Youth unemployment and ability to move around Europe

Table 1: Unemployment rates by age and gender, 2011 (%)

Eurostat estimates that 24.667 million men and women in the EU-27, of whom 17.405 million were in the euro area (EA-17), were unemployed in April 2012. Compared with March 2012, the number of persons unemployed increased by 102 000 in the EU-27 and by 110 000 in the euro area. Compared with April 2011, unemployment increased by 1 932 000 in the EU-27 and by 1 797 000 in the euro area.

Helping young people fulfil their potential

Youth in Europe

Youth unemployment rates are generally much higher than unemployment ratesfor all ages. High youth unemployment rates do reflect the difficulties faced by young people in finding jobs. However, this does not necessarily mean that the group of unemployed persons aged between 15 and 24 is large because many young people are studying full-time and are therefore neither working nor looking for a job (so they are not part of the labour force which is used as the denominator for calculating the unemployment rate). For this reason, youth unemployment ratios are calculated as well, according to a somewhat different concept: the unemployment ratio calculates the share of unemployed for the whole population. Table 2 shows that youth unemployment ratios in the EU are much lower than youth unemployment rates; they have however also risen since 2008 due to the effects of the recent crisis on the labour market.

Table 2: Youth unemployment figures, 2008-2011Q4 (%)

Figure 3: Youth unemployment rates, EU-27 and EA-17, seasonally adjusted, January 2000 – April 2012

The youth unemployment rate in the EU-27 was around twice as high as the rate for the total population throughout the last decade. The EU-27 youth unemployment rate was systematically higher than in the euro area between 2000 and early 2008; since this date, these two rates were very close (see also Figure 3), until mid 2010, when the EU-27 youth unemployment rate started to increase more strongly than that of the EA-17. While youth unemployment thus increased in both areas during the crisis, the increase has been more relevant for the EU-27, despite the lower overall unemployment rate in that area.

A recently published Eurobarometer flash survey on youth mobility found that about 53 % of young Europeans are willing or keen to work in another European country.

At first sight this figure is good news for European mobility because at the moment only 3 % of the EU population lives outside their native country.

However, a lack of money seems to be a significant barrier to youth mobility. Some 33 % of those who would like to experience life abroad said they could not make the move because they did not have the funds. One of the problems may also be housing. In case more furnitured flats or houses could be rented it would make the move easier, knowing that there are more possibilities to store for a while the own furniture. (Movers have namely become to expensive for many.)

It is strange, that now with all the possibilities of travel and student exchange programs like Erasmus (Study periods and internships in Europe), Erasmus Mundus (postgraduate studies worldwide), Tempus (Opportunities to modernise teaching methods in neighbouring countries) and Joint study programmes (Co-operation with industrialised countries) that only 1 in 7 young Europeans has been abroad for education or training. Every year the European Union supports more than 400,000 young people to work, train and study abroad. It also offers opportunities to get some workexperiences in the Non-profit sector, unpaid voluntary activities abroad (Volunteers) while Students, Graduates can find exchanges with EU neighbours and partner countries and Youth workers can share good practice, training, co-operation.

Youth for Europe is geared towards the specific needs and expectations of young people. The aim is to promote a sense of ‘Europeanness’ among young people from every strata of society and encourage them to participate in the democratic process.

This Action supports three main types of activities: Youth Exchanges, Youth Initiatives and Youth Democracy Projects. The detailed criteria to submit applications are specified in the Youth in Action Programme Guide. Further information and support can also be obtained by contacting your National Agency. For youth initiatives and democracy projects, the SALTO Participation Resource Centre can also provide specific advice and support (for project ideas, partner-finding, etc).

Two-thirds who had tasted life outside their own country said that they had to rely on private funding for their trip.

These statistics represent a problem for young Europeans because studying abroad offers a great opportunity to gain new skills and life experiences – factors which are known to improve employability.

As Europe needs more highly-skilled and knowledgeable young people to keep the economy competitive and to compensate for the ageing population, the obstacles to mobility are indeed a problem.

Youth on the Move

The European Commission and the Member States have come together to develop a package of measures designed to help young Europeans get jobs – and to encourage greater mobility.

Youth on the Move which spreads the slogan “Move to achieve,” has been launched as part of the EU’s Europe 2020 strategy for economic growth. The initiative acts as a toolbox containing various measures to help young people achieve their ambitions.

Young people really do need some extra help right now bearing in mind Europe’s high levels of youth unemployment. The difficulties they have in finding work are linked in no small measure to a lack of qualifications and experience.

That is why Youth on the Move is working to increase young people’s qualifications and job prospects by raising the quality of their education and training opportunities.

Through the initiative, all young people in Europe should be given the chance to learn and get training abroad. Other actions include helping universities to improve the quality of courses they offer. Greater emphasis on providing work placements should also help young people understand and secure employment.

Meanwhile, Youth@Work, is building contacts between young people and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Launched in April 2011, this action aims to encourage smaller businesses to look seriously at the potential of young people as employees. In turn, it should help young people find work with SMEs, which in Europe provide two out of three private sector jobs.

Entrepreneurship and self-employment are also being promoted through Youth on the Move. For example, the Commission’s new European Progress Microfinance Facility is being used to support budding young entrepreneurs.

The initiative also comes with a ‘youth guarantee’, which aims to ensure that all young people are in a job, training or work experience within four months of leaving school.

They made the move!


Unemployment (Photo credit: born1945)

The Youth on the Move website features a number of inspiring personal stories about young people getting a taste of life, work and study abroad. Estonian Alar Albrecht went to Italy to train as a chef, with support from the EU’s Leonardo da Vinci programme for vocational educational and training. Alar says he learnt so much on his work placement that he will be able to open his own restaurant.

Meanwhile, Marie-Anne Helon from Belgium worked in Slovenia with help from the Discovering European Social Services scheme. She enjoyed comparing and contrasting ways of working, and has taken some good ideas back home which she can share with others.


Dutch version / Nederlandse versie: Jeugdwerkloosheid en vermogen om te verhuizen in Europa


  • France – Lessons on Youth Unemployment and Youth Employment Policy (
    The last crisis has merely amplified what is an increasingly problematic structural issue in France: Youth unemployment. In the last 30 years, the youth unemployment rate has never dropped below 15% and has regularly exceeded 20%. Yet, integrating young people into the labour market has been an ongoing public policy objective since the end of the 1970s. In a paper to be presented in autumn I examine the causes of youth unemployment in France, taking into account the lessons from the last 40 years of public policy.
  • Euro area unemployment hits record high (
    Compared with a year ago, the unemployment rate fell in eight Member States and increased in nineteen. The largest falls were observed in Lithuania (17.5% to 14.3% between the fourth quarters of 2010 and 2011), Latvia (17.1% to 14.6% between the fourth quarters of 2010 and 2011) and Estonia (13.9% to 11.7% between the fourth quarters of 2010 and 2011). The highest increases were registered in Greece (14.7% to 21.7% between January 2011 and January 2012), Spain (20.8% to 24.1%) and Cyprus (6.9% to 10.0%).
  • Global youth unemployment rate climbs (
    The jobless rate among people aged 15 to 24 is forecast to rise from 12.6% in 2011 to 12.7% this year and remain there through 2016, the Geneva-based ILO said in a report published Tuesday.
    In North Africa, youth unemployment rose to 27.9% in 2011 from 23.1% in 2010 as a result of the Arab Spring, the ILO said.
  • Youth unemployment stuck at GFC levels (
    More than a quarter (27.9 percent) of youths were unemployed in North Africa last year following the Arab spring uprisings, an increase of five percentage points on 2010.

    The Middle East figure stood at 26.5 per cent, while in central and south-eastern Europe it dropped slightly to 17.6 per cent in 2011, and Latin America and the Caribbean also saw a small decrease to 14.3 per cent.

    In Sub-Saharan Africa, the rate stood at 11.5 per cent, compared wit 13.5 per cent in south-east Asia and the Pacific.

    “Even in East Asia, perhaps the most economically dynamic region, the unemployment rate was 2.8 times higher for young people than for adults,” said the report.


  • Youth unemployment to stay at ‘crisis peak’ for years: ILO (
    “The youth unemployment crisis can be beaten but only if job creation for young people becomes a key priority in policy making and private sector investment picks up significantly,” said José Manuel Salazar-Xirinachs, executive director of the ILO employment sector.
    Nova Scotia’s jobless rate for young people is 19.6 per cent – the highest in a decade. Ontario’s rate is 16.4 per cent. By contrast, Alberta has the lowest youth jobless rate in the country, at 8.8 per cent – a contrast that will no doubt continue to lure young people into the province.

    • Jobs market strengthens, but who’s losing? Your kids
    •  Euro zone exit might be best of bad options for Greece
    •  Spanish youth urged to seek work abroad


  • Long term youth unemployment up 874% in 12yrs (
    TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said:

    Our young people are already facing a toxic combination of increasing unemployment, high tuition fees and inadequate government support for those people out of work. Now we discover they are at a hugely increased risk of being long-term unemployed and are losing out in the wage stakes as well.


  • Wage subsidies scheme moved forward (
    Wage subsidies for firms taking on young workers are to be
    brought forward in areas with the highest levels of long-term youth

    Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg announced that instead of coming in at nine months, the subsidy of £2,275 per person will start at six months.

    The subsidy, equivalent to half the minimum wage, is part of the Government’s £1 billion Youth Contract launched last autumn.

About Marcus Ampe

Retired dancer, choreographer, choreologist Founder of the Dance impresario office and archive: Danscontact-Dansarchief plus the Association for Bible scholars, the Lifestyle magazines "Stepping Toes" and "From Guestwriters" and creator of the site "Messiah for all". - Gepensioneerd danser, choreograaf, choreoloog. Stichter van Danscontact-Dansarchief plus van de Vereniging voor Bijbelvorsers, de Lifestyle magazines "Stepping Toes" en "From Guestwriters" en maker van de site "Messiah for all".
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1 Response to Youth unemployment and ability to move around Europe

  1. Pingback: Inequality, Injustice, Sustainability and the Free World Charter | Marcus' s Space

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