide sufficient human resources and financial support for staff training and equipment to this end;

25. Calls on the Commission to explore the idea of an EU web portal specifically dedicated to traineeships and apprenticeships in the EU, bringing together all existing EU initiatives in a visible, accessible and user-friendly portal; considers that this portal should be adequately publicised through appropriate channels to target its audiences, with a view to putting it in the spotlight for young Europeans, educational institutes and companies throughout the EU; is of the opinion that the portal should steer young talent to where it is most required, point young people to specific needs in the labour market, promote access to linked learning opportunities, improve overall future employability within the EU and contribute to combating youth unemployment and bridging skills gaps;

26. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council and the Commission.

Last updated: 5 October 2020
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