Taking on 'one of Europe's most pressing challenges': Youth unemployment

Written by Marianne Thyssen on 3 December 2015 in Opinion

Employment in the EU is slowly on the rise, but young people are still struggling to find jobs that match their skills - something Marianne Thyssen says she is committed to tackling.

Economic recovery in Europe is getting back on track and unemployment is slowly coming down, but this does not mean that we can lay back and relax our efforts. With 4.5 million young people looking for work, youth unemployment remains one of the most pressing challenges in the EU today. 

I made youth unemployment my priority when I took office a year ago. We have been working on many fronts to get Europe growing again and help young people into jobs.

The youth guarantee, Europe's main tool to tackle youth unemployment, has been quickly implemented by member states and is starting to show first good results. 


In May, the Commission paid €1bn upfront to the 28 EU member states under the €6.4bn youth employment initiative, to speed up the implementation of the youth guarantee and to get projects operating quickly on the ground. 

Already, this is starting to show encouraging results. There are almost 10 per cent less young people unemployed this year compared to last. This is a very encouraging sign and I hope this positive trend will continue.

We haven't stopped there. On the contrary, we are seeking new allies in this challenge. Businesses are also part of the solution in the struggle against youth unemployment. In Riga, in June, companies and organisations committed to make 140,000 apprenticeships available to young people through the European alliance for apprenticeship. 

Recently, at the Europe 2020 Summit, we launched the business-led initiative Pact for Youth, which commits to delivering at least 100,000 new apprenticeships, traineeships and entry-level jobs by 2017. This adds up to a quarter million new opportunities for youth across Europe and I hope over time that we can deliver even more ambitious targets.

At the same time, it's also important to make sure that people have the right skills to take up the right jobs. We face a paradoxical situation. While there are many unemployed, there are also two million unfilled vacancies across the European Union. One in four employers report difficulties in finding people with the right skills. 

I am really pleased that just a few days ago, we successfully concluded talks with the European Parliament and the Council on the reform of the EURES job search platform. This will greatly contribute to better matching the jobs on offer with the profiles of jobseekers.

Next year I will also propose an EU wide skills agenda. This agenda will focus on action to increase skills, employability and entrepreneurship. We will seek to improve the recognition and portability of qualifications. 

And we will develop tools to better anticipate skills needs - so that jobseekers and potential employers find each other faster on the labour market and training providers can develop programmes to respond to emerging trends and regional specialisms. 

I am convinced that investing in people pays off. We are fully engaged in helping young people in their aspirations to build independent lives and in their ambition to put their talents into motion. We won't stop our efforts to help young people into jobs and careers.


About the author

Marianne Thyssen is European employment, social affairs, skills and labour mobility Commissioner

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