Is Europe on course to lose a generation of young workers? Mario Draghi, President of the European Central Bank, warned recently that high unemployment risks becoming a permanent feature of the EU, and structurally high unemployment could “threaten the existence of the monetary union.”
There is little sign of convergence between countries, with unemployment rates varying significantly across the EU. Youth unemployment in the Eurozone is also twice as high (22.3%) as general unemployment. In some countries, including Greece, Spain, Italy and Croatia, almost half of all young people are jobless.
Debating Europe recently attended an event in Brussels held by our partner think-tank, Friends of Europe. The event brought together policymakers from across Europe to discuss solutions to the job crisis. We managed to catch up with some of the policymakers and put some questions and comments to them from our readers.
Our first comment was sent in by Javier, arguing that high unemployment is storing up huge structural problems for the future. Many young people in Europe today have never had a job. As they grow older, their CVs will look less and less attractive. In 10 or 15 years time, will we be facing a future where a significant portion of Europe’s population could end up permanently unemployable?
To get a response, we spoke to Roseanna Cunningham, Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Fair Work, Skills and Training. What would she say?
To get another perspective, we also put Javier’s comment to Ahmad Alhendawi, the UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth. Did he think that Europe was risking a ‘lost generation’ of unemployable young people?
Our next comment came from Julio, who argued that Europe should look to other regions (such as Asia) for examples of good policies on tackling youth unemployment. So, which countries does Ahmad Alhendawi think are success stories when it comes to youth unemployment?
Finally, we had a comment from Leo, arguing that we should “stop fighting the symptoms (youth unemployment) and start dealing with the fundamental problems (lack of competitiveness and over-regulation)”.
To get a response, we put Leo’s comment to Roseanna Cunningham. Scotland had some of the lowest unemployment figures in the EU, and the Scottish Government recently published figures showing record low youth unemployment in 2014. So, is cutting red tape the solution? what would Cunningham say?
Are some Europeans at risk of becoming permanently unemployable? Is cutting red tape and making the labour market more flexible the solution to high youth unemployment? Or should policymakers focus on encouraging apprenticeships and providing skills training for young people? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below, and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!