Youth Unemployment in Europe

On Thursday, 14th September 2017, the European Media Platform – Euractiv held a conference on Youth Unemployment, where the findings of the European Community funded project STYLE and the related book were presented. The academics reflected on and highlighted the results of their recent research on the causes of youth unemployment. WYAE Interns attending the conference would like to point out some of the main ideas, which relate to the World Youth Alliance’s values.

Family matters

In this chapter, the book holds that family has a vital role in youth employment. Among the findings is that young people are highly influenced by their family values, aspirations and expectations, which are reflected in their performance in the labour market; that the success or failure in the early years of adulthood is the outcome of a number of interactions, among which are family backgrounds and educational attainment. In addition, the book stresses the fact that parents play key roles in young people’s perception and adoption of values, in their attitudes and life chances. The research shows that children tend to adopt similar attitudes towards trust and risk when looking for a job, as those held by their parents. As a result, children with jobless parents are more likely to become inactive and therefore unemployed. They particularly highlight the influence of the mother.

World Youth Alliance identifies with these statements. We defend the family as we believe it is the pillar of our societies and the place where children can best learn how to socialize and treat the other by looking up to their parents. It is undeniable that family plays a strong and important role in the life and formation of a person by preparing him or her for the future entry in the labour market. The family has the great responsibility of preparing the youth for employment. As it appears in the WYA Declaration on Family and Economic Development: “Strong healthy families are needed to support an optimal and holistic child and youth development, which in turn contributes to economic development.”

Migration and mobility

Part of the discussion also focused on youth unemployment rates related to migration. The analysis reported in the book looked at intra-European migration flows from Southern and Eastern parts of Europe to the rest of it. The main issue that has been identified is that many of the young people migrating from Southern and Eastern Europe are often overqualified for the job they find, which is often a low-quality one, something that could influence their job-search when they go back to their native country. Vasiliki Kokkori, a Greek member of Commissioner Thyssen’s Cabinet from the EU Commission, said that the real issue to address is the transition from entry jobs to high-level ones because often young people and migrants remain trapped in the former. She also recalled the work that the Youth Guarantee, a number of plans by the European Union to address youth unemployment, is doing. An auditor advanced a critique to the latter for not being prompt in addressing such an issue, something to which Kokkori responded listing some of the achievements that the Youth Guarantee has achieved up until today, such as the fact that since 2013, it has made a difference in the life of around 9 million young people by supporting important reforms in many countries’ educational system.

It is true, though, that when observing the trends of migrant workers a gender gap is clearly identifiable, as the book reports. Male migrants are much more likely to find a job and to work longer hours than their female counterparts. This is even more common among non-EU migrants, where traditional gender norms are taken into account and applied. The writers call for integration and non-discriminatory measures in hiring processes, such as for instance anonymous jobs application to avoid gender and ethnicity based discriminatory decisions. The problem highlighted in the book is that young male migrants are more likely to participate in education than female migrants, whose NEET condition is becoming a critical issue. Female’s situation, in general, is worse than males’, as the study conducted by the writers shows that young women, when employed, earn 25% less than young males in all countries, the same figure that unemployment rate for migrants in general accounts for.

In conclusion, the panel advocated for a deeper awareness on the part of the Governments about gender diversities and migrants’ differences in educational backgrounds and systems, which are often not recognized in the country they decide to go to. In an era of constant internal and international migration, WYA believes that the youth are capable of building and rebuilding environments where holistic growth, solidarity, and sustainable development can occur for themselves and for others.

WYA Europe has opened applications for the 6th Emerging Leaders Conference (ELC) happening this November 26 to 29, 2017 in Brussels, Belgium. This year’s conference theme is ‘MIGRATION AND DEVELOPMENT: Human Dignity in the refugee crisis’. While putting the focus on innovative solutions and ideas that respond to the refugee crisis or displacements within Europe, the conference aims to provide Europe youth with accurate information on the status of the migrant movement, identify and examine emerging challenges and promote person-centered policies as well as solidarity among young people.

The conference registration has now begun and you can find the application HERE. Be sure to register early as some of the sessions and events related to the conference have limited capacity. Please feel free to share this information with those who might be interested and let us know if you have any questions.

Written by Barbara Pernice (Italy) and Ana Isabel Quineche (Spain), interns at the WYA Europe office.