The global youth labour force participation rate, at 47.4 per cent in 2013, remains more than 2 percentage points below the pre-crisis level. More young people, frustrated with their employment prospects, continue to drop out of the labour market.
According to most recent data, the EU youth unemployment rate has currently reached 23.4 per cent. According to the Italian Bureau of Statistics (ISTAT), in Italy, the unemployment rate of people aged 15-24 has worryingly risen up to 42.4 per cent. The ISTAT also points out the dramatic situation in Southern Italy, where, in regions like Sicily and Calabria, almost one out of two young people is unemployed. In addition, many other young people have lost their hope to find a job.
Young unemployed people and those discouraged belong to the so-called NEET, that is young people who are «not in education, employment or training». According to Eurostat, in 2011, 7.5 million young EU people aged 15-24, in addition to 6.5 million aged 25-29, were completely excluded from the labour market and from any training course.
A crowd of jobless youth. According to the ILO Global Employment Trends for Youth 2013, if no immediate and targeted action is taken, an entire generation is at risk of exclusion. In order to face this emergency, in April 2013, the European Council adopted the Youth Guarantee initiative; this well defined programme requires member States to rapidly carry out measures in order to provide young people under 25 with a good quality offer of employment, training, apprenticeship or work placement, within their fourth month of unemployment.
In order to guarantee the efficiency of such measures, the ILO and the European Commission are actively collaborating to support member States in the development of Youth Guarantee Plans, in particular during the monitoring phase and for the integration of the plans with other measures aimed at promoting youth employment.
The latest ILO cost estimates suggest that youth guarantees can be implemented at an annual cost of approximately 0.5 to 1.5 per cent of GDP. Azita Berar Awad, Director of the ILO Employment Policy Department said: «Even taking into account EU member States current fiscal difficulties, it's worth noting that, considering the high short- and long-term costs of youth unemployment and inactivity for individuals and the society, the benefits of youth guarantees can potentially outweigh the costs».
Rebecca Taylor, Vice President of the Youth Intergroup of the European Parliament stated that: «The youth guarantee is an essential new tool with which the EU can support youth employment. The Youth intergroup would like to stress the importance of all Member States implementing the youth guarantee as quickly as possible, while ensuring the quality of the opportunities it offers to young people. The youth guarantee cannot however stand alone and must be part of a comprehensive employment policy with a package of measures including training and support for young people moving into the world of work, as well as creating employment opportunities».
Anna Ascani, President of the Youth Intergroup of the Italian Parliament, said: «The solution of the European tragedy of youth unemployment could be the Schuman Declaration of our generation, as a founding act of the Europe of opportunities and growth. Youth Guarantee, in this sense, is a great instrument: not a magic wand, but an extraordinary signal that comes from European institutions. We—who have the honour and the responsibility to represent the lost generation (as newspapers usually define us)—must go beyond our political parties opinions in order to work together to monitor the actualization of the programme, to improve the promotion and to help the government to make it effectual. This is one of the most important aims of our Intergroup».
Italy, like the other EU countries which have adopted national Youth Guarantee Plans, shall not lose this opportunity. It is necessary to ensure that measures carried out be efficient and respond to the real needs both of youth and of the labour market. Therefore, further efforts are needed to monitor the application of the initiative and to evaluate its impact.
Even though the youth guarantees can reduce the negative effects of long-term unemployment and of youth dropping out of the labour market, however, long-term structural solutions to the youth employment crisis require a series of measures to support global demand, both at macroeconomic and microeconomic level, as recommended by the ILO Resolution unanimously adopted in 2012 by the representatives of the governments and of the social partners of 185 ILO member States.