Youth unemployment is one of the most fundamental problems in the European Union and its Member States, reaching an alarmingly high 18.2% across the EU28. This figure shows that youth are proportionately harder hit by unemployment compared to other groups of workers. In September 2016, 4.125 million young persons under the age of 25 were unemployed. Compared with September 2015, youth unemployment has now come down by 425,000 in the EU28 and 243,000 in the euro zone, but it still remains far too high.
However, job opportunities and conditions for young people differ a lot throughout Europe. The rate differs from 6.8% unemployed in the North to 42.6% in South and South-Eastern Europe. Those affected are harmed not simply by lack of access to the labour market, they then suffer from a lack of income and a weak social position, and reduced chances to establish themselves in their own housing and create a family. In those Europeans countries that are unable to create jobs for their youth, a lot of young people use the EU’s right to mobility to find a job and often a new life in another EU Member State. Young people leaving their country of origin leave their home country with a tougher demographic challenge and a ‘brain drain’.
The Erasmus+ project ‘WOW’ (World of Work) is a project where informal learning and peer-to-peer learning empowers young individuals to engage in social and democratic processes that enhance their self-esteem and hence their employability. It builds on the methodology of peer learning on topics that the young target groups may not be particularly excited by, such as labour regulations at national and EU level, rights and duties in the labour market, the need to tackle long term unemployment as well as NEETs (young people who are “neither in employment, education or training”), and young people’s own responsibilities in the process.
To address the problems the project highlighted, the World of Work felt the level of key competencies and skills in the following target groups need to be increased:
The target groups involved youth activists from Denmark, Serbia, Italy and Ireland and the work was carried out by FIC Denmark, the Ideas Institute Ireland, Initiative for Development Cooperation (IDC Serbia) and CGIL Filcamps Italy, and supported by SOLIDAR Foundation.
The outcomes expressed in the report will be presented next week on Wednesday 7 December in the European Parliament in Brussels during the final WOW Conference on ‘Perspectives for a decent future for today’s youth’. You can read the full report here.