youth-unemploymentUnemployment in the eurozone area stood at an eye-watering 11.6% in September, but that figure disguises the way the crisis is affecting different groups. Young people in particular have been disproportionately affected, with youth unemployment in some countries rising above 50%. Whilst many young people will be studying full time (and therefore won’t be counted in the statistics as part of the labour force), the youth unemployment rate in the EU-27 is still around twice as high as the rate for the total population.

In an earlier debate on education, we had  a comment sent in by Tony on youth unemployment arguing that: “Whereas unemployment is dreadful experience, at whatever age, the long-term scarring effect makes it especially destructive for young adults. [What can we do] to ensure that those coming into the labour market have best possible chance of competing for scarce jobs?

We recently spoke to Elsa Fornero, Italy’s Minister of Labour, and asked her to respond to Tony’s question.

Tony is perfectly right in saying that unemployment, and particularly youth unemployment, is a trap for Europe and is a problem that should be addressed in terms of more resources… We need some kind of macro-economic European policy that addresses the challenges of the European economy.

It is true that we have had excessive financial constraints until now. One has to remember, however, that only one year ago there were many analysts saying the chance for Europe to collapse within a year was very high. The measures taken so far were necessary to reduce the probability of a crisis of national debt. The effects of failure would not have been confined within financial markets, and would have had catastrophic consequences on families.

Micro-economic measures are needed to introduce more flexibility into the labour market. However, one cannot just talk about ‘automatic adjustments’ in the labour market as a solution. Greater flexibility is not the same thing as job precariousness, and I agree we should try to restrain the precariousness of jobs that have characterized youth employment.

We’ve had a couple of debates (here and here, for example) looking at whether or not Europe can afford its social model. Most of our commenters very much support the European social model, but one or two have argued that it will be difficult to sustain. How would respond to this debate? Can we afford to keep the European social model?

I think we have to. We have to keep the good features of the European social model but correct the bad features, such as the lack of transparency in the welfare system and inefficient redistribution. The system has to be redesigned according to principles that emphasise financial stability, because it’s relatively easy to push the cost burden of these promises onto those that are young or still unborn.

Finally, we had a comment from Vicente arguing that the current crisis is not so much a problem with the euro as it is a result of globalization. Vicente argues that: “The EU demands high standards on the production of goods and [high environmental standards]. On the other hand, it allows the import of goods from countries that they do not follow any of our standards.

He calls for greater protection for European economies. How would you respond to Vicente’s suggestion?

I would respond by saying I believe that competition can deliver greater welfare than protectionism. So, in general terms, protectionism is never a good answer to international imbalances. Instead, we need to correct these international imbalances in two ways: firstly, by trying to address the structural problems of many European economies; i.e. too many rigidities, over-burdensome bureaucracy, a need for greater liberalisation of markets, and so on.

But we do also need to address some of the concerns of Vicente. A balance has to be reached in international agreements, with more rights for workers where labour costs are lower. Let’s say markets are very lax in those countries, workers have little rights and perhaps little wages. So, we also need to correct these imbalances in order to ensure a functioning and sustainable global economy.

What do YOU think? How can Europe bring down youth unemployment? Is it possible to make labour markets more flexible without increasing the feeling of job precariousness for young people? Does the solution to youth unemployment lie at the national level, or is this something that Europeans will have to tackle together? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below, and we’ll take them to policy-makers and experts for their reactions.

IMAGE CREDITS: CC / Flickr – Tax Credits

42 comments Post a commentcomment

  1. avatar
    Albert Saxén

    Um, actually i think making them that – flexible – would make them (yng people) less so ..

  2. avatar
    Hasan Özdemir

    ?t is impossible, because the job experiment is similar education and it needs a long process. You should prefer either the flexible or steady. Prefer the steady ?n my opinion in Europe, because Europe needs a high technology production.

  3. avatar
    Hasan Özdemir

    Meanwhile if not the high technology production, EU might work youth less salaries, instead of the flexible.

  4. avatar
    Professor Patricia Leighton

    We need to make self-employent/freelance working more acceptable and better supported, especially for graduate unemployment. They must stop being treated with suspicion and denied access to support structures. There must be more training and life-long learning facilities and people should be able to more easily learn about being an entrepreneur and being self-reliant.

  5. avatar

    Age: 26
    Nationality: British
    Previous Occupation: Royal Navy Operator Mechanic
    Education Level: BA International Development
    Suitable for the following jobs according to Jobcentre: Temporary Kitchen Assistant, Part-Time Catering Assistant. Temporary Call Centre Worker.

    Inspiringly pathetic.

    That was the situation for me 2 years ago and then again 6 months ago. Up until 6 months ago I was doing the lame agency catering jobs with no fixed hours or guaranteed work on minimum wage slave labour with little choice in where I was being sent on any given day. The overall impression people my age and younger get is that the jobs we were promised are suddenly not there. The people who should either be moving on up the ladder or leaving the labour market altogether simply aren’t, instead they’re clinging on to these jobs by their baby boomer finger tips. Worse still, when it comes to laying people off employers are allowed to disproportionately inflict the job losses on employees who’ve been with the business for the least amount of time, invariably the youngest. Also youth doesn’t feel like much of an advantage when you have to compete with all those baby boomers who’ve got 20 years or more on you. Many of the so-called ’employment opportunities’ for internships or apprenticeships in the UK are little more than exploitative revolving door schemes without a job offer at the end.

    Anyway, I’m sure there’s plenty of examples of people doing well but for the majority this isn’t the case. Sorry I couldn’t be more constructive but instead I moved to India to cut the cr@p and start using my degree.

  6. avatar
    Ignacio C. Furfaro

    Very strict labour protection legislation often has a counterproductive effect: it deters people from employing, because they are afraid that if they hire and then the business goes wrong, they would loose everything. On the contrary, with more flexible legislation, people are more encouraged to hire because risks are not that high. In my personal experience, I rather have a precarious job than not to have a job at all.

  7. avatar
    Hasan Özdemir

    Some production lands might claim that they produce a high technology production also.?f you look for only from the exclude of it, you might believe that claim and you might spend resources of no avail. Therefore you must inspect in detail too. “The evil is in detail”, for example European Court of Human Rights hides the every sort of evils on behind of the backlog of itself. The Vice President Guido Raimondi rejected exactly as unjust my cases application number : 23064/08. You might say that “so what” of course. But ECHR is not rejecting the Case of Chaplin and Others v. UK, why Pope implied the cases must accept. Whereas the cases had have rejected already. You should bring down the salaries of some Catholic Judges of ECHR and you should use that money for youth.

  8. avatar
    Ioannis Koutoudis

    Without new jobs in EU countries decreasing youth unemployment means increasing unemployment for middle-aged and older manpower, while retirement age is increasing.

    More favourable to youth labour markets will in time turn against them, eventually they will age. It is worse to have experienced manpower unemployed. Plus middlepaged people have families and children who must be educated in order to be the next genaration of manpower.

    I stand against an exchange of unmployment between age-groups.

    Instead I suggest to reinforce youth entrepreneurship through “incubators*”. This will decrease the costs and it will be easier in any way foa young people to open their own business (Most of them innovatives). Through this kind of support it is less likely to fail as well. Believe it or not subsidies and easy bank loans do not make young people dare opening their own business.

    That eventually will lead to less unemployment.

    *organizations providing facilities, equipment and administrative support.

  9. avatar

    Where is the point in encouraging youth entrepreneurship when the banks aren’t lending the bailout money we gave them? And as for suggestion that middle-aged people should be given priority because they have families well… young people have families too. Young families. Whereas middle-aged people have older children, who are potentially old enough to already be working.

  10. avatar
    eusebio manuel vestias pecurto

    A UE deve apostar na formação profissional para as classes juvenil e com o apoio das empresas europeias Porque a taxa de desenprego esta a subir na UE é com pessoas de meia- idade e não nos jovens Ou então que a legislação seja mais flexivel para que as pessoas tenham menos deficuldades encontrar trabalho eu mais uma vez os jovens da UE tem que ir para a formação

  11. avatar
    Iulian Alex

    To reduce unemployment in Europe should open labor market and liberalization of the labor movement throughout the European area. If IT professionals, transportation, medicine in countries like Romania, Bulgaria, why not work in Germany, France, Netherlands? Why not come without work workers working in Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary ? Also in Romania there are many foreigners ( from Germany, Austria, Holland, UK , Italy ) who have small businesses in agriculture and small industry but the Romanians may not work in other countries. Discrimination or fear for workers better prepared ?

  12. avatar
    Borislav Valkov

    Romania + Bulgaria = 20 million people so there is way for major labor movements(few million people can move to west Europe)! The only way how that can be prevented is to help the creation of competitive local business in Romania and Bulgaria. When Greece is in crisis, the whole EU runs for aid, but when the newcomers are in crisis they are on their own?

  13. avatar
    Sandra Martins

    Veja como mudar a cor do faceboook O meu esta Rosa.. Mude a #Cor da sua linha do tempo_faceboook$

  14. avatar
    Mirela Moldovan

    I believe that talking about youth unemployment it’s related also with insurances system.. finding solutions to employ young people means also finding solutions for paying pensions to the persons retired from service now and for the future!..

  15. avatar
    Θοδωρής ζτ

    Europian Union has to make the labour markets more flexible! Crisis, to be finished, needs to give opportunities to the markets to employ young people, and chance to young people who have new and “powerfull” ideas to attempt! These two need political changes and some (not much) money to be given by “smart” programs! Make a plan with what is profitable for Europian markets and subsuidize people that want to attempt and they are able! And then, let people work to give real results!!

    • avatar

      Doctor,I\’m kinda in a rush here, but I think what we\’re looking at is Bastiat\’s \”Things Seen And That Which Is Not Seen\”.We know we now have a hihegr than usual teenage unemployment rate. From which industry? Well, it\’s hard to tell what woulda happened without the minimum wage, the current goofiness going on in D.C., the looming healthcare debacle, etc. One other thing to throw into this mix. Many government contracts and many union contracts state that workers must be paid at least a specified multiple of the minimum wage. (Imagine going to a car repair place and DEMANDING that you pay far more than necessary. It\’s one of many reasons why govt spending is such a waste.) The number of adults who make minimum wage for any length of time is a very, very small % of the workforce. The number of union and govt contract workers is relatively large. Guess which group gets wage legislation done? P.S. – I still owe you a reply on my previous union monopoly post. I finessed it while drinking Leninade with Denny.

  16. avatar
    João Antunes

    You guys are talking about youth unemployment; what about the those who are above 40 and have academic degrees?
    My feeling is that I’m worried about studying and I’m affraid I won’t be able to use my skills in the future.
    I’d love to hear some comments about this, too
    Thank you

  17. avatar
    Θοδωρής ζτ

    For these people is difficult, too, but youth unemployment is much bigger and people that want to give their greatest years in production can’t do it! They stay with their parents. From a research i read that the graduated that received their degrees in years of high unempolyment were in worse situation than in good times for their whole working lives! Young people also start their lives without a house to live or something to own. They are Europe’s future and we have to care about our future!

  18. avatar
    Dan Andronescu

    Debating and nothing else… Din ciclul…discu?ii incolore, inodore ?i insipide pe LinkedIn !
    Genul ” Nu ca zic, dar vreau sa spun…”
    Chip-chat … on LinkedIn : How about that ?
    Stupid question : “IS YOUR RSUM WORKING FOR YOU?
    Proper answer : Is your “fat commission” as a result of the job applicants=jobless selling, working for you ?
    Actually the recruitment c-nies are nothing but short-circuiting the direct connections among the employers and the large mass of jobless applicants, as job searchers ! Before existing those “recruitment companies” (< 1989 !) , the Romanian unemployment with all consequences was very low level. That's why THE MAJORITY of houses, apartments and all the daily living necessary were built THAT TIME. Now, the unemployment is > 10% and still grows incessantly. Why ? Because “the labour hands & brains” are nothing but an ordinary merchandise, commodity to be sold or NOT in terms of some stupid and subjective “biometric” reasons/ features . Therefore, in this present case, some privileged gangs are getting rich, while the millions of hungry / starving people are fading with the “government consent” ! You can cheat the youngsters, but not me and people of my kind…
    No hiring at all for people older than 35 y.o. No hiring for people without any “political protection”, recommendations a.s.o. I’m sick & tired of this fraudulent regime ! Unfortunately, there are many proofs in this respect, proofs of life , I mean it !
    I would suddenly shut-off all real estate & recruitment companies ! Sorry ! That is neither a real economy, nor helpful for the needy citizens of a poor country !

  19. avatar


  20. avatar

    You cannot create jobs without vertical economic structures. Europe has followed the rest of the developed world into a globalization frenzy and is now paying the price.

    You want the management and the cash in a tax haven (outside the EU), resources/raw materials in the emerging world (outside the EU), manufacturing in the developing world (outside the EU). What on earth is left for the EU economies?

    Yes I know, leading technologies and services, but how many of the approx. 230m Europeans can be employed in these sectors. Don’t other countries/areas have the same to offer? How can you revitalize activity when you cannot perform monetary financing? When you are not re-distributing surplases?

    I don’t feel optimistic about the European future and I think most of Europeans are anyway. That is why the majority of the Europeans still bothering to debate Europe here come from the “newcomers”, the periphery of the EU or outside the EU anyway, where the “European dream” can still be sold with ease.

  21. avatar
    David Fuzzey

    stop unemployed continentals comminbg to the UK…we have more than enough unemployed fellow British Citizens needing jobs here….anh whjy should we destroy our Green Belt land to house them.

  22. avatar
    Miguel Verissimo

    There’s no employment without work!!! First EU must have a strategy for economy and production…. And that requires a strategic vision on development model, taking advantage of being the biggest market in the world!!! We are always on our knees concerning finance and capital markets, playing US music!!! Europe is strong enough to play is own toon!!!

  23. avatar
    Joffre Justino

    Parem de falar um liguarejar nico! Primeira exigncia para por fim a uma UE egosta, xenfoba e incompetente!
    Emprego? Com o neo liberalismo no comando ? Ridculo!

  24. avatar
    Florin Holban

    I can understand the direction our hi-tech society pushes, but maybe if the youth actually learned to DO SOMETHING except dreaming of highly payed office jobs things would be better. Ofcourse, it serves the young nothin to have a practical skill in an environment that consistently discourages it. Untill the “production of goods” will be considered the lowest class of jobs we will have people trying their best to avoid them. And someone please smack to reality the HR companies!!!

  25. avatar
    Dongo Alberto

    Isso so pode acontecer quando a frana e almanha deixarem de dicidir o futuro do resto da da europa!!

  26. avatar
    Lesley Christensen

    In my opinion we have a great number of tasks that need to be undertaken, such as ensuring each person has a home to live in, electricity and running water. There is no reason why employment should be limited to being only in Europe. I believe that all nations globally should fund that their youth help developing nations to gain these basic facilities and simultaneously, the young get jobs, get to learn each others cultures and get excellent working experience, network and on site knowledge. We can also simultaneously use the opportunity to implement schools and healthcare and not least bio diverse agriculture NOT GMO and irrigation.The local populations must be trained to be able to maintain these facilities and ultimately be able to continue the effort themselves. All these efforts will result in excellent trade opportunities and benefit all parts.

  27. avatar
    Jokera Jokerov

    Why should I care that every person on the other side of the continent has a home and not go on a vacation in Thailand instead and support their welfare through tourism?

  28. avatar
    Hasan Özdemir

    Because the tuorism is not different than a banking as a economy. ?f other economy branches is developed enoughly, the banking runs only for art markets.A value of Picasso painting might increase till a billion euros but people dies due to starving.

  29. avatar
    Jokera Jokerov

    Still I was in Thailand and on my way back stopped in Istanbul, marvelous city! Keep it safe from the filthy hands of the EU!

  30. avatar
    Hasan Özdemir

    Thanks, ?stanbul is a fascinating city really.?stanbulers are a lover to themselves city like Londoners or Newyorkers.Meanwhile we are a lover of Paris and Roma and Barcelona and London and Berlin also.

  31. avatar
    Hasan Özdemir

    You probably do not match London/Belfast or Madrid/Barcelona also. But they may match easily like the up others.

  32. avatar
    Joffre Justino

    O problema nao esta no desemprego juvenil mas sim no desemprego ser intergeracional no desemprego ser localizado no desemprego estar a ser acompanhado por falências em serie para que surjam os salários de miséria a “malga de arroz” chinesa” ou a “prato de funge” angolana!
    Esse problema só se resolve se a economia reassumir ser das e para as Pessoas e nao financista !
    Há que derrotar o neo liberalismo na política !

  33. avatar
    Kenyan Youth Board

    The best way to tackle youth unemployment is by encouraging entrepreneurship which will reduce the unemployment rate by creation of jobs. At Kenyan youth board we do offer industrial attachment and job opportunities to the youth by creating a database of available job opportunities in Kenya and all over the world. We also do provide to youth members effective entrepreneurship training courses and also do provide valuable information concerning trade and investment. Feel free to visit out website for more about the products and services that we offer

  34. avatar
    Simone Muffolini

    Try to ask the question he has one citizen, the 12 stars represent? I hope the answer right, otherwise I will have to teach. Possible? Many years of funding for the European development? Reviewing Community policies and the European identity deficit! Many people do not know what it’s like 12 star blue background, the most frequent answer is: are the twelve founding members.
    Passionate about European values, it means that you should know the meaning of the symbol stamped on the European flag?

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