European Youth Forum warns of a Peter Pan generation as a result of financial crisis and response to it

Rome, 14th November 2014 // The policy responses to the economic crisis which began in 2008 have hit youth hardest, according to a new publication launched by the European Youth Forum today at a high-level event on youth employment in Rome.

The publication “Youth in the Crisis: What Went Wrong?”, which examines in depth the consequences of the financial crisis on young people, finds that the policy answers to the financial crisis negatively affected society as a whole, but young people in particular.

In its publication, the Youth Forum highlights the fact that employment security for young people has significantly decreased, youth has seen cuts to their minimum wage and meanwhile education budgets have been slashed. It concludes that the  overarching response has been uncoordinated and ineffective with measures which have, overall, disproportionally and negatively affected young people. The Youth Forum recommends that European governments and the EU must move away from only “supply-side” measures to deal with youth unemployment and examine more closely its long-term drivers.

The Youth Forum concludes that in Europe young people’s transition into adulthood has, as a result of the financial crisis, been delayed. Young people are now leaving home later and becoming parents later. The publication makes a raft of recommendations including that the impact of the crisis on young people can only be effectively addressed with deep structural and institutional changes and policies dedicated to the creation of quality jobs. These policies should be part of a coherent macroeconomic environment aiming for inclusive and sustainable growth.

Peter Matjašič, President of the European Youth Forum, comments:

“Six years on since the onset of the economic crisis it is clear – with 14.6 million young people not in education employment or training across the EU – that the inadequate response from European and national leaders has made life worse for young people. European society as a whole has become unfairer with inequality rife and unemployment still at staggering levels. It is young people, however, whose lives have been particularly badly impacted; with their transition into adulthood severly hampered.

“It is now clear that we need better coordination of ambitious macroeconomic policies at the EU level and a sound budget  to stimulate job creation in order to avoid a generation of young people with no jobs, no security and no ability to progress into adult life. Europe must act now to avoid creating a “jilted” generation trapped in insecurity with no prospects!”

The publication was launched at a high-level event on youth employment (12-14 November, in Rome) – “one year after – building a sustainable future“, hosted by the Youth Forum along with the Italian National Youth Council as a follow up to the event held in Paris in November 2013. High-level speakers at the event – which is under the patronage of the Italian Presidency – including policy makers, politicians and economists, have, along with youth delegates, produced a set of recommendations on youth employment for the new European Commission, the European Parliament and EU Member States. These recommendations, covering both labour market and macroeconomic policies, include:

·       A call for deep structural and institutional changes and package of coherent policies to encourage the creation of quality jobs.

·       Public investment in infrastructure and social protection, as well as investments in specific and innovative sectors, such as in the green economy and in the ICT industry.

·       Internships must be of good quality and help young people in the transition from education to work, rather than replacing the creation of new jobs.

·       This transition should be helped by early interventions, such as career guidance, which should continue in the longer-term.

·       “21st century” skills, including entrepreneurship and skills gained through informal and non-formal learning should be seen as a key way to get young people into work.

·       Involving youth organisations in the design and monitoring of labour market policies.

Further key findings from the Youth Forum’s publications “Youth in the Crisis – what went wrong?” include:

       as of July 2014 the EU youth unemployment rate was at 22%; 14.6 million young people are not in employment, education or training.

       for young people the situation throughout the crisis has been typically worse than for that of the adult working population. Between 2007 and 2012, youth unemployment rates at least doubled in 12 European countries.

      Youth employment is much more sensitive to economic downturns than the average rate of employemnt. In Spain, for example, half of young workers were on temporary contracts before the crisis and so were the first to lose their jobs when redundancies hit;

       Austerity measures have been specifically targeted at youth. For example, in Greece whilst the general minumim wage was cut by 22%, for young people it was cut by 32%.

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