A few years ago in Spain, the generation of young people entering the workplace was named “mileuristas.” Since then, all over Europe, youth have had to move between temporary contracts and earn no more than a thousand euros a month. The last decisions taken by the European Council on June 28 might make us think that the young Europeans will be condemned to be “mileuristas” in all aspects of their lives, even to escape from unemployment.
On June 28, the European Council agreed on “a comprehensive approach to combat youth unemployment, building on the following concrete measures: speeding up and frontloading of the Youth Employment Initiative; speeding up implementation of the Youth Guarantee; increased youth mobility and involvement of the social partners”. These “concrete measures” are still to be defined and in words of the Council, “all the necessary preparations will be made for the Youth Employment Initiative (YEI) to be fully operational by January 2014.”
The main conclusion is that all young people aged 15-24 not in employment, education or training (called NEETs) should receive a good-quality offer of employment, continued education, an apprenticeship or traineeship within a period of four months of becoming unemployed or leaving formal education.
So how do you make it happen? And how do you make it happen now?
Youth employment is, above all, about big numbers: a big number of unemployed (estimates range from 5 to 7 million) and a big number of euros (according to the Council, a disbursement of 6 billion euros should take place during the first two years of the next Multiannual Financial Framework).
In fact numbers are so big that they become confusing. When the Council was over, we were told that the funding for the initiative will be scaled up from 6 billion to 8 billion euros. Some experts even understood wrongly this commitment as an annual one. This is the case of Xavier Vidal Folch, in an article published in El País explaining that 6 billion (no mention was made of the 8 billion) of yearly fresh money will be made available from 2014 on, and will be concentrated in the first two of the seven years of the multi-annual pack, and increase thanks to the flexibility between budget items and between exercises agreed upon at the start. The Council’s statement is so complex that interpretations end up in confusion.
The numbers are big, but no so big. 6 billion – maybe 8 – will be mobilised over 2 years starting next year. 6 billion euros for 6 million youth unemployed represents 1000 euros per youth. This should be the cost to end the present nightmare. Is it realistic? Finding a solution for youth unemployment could cost as much as 1000 euros per youth? The mileuristas were once part of the problem; they seem to be now the solution. And the question remains: how do you make it happen?
It should be noted that there is something missing from all of the decisions taken on this topic in the last few days. None of them have mentioned the “real actors”: youth looking for the jobs they want, and companies offering the positions they need to fill.
It is essential to keep in mind that nothing will be achieved without youth themselves. Young people aren’t just asking for a job at any cost and in any place – they want to be part of a solution, and their voices must be heard and taken into account. The problem is that there is no such place to listen to young Europeans… Except maybe for those who can visit the WorldSkills Leipzig event - an interesting place to see how young apprentices from all around the world are claiming their right to be recognised as skilled workers.
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