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EU's youth job scheme criticised on money and targets

EU Observer, 24 March 2015 - The flagship European programme to get back young people to work is set to cost more than planned while it is not clear how many jobs it will result in, the EU's financial watchdog said Tuesday (24 March).

In a report on the youth guarantee programme - launched in June 2013 to help under-25s find a job, training or apprenticeship - the EU court of auditors warned that "there is a risk that total funding may not be adequate".

Some 7.5 million people in Europe are considered as "not in education, employment or training. Youth unemployment rates are at 50 percent in some countries, such as Greece.

These figures make the youth guarantee a highly sensitive political issue.

The EU commission estimated the total funding of the programme by the EU and member states at €16.7 billion for the period 2014-2020.

But according to the International labour organisation, quoted by the EU auditors, the cost could be considerably higher - as much as €21 billion a year.

The extra cost could be due to measures taken by member states to fight youth unemployement that were not taken into account when the guarantee was launched.

Such measures include structural reforms in education, training and job-seeking in order to improve young people’s chances on the job market.

The court of auditor notes that of nine of the 28 member states have provided no information so far on what measures they will take and at what cost.

Those who did provided only partial information, making it more difficult to assess the need for money.

The court points out that the commission did not carry out an impact assessment of the youth guarantee, providing "insufficient information on the potential cost" of the plan.

It asks member states to "provide a clear and complete overview of the cost of all planned measures […] in order that the commission can assess the overall funding needs."

In reply to the report, the commission said that EU extra money will come on top of the planned €16.7 billion.

"Eleven billion euro will be invested in modernising labour market systems and 27 billion euro are expected to be invested in education systems," it wrote in a statement.

The court also said the commission should more precisely define the requirements for proper job offers, traineeships and apprenticeships.

When they launched the youth guarantee, the commission and member states said they wanted to provide "good-quality" jobs and training to young people.

But in the absence of a precise definition, it is impossible to estimate how many jobs have been really created through the plan, as many find only precarious or low-qualified jobs.

The commission should also "put in place a comprehensive monitoring system for the youth guarantee scheme, covering both structural reforms and measures targeting individuals" to ensure a better control of the use of money.

The commission, for its part, notes that the "responsibility for implementation" lies with member states

Despite the auditors’ criticism, "the validity of the youth guarantee is absolutely not called into question," Elisabeth Morin-Chartier, a French center-right MEP from the committee on employment and social affairs, told EUobserver.

"The court is right to ask member states to invest more in the implementation of the plan because they are not doing enough. They have to move themselves," she said.

"The court is also right to insist on the quality of what is offered to young people. We should not be mistaken. The youth guarantee is not made to create immediate or short-term jobs. It is made to create the missing link between training and work and give young people long term professional abilities," Morin-Chartier added.

Source: https://euobserver.com/social/128130

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