Will the Pandemic Breed a “Generation of Isolation”
The pandemic could lead to a “generation of isolation” whose job prospects are severely affected. In its 2020 summer forecast, the European Commission said it expected an 8.3% economic downturn for 2020, the deepest recession in EU history. In order to reduce the impact on young people, the Commission is proposing a package of measures for youth employment.
According to the International Labour Organisation, the pandemic has a "devastating and disproportionate" impact on youth employment. The organisation's figures show that young people face serious difficulties in continuing their studies, changing jobs or entering the labour market.
Before the pandemic, the youth unemployment rate (of people aged up to 24) was 14.9%, a significant decrease from the peak of 24.4% in 2013. In August 2020, the ratio was 17.6% and it was expected to continue to grow.
The Youth Employment Package of the European Commission has four main elements: strengthening the Youth Guarantee, ensuring adequate education and training, new impetus for vocational training programmes, additional youth employment measures.
The Youth Guarantee was introduced in 2013. It aims to ensure that every person under the age of 25 receives an offer of a quality job, a continuation of the training or an internship within four months of being out of work or completing an educational degree. The Commission has proposed to strengthen this commitment. The program will cover people under the age of 29; in addition, special emphasis will be placed on vulnerable groups such as people from minorities and people with disabilities. The needs of companies are also taken into account, providing the skills needed for the transition to a green and digital economy and short preparatory courses.
On 8 October, the European Parliament adopted a resolution welcoming the Commission's proposal for the budget, but stated that more funds are needed for the Youth Guarantee in the next financial period (2021-2027). MEPs are disappointed with the cuts in youth employment money agreed between EU leaders at their July meeting.
In addition, the Parliament is calling for an end to unpaid internships in the EU. It also supported an increase in the Youth Employment Initiative budget to 145 million euro for 2020.