FES: The European Union tackling youth unemployment in times of crisis
By Paz Martín Martín: Since the end of the 1990s, the European institutions have launched initiatives to tackle youth unemployment within the framework of the European Employment Strategy and the Open Method of Coordination. These forms of intervention are crucial in creating common perceptions and approaches to the problem of youth unemployment in Europe and to generating a »common sense« and awareness of it.
In the approach pursued so far, most of the weight of intervention is on young people (their educational, technical and personal skills) and not on global regulation of their social and economic conditions and the labour market as a whole. This orientation is expressed in the concept of »employability«.
The programme »Youth on the Move« is a broader and more detailed approach to youth unemployment in Europe. Nevertheless, the innovations mainly consist of an intensification of the orientations that guided European initiatives in the previous decade. The new key expressions are »mobility« and »unleashing young people’s potential«.
The European institutions should reformulate the definition of the problem in order to deal with youth unemployment in a more fair and balanced way, avoiding looking at young workers as »lower quality« workers. Of course, these changes can be implemented only by reinforcing the role of associations and other social agents (trade unions) who provide an alternative voice.
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