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The implementation of the youth guarantee scheme: an employment booster for young Europeans?

Fifth session in the cycle on

 

Job opportunities in 2020

 

Click here to view a summary of the event

 

3 June 2016

 

Speakers:

Ulrike Storost

Team Leader, Youth employment team, European Commission (DG EMPL)

 

Ignacio Doreste

Youth Officer, ETUC

 

Moderator:

Nicolas Vincent

 

In April 2013, EU Member States made a commitment to ensure young people's successful transition into work by establishing the Youth Guarantee scheme. 

 

The Youth Guarantee is both a structural reform to drastically improve school-to-work transitions and a measure to immediately support jobs for young people.

 

In practice, it seeks to ensure that all young people under 25 have access to a good-quality and concrete offer of employment, continued education, apprenticeship or traineeship within a period of four months of becoming unemployed or leaving formal education.

 

The 14th session of Policies & Practices looked into the Youth Guarantee more than three years after the EU recommendations, with the setting-up of a new Commission team and new challenges upfront.

 

THE YOUTH GUARANTEE RATIONALE

Ulrike Storost, team leader of the Youth Employment team at DG EMPL, opened the discussion. Ms Storost presented the rationale behind the programme: “the initial idea”, she said, “was to look beyond this traditional group of those who actually register as unemployed”. Embracing a wider population than the unemployed youth who officially registered was a key element of the Youth Guarantee: “those who are not registered should also not be left alone for longer than four months”, said Ms Storost. “It was and still is a major challenge.”

 

In a second step, the young people should be offered quality opportunities and this is where the Youth Guarantee is broader than a job scheme. Ms Storost explained the scheme provides “a range of different offers that are in a way on equal footing and what is considered ‘quality’ then depends also very much on the individual.” Depending on the young people’s profiles, it can be an offer of education for those who need to improve their skill in the first place, or an offer for a traineeship or an apprenticeship. 

 

THREE YEARS INTO THE YOUTH GUARANTEE

Ms Storost stressed the high political commitment the Youth Guarantee received right from the start. “In the first years”, she added, “there were three conferences at the level of heads of state and government really focusing on youth unemployment and on the Youth Guarantee.”

 

Ms Storost also highlighted the importance of key performance indicators to monitor the scheme. 

 

A second reason Ms Storost attributed to the Youth Guarantee success was the learning exchanges at the European level. 

 

As for one of the greatest challenge the Youth Guarantee faces, it is a question of funding and sustainability, particularly in 2016. “It goes hand in hand with continuous political commitment”, noticed Ms Storost. As youth unemployment remains high in the EU, Ms Storost added that there was a 1.4 million drop in the number of unemployed youth since the Youth Guarantee recommendation’s adoption. 

 

However, there still are major differences between Member States: from around 7% in Germany of youth unemployment to several countries with more than 35%–40% of youth unemployment. “The figures are still too high in many countries”, Ms Storost acknowledged. “This is the context in which we now need to keep up the political commitment and I think that's really crucial.”

 

POSITIVE SIDES OF THE YOUTH GUARANTEE AND POSSIBLE IMPROVEMENTS, AS SEEN BY ETUC

Youth Officer at ETUC, Ignacio Doreste was the second panelist of the session. The trade union welcomed the initiative, recalled Mr Doreste, while remaining critical. First, funding is considered by the union as being insufficient, especially “in a broader framework of austerity measures, of reduction of the public deficit and of labour reforms”, added Mr Doreste. Knowing that only one third of the funding available has been used”, Mr Doreste added, reallocation of the funding, he fears, is likely to go to other initiatives that have no connection with youth employment.

 

“We believe”, Mr Doreste said, “that a proper implementation and effective implementation of the Youth Guarantee should be funded by €21 billion per year” as recommended by the International Labour Organisation.

 

“It was also included in the Council recommendation”, Mr Doreste added, “that this scheme should be designed, implemented and assessed through a partnership approach”, where employers, youth organisations and trade unions should be collaborating on the design and implementation of the measures. “Unfortunately,” Mr Doreste regretted, “since the moment Member States were submitting proposals to the European Commission, this partnership approach was not respected.”

 

ETUC wants to be considered as an ally to the European Commission: by putting pressure on governments together in order to obtain a more effective and qualitative Youth Guarantee. 

 

Mr Doreste added the Youth Guarantee does not constitute a substitute to macroeconomic instruments. The Youth Guarantee was meant to present a large array of skills whilst addressing the structural issues of the labor market. 

 

On the positive side, Mr Doreste mentioned encouraging figures: 1.3 million young people actually benefited from actions by the Youth Guarantee, with a €6.4 billion spending that is too say 2/3 (between actual expenditure and allocation of funds).. Mr Doreste noticed also that implementation was now pacing up nicely.

 

BEST PRACTICES AND INDICATORS

From the floor, Dora Husz, Team Leader at DG JUST, asked what best practices could come to the panelists’ mind, especially on the issue of reaching out to specific targets usually hard to aim. Ms Storost replied that a cornerstone to success was to work with youth organisations. They help avoid the dropouts through additional mentoring and provide a longer-term follow-up. 

 

Furthermore, Ms Storost explained that there were macroeconomic indicators on youth employment and other metrics showing the participation of young people in the scheme: “there are also indicators on how many of them got an offer after four months, which kind of offer, and how many actually then followed up.” 

 

Mr Doreste added “we could share some good practices in reaching those who are more vulnerable in the labour market.” Mr Doreste added it is also important to identify good practices also from a qualitative point of view

 

PARTNERSHIP APPROACH AND THE MEMBER STATES

Bodil Agasøster, Director of the South Norway European Office, asked the panelists to explain the hesitation of Member States in taking forward the partnership approach. “Was it because of lack of understanding of what was needed?”, asked Mr Agasøster. Mr Doreste replied that, in his view, one could put this down to limited industrial relations all across the EU, including in Member States with reputation for a constructive social dialogue.

 

QUALITY OPPORTUNITIES OF THE YOUTH GUARANTEE

Frank Dieter Fischbach, Executive Secretary of the Conference of European Churches, asked if the panelists could develop on the question of quality of employment and the type of contracts that are offered and if they could look into the question of precarious work and the working poor. “To which extend this type of questions is monitored by the Commission?”, asked Mr Fischbach. Youth employment is more volatile, Ms Storost agreed, and some countries are overrepresented in temporary employment contracts. “We look very closely at the issue”, Ms Storost added, such as the transition rates from temporary to permanent employment. A high dropout rate or a high rate of people coming back after a while should give an idea of what is or is not a stable employment, stable apprenticeships and this defines the quality of all these offers.

 

Ms Storost described what was considered a quality offer: “if young people don't return to unemployment or inactivity six months to twelve months after”. Ms Storost added: “An EU study of 2013 shows that there is a high rate of transitions in apprenticeships, meaning many young apprentices are taken over even by their own hosting company after finishing their apprenticeship.”

 

Mr Doreste praised the focus of the Commission on quality opportunities. “What do we refer to when talking about a quality offer in the framework of the Youth Guarantee?”, he asked. Mr Doreste said it should entail the contract, a decent salary, social protection, health and safety in the workplace. 

 

Regarding traineeships, Mr Doreste praised the assessment of the European Commission regarding the quality framework for a traineeships in December 2013. “It was proven that in many countries, unfortunately, traineeship are misused by companies, where they take over a real employment position”. Although, “when it came to offer proposals in order to set into motion a framework, the proposal was rather weak”, Mr Doreste regretted, before adding some Member States had lobbied hard against it.

 

In the Commission’s view, said Mr Doreste, “any traineeship is valid as far as there is a written contract.” For ETUC, it is only a prerequisite to which should be added: “not replacing a job, having a mentor, receiving a fee, even having social protection during that period, delivery of a training certificate.”

 

Dasha Bespyatova, Policy Analyst at Edenred and co-founder of InternsGoPro, asked Ms Storost what was the Commission’s approach to the indicators of the skills young people have or might acquire through these opportunities. “We believe that policies tackling skills are more than needed”, the panelist replied. The trade union movement is very involved in designing skills in the vocational school system. The Youth Guarantee includes also measures promoting skills and tackling the supply side of labour”, Ms Storost added.

 

Mr Doreste underlined that the current focus on reducing public expenditures was going against creating opportunities for young people. As a conclusion to the session, the ETUC representative said they were looking forward to the publication of the Commission’s report on the Youth Guarantee to be published in October.

 

 

 

Logistics

When

Thursday 23 November, 2017
08.30 to 10.00

CET

 

Where

Radisson RED Brussels

Idaliestraat 35
1050 Brussels, Belgium

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Policies & Practices