Designing Employment Policies for Young People in Europe
Even though some 8.5 million young people in the EU aged between 15 and 29 are still unemployed, the attention paid to this problem by policymakers has waned recently. Several prominent initiatives such as the European Youth Guarantee have been introduced to provide short-term solutions for unemployed youth today. Considerably fewer efforts have been made to achieve long-term structural reforms which would help young people with their career path into employment. Bearing in mind that the causes and shape of youth unemployment in Europe vary widely across EU member states, and that there can be no one-size-fits-all solutions, the project “Innovative Governance | Impact 4 Jobs” argues for a rethinking of youth employment policies in three key ways.
- Youth employment policies should target prevention and focus on the entire career path from education into employment. This process might begin during the final years of general education and is not complete with the first job. To prepare young people for this process, educational institutions need to offer career services and, more importantly, opportunities to acquire practical experience and build networks with employers. Public employment services should be a continuous source of information and advice for young people – not only when they are unemployed or receive benefits.
- Youth employment policies too often focus on young people between the ages of 15 to 24. However, many young people are older than 25 when they first begin seeking full-time employment. This is particularly true for university graduates. Available services and interventions targeted at people entering the labour market for the first time should therefore be expanded to those between 25 and 29 years old.
- Youth employment policies rely on in-depth knowledge about the target group. Programmes, for example designed to foster youth entrepreneurship or international mobility will only be effective if they take into account the specific needs of the participants. Young people should therefore be surveyed, interviewed or included in other ways prior to the design of such programmes, and their feedback should be gathered regularly.
In order for policies to more effectively address these points, youth unemployment should be measured in a more holistic way. Measures should include underemployment, as well as NEET (not in education, employment or training) status, activity rates and youth poverty, thereby providing a more accurate picture of the difficulties young people face when entering the labour market.