Chapter 9: Summary of Conclusions and
Chapter 2: Youth unemployment in the EU
DEFINITION OF YOUTH UNEMPLOYMENT IN THE EU
164. We understand the need for a consistent
definition of youth unemployment to allow for cross-country comparisons,
aggregation of figures at the European level, and to provide clarity
for all those involved in policy-making in the area of youth unemployment.
The International Labour Organisation's definition provides this,
notwithstanding its complexity. However, it is limited in its
usefulness, particularly when trying to understand the issues
for those who are simultaneously in the labour market and in the
education system. The European Commission and Member State governments
should take care to recognise the diversity of the different situations
which underlie the headline figures, and ensure that policy is
founded on an accurate and nuanced assessment of the issues (paragraph
165. Although we understand the significant issues
which confront many of the young people characterised as NEET,
we find the term ambiguous and at times unhelpful, because of
the broad scope of young people it encompasses (paragraph 23).
166. The youth unemployment crisis has affected
graduates and young people who are highly skilled, less skilled
and those who struggle most to access the labour market. We recognise
that some young people within these groups are disproportionately
impacted by the youth unemployment crisis, including those from
some ethnic minority groups, people with disabilities, young parents
and those coming from the care system. The issues that affect
the access of different types of young people to the labour market
are varied and policy responses must take account of this and
ensure that young people in need of help are not excluded from
the labour market, education or training systems (paragraph 24).
IS THE YOUTH UNEMPLOYMENT CRISIS LONG-TERM OR SHORT-TERM?
167. The current high levels of youth unemployment
in the EU are not solely a consequence of the 2008 global financial
crisis and the ensuing recession. Rather, the cause of the unemployment
crisis differs between Member States. For some Member States,
it is due more to underlying structural issues in the youth labour
market that have been accentuated by the financial crisis. The
EU and individual Member States will need to employ both long-term
and short-term solutions to address the youth unemployment crisis
YOUTH UNEMPLOYMENT IN A UK CONTEXT
168. We are particularly concerned about 16-18
year old NEET young people in the UK, who risk becoming invisible
to the authorities through their lack of access to the benefits
system and absence of other means of engagement. We encourage
the UK Government to use EU funds in a way which helps identify
problems and solutions within this group. We believe this would
represent clear added value to existing national provision (paragraph 35).
Chapter 3: EU measures to address youth unemployment
IS EU ACTION APPROPRIATE?
169. We acknowledge that responsibility for dealing
with youth unemployment rests primarily with Member States, and
the key measures to address the issue should be introduced at
national level. However, we believe it is both important and appropriate
that the EU continues to have a role in providing funding and
other forms of support to reduce youth unemployment. There are
benefits from Member States coordinating responses to the youth
unemployment situation, through the sharing of good practice (see
Chapter 7) and the use of EU funds for specific tasks which
complement action at national level, such as kick-starting structural
changes (paragraph 43).
EFFECTIVENESS OF EU FUNDS TO ADDRESS YOUTH UNEMPLOYMENT
170. EU funds are limited in comparison with
the scale of the crisis and with the amount that Member States
have already pledged to address youth unemployment. EU funding
should not be used to subsidise national approaches, but should
be put towards establishing new initiatives and trying new methods,
including those that have been successfully pioneered in other
countries or regions worldwide. Where useful, it should be used
to facilitate longer-term project cycles (paragraph 48).
171. It is right that the Youth Employment Initiative
targets EU regions that are experiencing the highest levels of
unemployment. Given the finite resources available and the importance
of the resources attaining maximum impact, we recommend that the
UK Government focus the funding available from the Youth Employment
Initiative wholly on the five areas identified in the UK. The
Government should use the European Social Fund and government
spending to target those areas, such as Outer London, that are
experiencing high unemployment but are not eligible to receive
funding from the Youth Employment Initiative. (paragraph 49).
EVALUATING THE USE OF THE EU FUNDING
172. We recommend that there should be a move
away from evaluating European Social Fund schemes based on the
cost and number of participants. The European Commission should
instead move towards an evaluation of programmes that looks at
their impact on the youth job market in real terms, over a long
period of time and prioritises understanding how and why actions
are successful, not just whether they are. The European Commission
should report to Member States on these evaluations at least every
five years (paragraph 52).
173. The majority of the evidence we received
suggests that the Youth Guarantee is a very useful initiative,
which responds to the need for early intervention with young people
to prevent them becoming unemployed in the long-term, which can
have scarring effects. Implementation of the Youth Guarantee would
help to address the current particularly high levels of youth
unemployment, but should be accompanied by other measures that
seek to remove the underlying structural problems related to the
youth labour market in Member States such as the UK (paragraph 57).
174. Having regard to the success of Youth Guarantees
in other Member States, we believe that the successful implementation
of a Youth Guarantee could provide Member States with a clear
benchmark to work towards in terms of avoiding long-term youth
unemployment (paragraph 58).
FLEXIBILITY OF EU MEASURES
175. EU proposals to address youth unemployment
strike a good balance between setting out an EU strategy to reduce
unemployment (based on the good practice of different Member States)
and allowing individual Member States to tailor EU funding and
proposals to specific national circumstances (paragraph 60).
Chapter 4: Use of EU funding and initiatives in
GOVERNMENT POSITION ON THE YOUTH EMPLOYMENT INITIATIVE
176. We regret the UK Government's delay in submitting
their plan setting out how they will spend the Youth Employment
Initiative funds. We are also disappointed with the Government's
lack of support for the European Commission's Recommendation for
these funds to be used to set up a Youth Guarantee. We recommend
that the Youth Employment Initiative funds should be used to pilot
a Youth Guarantee scheme in the five areas expected to benefit
from the Youth Employment Initiative (paragraph 66).
INTERACTION BETWEEN CURRENT UK GOVERNMENT FUNDING
AND EU MEASURES
177. We are not convinced by the UK Government's
argument that the Youth Contract meets the aims of a Youth Guarantee.
The Youth Contract has as its focus the financial bolstering of
the demand side (for example, via wage incentives for employers)
in order to create work experience opportunities for young people.
The Youth Guarantee is focused on individuals and commits to finding
them a suitable placement within four months. This in turn differs
from the Work Programme, which focuses on finding sustainable
job opportunities for those referred to it (paragraph 70).
178. We recommend that the UK Government reconsider
the decision to use the Youth Employment Initiative funding to
bolster existing domestic initiatives, including the Youth Contract.
They should instead implement a pilot Youth Guarantee in
the five areas which will receive the Youth Employment Initiative
funding. The Youth Contract is focused on addressing the longer-term
structural issue of a lack of entry-level opportunities in the
youth labour market. The Youth Guarantee's focus on stemming the
post-2008 increase in youth unemployment would therefore complement
rather than duplicate the work of the Youth Contract (paragraph 72).
GAPS IN UK FUNDING PROVISION
179. The funding available at UK level is largely
focused on disadvantaged or long-term unemployed young people,
rather than other young people who might also be struggling to
find appropriate and sustainable work. We agree that the majority
of the funding in this area should be focused on those young people
who are the hardest-to-reach (paragraph 75).
180. We note that highly skilled young people
who are 'underemployed' can create a blockage to entry-level jobs
for other young people. We recommend that the UK Government use
some of the European Social Fund to introduce ways of assisting
highly skilled young people to access the labour market, for example,
through improved careers advice or support for entrepreneurship.
This would complement their use of the majority of government
and EU funding to target those disadvantaged young people who
may be harder-to-reach (paragraph 76).
TIMESCALES FOR SPENDING EU FUNDS
181. The current system of managing EU funding
in the UK is too centralised and over-reliant on very large-scale,
standardised contracts. We believe that this has resulted in provision
which is insufficiently tailored to local needs and which makes
ineffective use of local civil society organisations, local authority
experience and specialist knowledge, particularly in relation
to services for harder-to-reach young people. It also prevents
proper engagement with young people and local businesses. We therefore
welcome the UK Government's commitment to introduce greater localisation
into the allocation of funding and their undertaking to give additional
freedoms and flexibilities to Local Enterprise Partnerships. We
urge the Government to ensure that this local approach is carried
through to the finalised programme guidance and recommend that
they consider full devolution of responsibilities, including programme
management and delivery, to those local authorities and Local
Enterprise Partnerships who see a need for it in their area (paragraph 83).
182. We recommend that the UK Government and
local authorities produce written guidance to help Local Enterprise
Partnerships and other relevant bodies to build quickly an understanding
of what has previously been successful in the area of provision
for young unemployed people. This should be based on robust evaluation
and experience and should be disseminated widely (paragraph 84).
183. We recommend that local authorities and
Local Enterprise Partnerships use the seven year cycle connected
with EU funds to complement national measures, which are often
two or three years in duration, by funding longer-term projects.
These would provide sustainable solutions for young people and
businesses that need more targeted support, and help overcome
the current situation where provision is short-term and continually
changing. The UK Government should ensure that the terms of their
agreement with local authorities and Local Enterprise Partnerships
enables them to use the funds in this way (paragraph 85).
Chapter 5: Using EU funds to prepare young people
A HOLISTIC APPROACH
184. The successful provision of support to young
people to prepare them for work demands a holistic approach centred
around the individual. Key issues specific to each individual,
such as their access to transport, the need for a safe and welcoming
environment at home and in the workplace, criminal records, learning
difficulties and other personal considerations, need to be taken
into account (paragraph 89).
185. In recent years a number of factors, including
an increase in the number of small businesses with limited resources,
have resulted in a move towards the expectation that young people
should be 'work-ready', rather than being trained 'on the job'.
We welcome the focus in the European Regional Development Fund
Regulations on supporting SMEs so that they can take on apprentices
186. We welcome the efforts made at EU level
to address the skills mismatch, via the introduction of the EU
Skills Panorama. We recognise that the skills mismatch is a particular
problem in the UK, resulting in particularly high unemployment
rates amongst low-skilled young unemployed people. We therefore
recommend that the UK Government integrate the EU Skills Panorama
into careers services provided at a national level, through schools,
job centres and online resources (paragraph 102).
187. We agree with the European Council that
a greater focus on Information and Communications Technology (ICT)
skills is necessary, particularly as the ICT sector is currently
experiencing a skills shortage. However, we caution against an
over-concentration in this area, at the expense of other emerging
sectors. The UK Government could use the European Social Fund
and European Regional Development Fund to support enhanced provision
of both basic and higher level ICT training and skills training
in general for young people in schools and businesses (paragraph 103).
188. There are a variety of sources of careers
advice which need to be coordinated. The UK Government should
continue to use the European Social Fund to support the National
Careers Service and extend its face-to-face element beyond the
12 centres currently offered. They should also encourage use of
the European Social Fund to improve labour market knowledge at
earlier stages in young people's progression through education
and training. One way of doing this would be by continuing to
make support available to NEET young people. The National Careers
Service should act as a 'one stop shop' to refer young people
to the different sources of careers advice (paragraph 110).
189. We also recommend that the UK Government
use the European Social Fund and the European Regional Development
Fund to enable businesses to connect with schools in order to
provide careers advice. This could be facilitated through business
representation in Local Enterprise Partnerships (paragraph 111).
Chapter 6: The job market for youth in the EU
190. We consider that greater flexibility in
the labour market, such as zero-hours contracts, can provide opportunities
for young people to gain work experience and help to reduce high
levels of youth unemployment. Concerns about the exploitation
of workers and unfair working practices should be mitigated by
the proper implementation of existing EU and national legislation
to protect workers' rights, such as minimum wage levels (paragraph 115).
APPRENTICESHIPS AND TRAINEESHIPS
191. We conclude that the development of a variety
of career pathways, including apprenticeships, traineeships and
internships, is important in reducing youth unemployment in Europe.
However, we are concerned about the proliferation of schemes being
identified as apprenticeships but whose quality and applicability
to the labour market is questionable. We believe that it is important
to ensure that internships enable young people to access the labour
market, and are not offered as a substitute for employment. We
therefore endorse the European Commission's attempts to create
a common understanding of what constitutes either an apprenticeship
or traineeship in the EU. We recommend that, as much as possible,
the UK Government should develop their future policies in this
area in line with EU definitions (paragraph 123).
MIGRATIONBENEFITS AND CHALLENGES
192. In the current difficult economic and employment
climate, we believe that the free movement of workers in the EU
is particularly important. The use of these rights can contribute
to reducing youth unemployment in the EU (paragraph 129).
EU MEASURES TO SUPPORT YOUTH MIGRATION
193. We recommend that schools, higher education
institutions and youth groups, as well as Government and EU institutions,
provide more information and encouragement to young people about
the opportunities and support available to them to seek employment
elsewhere in the EU (paragraph 133).
194. We recommend that the European Commission
should make youth entrepreneurship a more explicit focus for the
European Regional Development Fund and the European Social Fund
Chapter 7: Evidence of good practice
EU MEASURES TO SHARE GOOD PRACTICE
195. There are many examples of good practice
available at local, national and EU levels. We acknowledge the
efforts that the European Commission has made in facilitating
the sharing of these examples through publications and through
the organisation of meetings and conferences for relevant stakeholders
to compare experiences (paragraph 144).
196. Implementing good practice successfully
is a challenge because of the different social and economic factors
at play in different regions. We believe there is scope for the
European Commission and Member States to use EU funds to conduct
more detailed analysis about how good practice can be used to
improve the performance of measures that seek to address youth
unemployment (paragraph 145).
ROLE OF SOCIAL PARTNERS
197. We welcome the increased cooperation between
employers and trade unions at UK and EU level to reduce youth
unemployment. We recommend that the UK Government learn from the
good practice in other Member States, where social partners (trade
unions and employers' organisations) work more closely with the
government and with each other (paragraph 150).
Chapter 8: Voices of young people
EU LEVEL CONSULTATION
198. We welcome the efforts made by the European
Commission to consult young people and their representatives in
the development of EU policies to reduce youth unemployment. We
recommend that the European Commission continues this work into
the future (paragraph 155).
UK GOVERNMENT CONSULTATION
199. We recommend that the UK Government requires
Local Enterprise Partnerships to consult with and involve youth
groups in developing policies that affect young people, such as
measures to address youth unemployment (paragraph 160).
CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANISATIONS' CONSULTATION
200. We are convinced that the meaningful consultation
of young people in the development and implementation of programmes
to reduce youth unemployment is a necessary component for success.
We believe there is a danger that consultation processes will
lack credibility if those involved cannot see that their input
has been taken into account and made a difference. We therefore
encourage the European Commission and UK Government to enhance
their efforts in this respect and to evaluate and publicise specific
examples of where the involvement of young people has had an influence