Poland could ease the strain on its labour market by finding ways to support the roughly 750,000 people aged 15 to 29 who aren’t working or studying, the Institute for Structural Research (IBS) found.
As part of the Youth Employment PartnerSHIP programme, the IBS is conducting research on the 12% of people in this age group classified as NEETs (Not in Employment, Education or Training). The project seeks to identify why young people aren’t working, test various schemes for getting them to start and propose solutions that would help them enter the labour market.
“It’s a paradox that employers are having trouble finding workers, and at the same time there’s such a large group of young people who can’t find work or aren’t even looking,” said IBS vice president Iga Magda, a professor at the Warsaw School of Economics. “With support from the government, these people could find work in services, trade or tourism. The problem is that neither decisionmakers nor businesspeople can reach them.”
Unemployment in the Central European country of 38 million people was 3.3% in September, the third-lowest in the EU, according to data from Eurostat. Employers are complaining of a shortage of workers, with migrants from neighbouring Ukraine helping to relieve the pressure in many industries.
As in other countries in the region, the majority of Poland’s NEETs (about 500,000) are women, who are shouldered with most of the responsibility for caring for children.
“We need to look at the effectiveness of programmes to bring young mothers back to the labour market,” says Magda. “Experience in countries such as Germany, France and Sweden shows that women’s labour-force participation increases when they can find part-time work and there’s widespread access to high-quality nurseries and preschools.”
Elsewhere in the EU, 25% of Italians aged 15-29 are NEETs, as are 12.5% of their Hungarian peers. To combat social exclusion, the European Commission in 2013 launched its Youth Guarantee programme, financing efforts to keep young people working or studying. In Poland the funds are administered mainly by county (powiat) labour offices, but almost 70% of young people don’t officially register as unemployed, severely limiting their access to the programme.