The Youth Guarantee Scheme
The recession in Europe has had a serious impact on many Europeans, however young people have been particularly affected, with the average rate of youth unemployment within the EU currently at 23.7%. In order to avoid a lack of prospects for an entire generation, the European Commission adopted the Youth Employment Package in December 2012. As an initiative of the package, agreed by the Council of the European Union in February 2013, Member States are urged to implement Youth Guarantee Schemeswhich guarantee every unemployed young person under the age of 25 a job, a training programme or an apprenticeship. European funding, particularly through the European Social Fund, will help to set up these schemes. On 23 April 2013, the Employment and Social Affairs Committee of the European Parliament (EP) voted for an amendment to extend this measure to include young people under the age of 30, such as graduates and those who left the education system without any qualifications. The proposed amendment will now be further negotiated by the European Parliament and Council.
The programme is based upon the Youth Guarantee Schemes running at present in some European Member States. In Austria, for instance, every unemployed young person is entitled to beginan apprenticeship, funded by the Austrian government, within three months of becoming unemployed. Youth Guarantee Schemes will also cost money for the state and the EU. The Austrian apprenticeship schemes are financed by the state at a cost of 130 million Euro per year. As a result, at the end of 2012, youth unemployment in Austria was below 8.5%. Countries such as Austria (and Germany) have dual apprenticeship systems that combine apprenticeships within companies with vocational education. However, in many other Member States, and especially those with high youth unemployment rates, this dual system does not currently exist.
The proposed Youth Guarantee Scheme does not clarify whether a young person is entitled to a 3 year apprenticeship scheme or a short internship. Youth Guarantee Schemes which place young people into short-term training or internships should be avoided. The objective of the Youth Guarantee Scheme should be the long-term integration of young people into the employment market to avoid the adverse effects of long-term unemployment, such as social isolation and health problems. One efficient way to help young people to be employed in long-term jobs is to develop individual employment strategies with them, considering their interests and wishes.The project c'mon17 in Austria is a notable example of such personal case management. A team of case workers advise young people and develop individual employment plans with them.
Other regional programmes offer opportunities for vulnerable young people, in cooperation with local stakeholders, for example inthe housing and education sector. A training scheme implemented by the Biscay Provincial Government in Spain focuses specificallyon younger people in jobless households or young people leaving care. The Provincial Government provides housing in shared flats combined with training programmes. In cooperation with the Basque Employment Agency and three non-governmental organisations,they have implementeda training scheme that focuses on up-scaling skills by further education combined with practical, vocational education. The skills gained in the training programme will be certified by official bodies. Sergio Murillo Corzo from the Department of Social Development of Biscay Provincial Government, an ESN member, explains: “The new measures implemented are an answer to the change of the labour market which needs more qualified workers, and we need to offer young people a longer possibility to develop skills.”