Youth Unemployment: Situation, Opportunity, Solution

The days are getting shorter, the end of the year is approaching and here, at Citizens of Europe, we’re reflecting on the projects and events of 2013 through the eyes of those who participated in them.

Between 27th May and 2nd June, we organised the seminar “Beyond the Crisis II: Media, mobility and youth employability in the wake of the European financial crisis” bringing together young people from Portugal, Hungary, Greece and Germany to discuss the impact of the EU financial crisis on youth.

We invited Tatia Samkharadze to share her opinion on the topics raised during the seminar with us:

“Efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction” * with these words I began my motivation letter for the Beyond the Crisis II seminar. Frankly speaking, at first I was sceptical about my interest towards this event and even more, about the possible benefits I could gain from participating in it. Luckily, I opted to try for it and thanks to the topics which were discussed during the seminar, I can now say, that it helped me to look at certain issues from different perspectives.

The discussion about youth employability still keeps my attention and not only mine. The global rise in youth unemployment is widely discussed in the media on a continual basis. Whether they call youngsters “Generation Jobless” (Economist on April 27th-May 3rd 2013) or “Generation at Risk” (United Nations’ labour office) the reality is very painful for young people. The global unemployment rate increased from 12.4 to 12.6 per cent this year.

A temporary or part-time job has become the only option for many young people in the world. In some European countries the fact that the younger generation has less favourable employment prospects than adults are the result of inadequate qualifications, labour market rigidities or just skill-mismatch. Even the youngest with vocational training have problems finding jobs because of their lack of employment experience and contact with the working world.

Unemployment, whether it is structural, cyclical or frictional is a real threat for youth today. Economists tend to discuss mainly material losses associated with youth unemployment, such as decline in earnings, decrease in total output, foregone tax revenues; however, there are other issues that deserve equal attention from policymakers; for example, non-material damages, like fear of being stuck in unemployment, health deterioration, inclination to juvenile delinquency and so on. Moreover, people longing for jobs might be discouraged at some point and gradually go out of the labour market.

Youth unemployment is not only a European, but a global issue

Youth unemployment is not only a European, but a global issue, with changing levels and severity across countries. Young people have potential and they are the future of society- the longer unemployment lasts the more costly it will be in terms of time and effort for everyone. The causes and remedies for this phenomenon vary by country. For example, the European Commission has launched the so called “Youth opportunity/Employment Initiatives” in order to integrate youth into the labour market, specifically for people not in education, employment or training. The goal is to supply funds for apprenticeship and entrepreneurial schemes, help with company placements and provide advice to young people with business ideas.

Last but not least, European policies which include entrepreneurship training, career guidance or job search assistance programs are a step forward to lessen unemployment; however, it is the young who must be proactive and determined to find jobs. Self-motivation and perseverance increase the employment prospects and effectiveness of the proposed support from government. As the old saying goes, this can be easier said than done in the real world.

*John F. Kennedy

About the author:

Tatia Samkharadze is a recent graduate who completed her master’s degree in Economics at the University of Mannheim, Germany and participated in the Beyond the Crisis II seminar between 27th May and 2nd June, 2013