MEP for the North West, Jim Higgins, has welcomed continuing progress by the EU in addressing youth unemployment under its Europe 2020 strategy commitments, but says citizens want to see real results.
Mr Higgins was speaking as a €2 million employment research initiative got underway. The EU programme on employment and social solidarity (PROGRESS ) is currently assessing examples of good practice across Member States in relation to training, employment and the youth labour market. The study will aid the implementation of future policy.
“The review will also focus on the flagship initiative Youth on the Move which was launched to facilitate the first transition for youth from education to the labour market. The Irish Government's National Internship programme is one such example of initiatives directed at youth unemployment.
“In November last year, unemployment among young people reached 21 per cent across the EU overall. Youth unemployment stands at less than 10 per cent in only three countries — Germany, the Netherlands and Austria. Elsewhere it is dramatic: in the Baltic States, Ireland, Greece and Slovakia, unemployment among young people stands at 30 per cent or above and in Spain, it is more than 40 per cent,” Mr Higgins continued.
“Earlier this year, I questioned the EU Commissioner for Employment, László Andor, on what action was being taken on this matter. Mr Andor cited objectives under the Europe 2020 strategy and said Member States need to reform education and training in their countries in order to improve employment opportunities.
“While I welcome the fact that the EU is progressing its plans to tackle unemployment, real tangible results are what Member States like Ireland need. Most of our young people wish to work and live at home but, due to a lack of opportunity, are forced to leave for the jobs market in Canada or Australia.”