Youth unemployment in the EU stood at 21% in 2015. But this figure masks huge differences between individual countries – with over half of young people struggling to find jobs in some Member States (such as Spain and Greece), and only one in ten unable to get into work in others (including Germany and Austria). We know that many of our readers are young people, and so plenty of you will have personal experience with the many frustrations of endlessly looking (and not finding) employment.

What do our readers think? We had a comment sent in from Petio, arguing that tackling youth unemployment should be a priority for Europe: “With youth unemployment growing, [we] have to give more chance and opportunities to young people.”

How would YOU help young graduates find jobs? We asked Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) from all sides of the political spectrum to stake out their positions on this question, and it’s up to YOU to vote for the policies you favour. See what the different MEPs have to say, then vote at the bottom of this debate for the one you most agree with! Take part in the vote below and tell us who you support in the European Parliament!

Radical Left
Fabio de Masi (Radical Left), Member of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs:

de masiSo, I think if we want to create jobs we need investment. And investment has decreased due to the austerity applied in Europe, so first of all we need a big public investment program that would also crowd in private investment, and we also need to oblige companies to provide adequate training for young people.

Philippe Lamberts (Group of the Greens), Co-Chair of the Group of the Greens / European Free Alliance:

philippe-lambertsWe need strategic investment projects. Until now, we have merely funded consumption and speculation on debt without investing. We need to make our infrastructure much greener, transition to more sustainable energy, invest in restoring the quality of our ecosystems, invest in social cohesion, invest in education, and invest in R&D. Investment in all of these areas would generate jobs.

That said, there’s no rule written in heaven that the quantity of human work hours needed for society to function properly is the number of people in the workforce multiplied by 40 hours per week. So, we need to think what is the work that is needed, and distribute it in an equitable way… We currently have about 20% of people with no jobs, 40-50% of people with indecent jobs, and a minority with decent jobs, sometimes with indecently high remuneration, such as in the banking sector.

Liberal Democrats
Sylvie Goulard (ALDE), Member of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs:

Centre Right
Michaela Šojdrová (EPP), Vice-Chair of the Committee on Culture and Education:

sojdrovaFirst of all, by strengthening the right skills and competences already in the education process and curricula. Member States must ensure career orientation services work well at all levels to assist young people. The EPP believe that more flexible labour market rules would help young people to find jobs, rather than rigid protectionism by labour laws.

Sander Loones (ECR), Vice-Chair of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs:


Janes Collins (EFD), Member of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs (NOTE: We contacted the EFD for comment but they did not reply in time for publication. The below is from a statement made by Jane Collins on behalf of her national party, UKIP):

jane-collinsUKIP will guarantee employers that they cannot be sued for discrimination if they decide to favour a young unemployed British person (under the age of 25) for a job ahead of a better qualified or more experienced foreign applicant. With youth unemployment still at more than three quarters of a million, there remains a jobs emergency for our young people. Employers who wish to back British workers and give local young people a chance on the first rung of the career ladder should not face the possible threat of legal action, as they presently do. UKIP will therefore make the pledge of “British jobs for British workers” plausible and meaningful in law.

Curious to learn more about Europe’s youth unemployment crisis? We’ve put together some facts and figures in the infographic below (click for a bigger image):

IMAGE CREDITS: CC / Flickr – Sinn Féin
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80 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar

    We need to help ALL ages find jobs!
    Young people, so they can build their new lives;
    Middle aged people, so they can continue to build their lives;
    Senior people, so they can continue to have constructive lives within their communities.
    We need to reinvent the concept of “enterprise incubators” so they spread their capabilities to ALL levels of human activity.

    • avatar

      All these age groups will build jobs for themselves and each other.

  2. avatar
    Paul X

    Simple, stop Universities from offering degree courses in subjects which clearly have no employment potential…. the fault also lies with career advisors who obviously convince students that a degree in basket weaving offers a good future

    For example, I’ve yet to meet an unemployed Engineering graduate and for anyone who says that engineering is a difficult subject then I’m afraid that is what getting a degree should be all about.
    It must be hard to be worth anything, you get from life what you put in and nobody should expect a free lunch just because they went to university, attended a few lectures and graduated with a degree in costume design for animals

    • avatar

      What ever happened to learning for knowledges sake. Education has become commercialized & a commodity = low wages , low paying jobs for the highest level of educational attainment. That is a free lunch for corporations, industrialists, & the capitalist neo liberal machine.

    • avatar
      Paul X

      There is nothing wrong in learning for the sake of knowledge…. but it should be done alongside useful qualifications that enable a person to do something productive with their life….not instead of

      And you are wrong about wages, the highest level of educational attainment can still command good wages, as long as it is in the correct subject…..students these days grab at any course just to get into university, then complain when they graduate that they cannot get a job. Well excuse the lack of sympathy but if you want to graduate and get a decent job you need to do a degee in a decent subject

  3. avatar
    Beate Dunn

    you should know how—–you have jeopardised our future and the future of our descendants with your irresponsible immigration policy–just look at Sweden, UK, France, Italy…..I hope that Farage will help British get out of the European chaos and also that Poland and other level-headed countries will make wise decisions about their future….

  4. avatar
    Miene Mathon

    Nous sommes aussi a la recherche de travail. En Europe, comme formateur.
    Cie Egg’s Echo
    Nous sommes restés jeunes !

  5. avatar
    Geoffrey Howard

    Workforce Management. What is the use having 1000 macroeconomic students when no one wants to bake bread, fix roads, build buildings, collect trash, etc, et al. There are a lot of jobs out there. There’s no excuse….

  6. avatar
    Yordan Vasilev

    The youth is need of length of service. The EU have to have program for payed training. After this the young people will have experience for finding a new job.

  7. avatar
    Vinko Rajic

    Simple, they could work as teachers ! Import 50 million refugees and they can teach them language .

  8. avatar
    rui freitas

    Jovem lutem nada está perdido , é difícil , mas a vitória tem outro sabor

  9. avatar
    Andrej Němec

    Reopen factories that went bust. Cut social benefits and put the money to run them while hiring those youngsters. Let’s bring back to Europe manufacturing especially IT technologies. Can’t we have a European SAMSUNG in Belgium?

  10. avatar
    Agla Ntouni

    be reopened again plants, animal, agricultural,
    technological, industrial, not to settle in third countries, be developed Jobs high level so as not to migrate our children and the scientific personnel!

  11. avatar
    Veronica Moretti

    Youth unemployement is one of the biggest challenges of nowadays. Mixed strategies thought and implemented at European level are fundamental : act on the education and training systems by providing people with the skills and competences to be successfull in the labor market of today, fill in the gap between school and work, make the labor market more flexible, by organising the working day according to the real working needs (not always the 8 hours working day addresses the working needs of all sectors), disseminate among young people the entrepreneurship culture…and why not, adopt a strategic public investment policy, by stimulating also private ones. The Youth Guarantee cannot run in the european countries with high level of unemployement without thinking and implementing integrated policies including those mentioned above.

  12. avatar
    Achilles Desalermos

    Allow non-paid trainee/junior positions all across Europe for graduates(non studying youths)
    In addition, incentives to companies to hire (free) youth employees with tax reductions or other money benefits.

  13. avatar
    Vicente Silva Tavares

    Youth unemployment? Let in more refugees. Youth unemployment? Increase the age of retirement. Youth unemployment? Let workers to work more hours. Youth unemployment? Lower the custom duties so the factories dislocate overseas. This is what our politicians are doing,

  14. avatar
    Jude De Froissard

    So…..Ask Merkel….didn’t she want 800.000 refugees because of lack of persons in Germany….by the way…don’t we have enough unemployed europeans in southern europe?why bring them from so far and with risk of future problems……

  15. avatar
    Gaia Sala

    As a young person looking for a job I can relate to this article. My solution was to agree to have a job below my qualification and continue to apply. The working atmosphere is great and my team kind. Being active and flexible is my solution. I have done an unpaid internship and think it is not a good solution. Your work should be remunerated, unless it is a voluntary activity. Have a nice evening!

  16. avatar
    Rui Duarte

    Youth unemployment is «the normal» situation in many neigbourhoods. Not counting some of the unemployed with statistic exercises does not solve the problem. Molenbeek and Clichy-sous-Bois are byproducts of persistent high youth unemployment. How long do You think a society survive with such high regular levels of unemployment?

  17. avatar
    Stathis Stathopoulos

    Capitalism is unable and unwilling to have full employment. This is the reality that young (and older) are faced with.

    • avatar

      Correct. And you only have to look at the EU employment goals of 75% full employment by 2020 to confirm what you just said. What are the other 25% supposed to do. But, one wonders, this being the case, current unemployment figures may just be cynically used by the EU to prove they are on target…

    • avatar

      Do you ever contribute anything meaningful to debates?
      What ever question that is presented on a range of diverse subjects your response is always the same line!

      Do you have any opinions or ideas that transcends your undeniable Islamophobia and utter dislike for anyone who does not share your pathological dislike for others?

      Now, can you offer anything to this debate that is thoughtful and intelligent?

  18. avatar
    Nigel Daff

    WHEN there are jobs out there then it is purely up to the ‘individual’ to be motivated and to find and apply for any suitable. HOWEVER – “if” there are far more jobless people chasing to few available jobs – THEN – it is a part of being a country government AND an EU Commission and Parliament in its mantra to work hard (excuse the pun) to create more jobs!

  19. avatar

    By easing the pressure on those already employed and thus increasing the number of people needed to do the work. And by lowering taxes in order to pay good wages.

  20. avatar
    Benny Santoro

    The policy makers must realise that unemployment can kill entire generations. The exaggerate focus on the long term combined with a shortsighted austerity policy can lead to an irreparable stagnation. Paraphrasing Nobel Prize winner Paul Krugman’s thought, short-term problems also damage long term perspectives on several channels. Firstly, the erosive effect of long-term unemployment: if workers who lost their job long ago consider themselves unemployable, there will be a long-term reduction of the country’s workforce and thus of its production capacity. Secondly, the decline in investments. Businesses are unlikely to spend large sums to improve their production capacity because they have disposed of old machineries without replacing them with new ones. Last but not least, the management of the economic crisis has wrecked the programs that are aimed at ensuring the future.For building another Europe is needed to reform the economic system and create a true community social system.

  21. avatar
    Higaara Nakamura

    Easy… Everyone should work less hours and earn the same, or even more. The profits of decades of technology development and industrial optimization of production should be distributed more evenly throughout the population instead of being hold by a few quadrilionaries. The unemployment has this purpose of lowering salaries making it even easier for the rich to get richer, everyone should know that.

  22. avatar

    There has to be a way to provide both: a) a specific type of education through most types of university schools in order to strenthen the self-employed young graduates ability and b) a subsidy that may vary, from few money for simply new professionists, to large sized for innovative but sustainable (=promising) professional ideas. In Greece there is a lack of both: the first does not exist and the second one is too much complicated.

  23. avatar
    Edgar Joycey

    Change the RU institutions before voting. The present parties have no power. Remember Mr Schaueble and ‘democracy can’t change what he wants’ no matter how destructive what he wants is for EU and its member states and people!

  24. avatar
    Sarah EsEs

    Ask Merkel! She welcomed refugees while there were many un employéd youth in Europe. Very strangly

  25. avatar
    Gerry Mavrie-Yanaki

    I have a € 400 billion plan for the European Union. When will European Financial Institutions start investing in my EU plan for Growth.

  26. avatar
    Jude De Froissard

    Instead of importing people from outside Europe. ..and creating future problems with people who will have difficulties adapting themselves. …why the hell don’t they use the unemployed within the E.U.? ??????

  27. avatar
    Maria Boura

    I believe what the greens say combined with the radical left would do the trick. We need both to reconsider work in the 21st century and how it should be used and distributed. With the advancement of technology, the increased use of robots for trivial jobs, the situation could get worse if we continue down the path of sheer capitalism where everything is done in the name of accumulating more and more money to fewer and fewer people instead of spending the benefits of technology and advancement to the whole population. We also need to rethink how and what we are measuring and move from measuring financial figures and GDP to happiness and real well being measures… Money, after all, has been invented to facilitate commercial interaction and there is nothing in nature that grows continually and for ever. We need to think, rethink and reflect on these issues not only as Europeans but as responsible human beings on this planet.

  28. avatar
    Gerry Mavrie-Yanaki

    I have a 400 billion euro economic plan for growth that will generate more that 3.2 trillion euros in global economic growth.

  29. avatar
    Enric Mestres Girbal

    I know it’s not “politically correct” and probably a bit “cynical” but, in the past, wars and illness use to bring the figures down.

  30. avatar
    Massimo Ortale

    Youth unemployment it’s one of the biggest problems togheter with the refugee crisis that Europe is facing today. In my view this problem doesn’t need to be strumentalized by any of the political parties but rather should be at the heart of the European policies regarding the future social susteanability of the European projects; because it cannot exist a European project if the young are left behind.

  31. avatar
    Otto Barten

    Interesting discussion, thanks for starting it. Of course it’s one of the biggest challenges for EU politicians to solve, and sadly one that the Euro partially created. Sad and a bit frightening also to see that major parties (EPP for example) have no substantial idea on how to solve this issue. I’d go for the greens’ solution, but none of them seems super convincing. Of course education needs to fit the labour market and good deeds can still be done in this respect, but the bigger picture seems to be that ten years ago, the education system was not a lot different and there was much less youth unemployment. The economic policies implemented to fight the crisis undoubtedly had their logic, but now the economists and politicians who worked so hard at implementing them need to solve their devastating side effects, instead of just assuming that relaxed labour laws will solve everything.

  32. avatar
    Marco Musazzi

    reforming the education system. we need to get to the job market faster (i.e. with shorter high school), with more technical skills (i.e. internships during school years!) and more international experience (international mobility will also help reducing inefficiencies in the market). This is what national states can do (and it’s a lot!). then, private firms should start thinking at their employees and not at ROE only

  33. avatar
    Vinko Rajic

    SIMPLE ! Build 50 solar panels factories , build EU hydrogen network . TESLA ! EU and all ex.EU member states (not including Germany, we should boycott Germany, we should only export to Germany just to find out how good German econoomy is going to do after that ) should invest in Tesla and build 20 factories in the ex.EU , those should manufacture 20 000 000 cars/Year by 2020 . Ex.EU members should make it illegal to sell fuel cars after 2025 in the ex.EU .

  34. avatar
    Faddi Zsolt

    Exploit and pay for their creativity! Why should they all “work” in an old-fashioned way? Let them think and pay them for that.

  35. avatar
    Boyar Dreams - school company

    Младежката безработица е функция от фактори. На първо място е образованието и квалификацията. Естествено е, ако младият човек няма знанията и уменията на конкретна професия, трудно да се реализира на пазара на труда. Елиминирането на този фактор или снижаването на неговото значение до оптималния минимум е – още в/чрез средното образование /15-17 години/ младите хора да притежават професия, която е търсена на пазара на труда. Професиите и специалностите, както средното образование, така и във висшето образование да отговарят на изискванията на работодателите. Косвено решение е програмите на ЕС, насочени към мобилност на млади хора, към образование и обучени да акцентират към професионалното образование и обучение. Друг фактор е освобождаването на работни места от лица, навършили пенсионна възраст. Косвен фактор – възрастта за пенсиониране. Нашето предложение е – през последната година на трудовия стаж, бъдещият пенсионер да бъде финансово стимулиран, ако обучи, ако предаде знанията и уменията си на млад човек. Много са факторите – кога, в каква възраст трябва да се избира професия, мобилни ли са предлаганите професии, стимулират ли се и как трансверсалните умения на младите хора, стимулират ли се и как предприемаческите идеи на младите хора. Ако сега не анализираме статистическите данни за безработицата сред младите хора и не се стремим да решим проблема, то след време /5-10 години/ ще сме в капана на безотговорността си.

  36. avatar
    Julia Hadjikyriacou

    Give everyone an unconditional guaranteed minimum income so a few generations of people retire early, some mums stay home with their kids cos they can which will free up jobs. This will also open up opportunities for new businesses when people are freer. More authors, Internet businesses, local businesses, new products. Also, once there is a GMI working hours could be cut in half, so the jobs double. Add to that a 3 day week and the jobs will double again. Poverty is man-made and only peoples ideas can solve it. Unemployment has a solution and the EU can solve that. Subsidise the people, tax corporations and mega-wealth.

  37. avatar
    Joao Antonio Camoes

    How many europeans companies have factories around the world? How many jobs do european countries create all around the world?

  38. avatar
    Michael Šimková

    Like it or not corporate laws in Europe seem geared toward large established corporations and against the emergence of start-ups or freelancers. This is certainly the case in Spain. With barriers to entry so high, entrepreneurs are dissuaded and most people seek employment at established companies which have already gotten over that barrier. The barriers to entry make starting a business more risky than normal by increasing the outlay in the form of fees, taxes and bureaucratic delays. Address this to encourage more new businesses, but just don’t tell Merkel. Such a policy is not compatible with austerity in the short term – you need to reduce fees and taxes on small and medium businesses and new businesses, which means you have to spend money to get it started.

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