Perspectives on Youth Employment in Europe (n. 5)

A new start

On the 1stof July, the European Commission launched its new blueprint in the field of youth employment: the Youth Employment Support, a wide ranging programme which will invest €22 billion in labour market integration of young people throughout the European Union over the next seven years[1].

The main objectives of the new initiative are as follows:

  • To widen and reinforce the Youth Guarantee through the new Bridge for Jobs programme[2], making it more inclusive and reaching out to discriminated groups such as youth of racial and ethnic minorities, young people with disabilities, or young people living in some rural, remote or disadvantaged urban areas. It will also extend its coverage to young people from 15 to 29 (up from 25 now)[3]; as for the Youth Guarantee, the aim of the Bridge to Jobs is that a young person can take up a quality offer of continued education, apprenticeship, traineeship or a job within four months of becoming unemployed or leaving formal education. During these four months, the young person should be made aware of all the options they may have and be guided towards an offer.
  • To ingrain the green and digital transitions in the DNA of the EU’s youth and employment policies, thus supporting the ambitious economic and social transformation at the heart of the European Union strategy for the coming years, the so-called Green Deal.
  • To improve the skills matching between the needs of employers and the skills supply of workers, making the economy more efficient and improving the return on investments in education.
  • To give a boost to vocational education and training (VET) throughout the European Union, making VET systems more modern, attractive, flexible and fit for the digital and green economy, and more apt to support young people in preparing for their first job and adults to enhance or change their careers[4].
  • To expand the European Alliance for Apprenticeships (which has made available more than 900,000 apprenticeship opportunities) through by promoting national coalitions, supporting SMEs and reinforcing the involvement of social partners: trade unions and employers’ organisations.
  • Additionalmeasures to support youth employment include employment and start-up incentives in the short term, and capacity building, young entrepreneur networks and inter-company training centres in the medium term

Bridge for Jobs

The new initiative comes at a time when the coronavirus crisis has swept away overnight all the progress made in terms of youth employment in Europe since the peak of the crisis in 2013[5]. It had taken six years for the average youth unemployment rate to get back below the pre-crisis levels (EU-27 15-29 youth unemployment went up from 11.9% in 2008 to a peak of 19% in 2013, to go down to 11.4%, just before the pandemic hit). Now all indicators show that it will quickly spike up in 2020 as a consequence of the crisis. But the COVID-19 has also prompted the European Union to take unprecedented measures to jointly respond to the crisis, and has contributed to put youth employment at the heart of EU economic strategy. The new EU budget for the 2021-2027 period, as well as the ambitious €750 billion “NextGenerationEU” package, both agreed on the 21 July by the EU Council[6], will ensure sufficient financial resources required to implement this initiative over the next years. On the short term, the REACT-EU programme will add €55 billion to the ongoing 2014-2020 cohesion policy programmes[7], topping-up the European Social Fund and mobilizing new funds for youth employment initiatives. One of the distribution criteria of this new budget will be the effect of the ongoing crisis on youth employment.

The challenge now is to ensure that implementation modalities set the path for success and translate into concrete opportunities for the more than 2.8 million young (under 25) unemployed people in Europe. And for this, a crucial issue is to involve in the Bridge for Jobs initiative, along public employment services, civil society organizations active in the field of employment such as the 200 EEA and Norway Youth Fund project partners, which are the main source of innovation in searching for new ways of dealing with youth employment issues.

Our Spanish Youth Employment Expert


[1]See Communication COM/2020/276 final from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions, “Youth Employment Support: A Bridge to Jobs for the Next Generation”,
[2]Proposal for a Council Recommendation on A Bridge to Jobs – Reinforcing the Youth Guarantee and repleacling Council Recommendation of 22 April 2013 on establishing a Youth Guarantee,
[3]See Perspectives on Youth Employment in YEM nº 3 for a Youth Fund projects partners insights into the main Youth Guarantee shortcomings.
[4]Proposal for a Council Recommendation on vocational education and training (VET) for sustainable competitiveness, social fairness and resilience,
[5]See the Baseline Study published as an Annex to this YEM issue for a snapshot of the situation in 2018, as well as Perspectives on Youth Employment in YEM nº 5 and YEM nº 6 on the impact of coronavirus on youth employment
[7]For basic information oni t, see,


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