EU backing for youth jobs plan

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Approval for a plan to guarantee education, training or employment for all 16 to 24 year olds has been welcomed by Minister for Youth Employment Angela Constance.

Employment Ministers attending Europe’s Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council (EPSCO) approved a Youth Guarantee this week, which will provide young people with an opportunity within four months of leaving education or becoming unemployed.

However, Ms Constance expressed her disappointment that the UK did not support the plan. The UK Government opposed the proposal on the basis that they disagree with intervention at four months.

She said:

“Following three positive, consecutive sets of youth employment figures, the Scottish Government remains committed to supporting young people into jobs. Last year, I met representatives from Finland and Austria, which have implemented Youth Guarantees, and heard clear evidence of the benefits of intervening early when young people become unemployed.

“We have made an excellent start towards a youth guarantee with our Opportunities for All initiative which offers all 16 to 19 year olds in Scotland a place in education or training. However, implementing the youth guarantee in full requires powers over employment services which currently reside with the UK Government. Through our investment in programmes like Community Jobs Scotland and the forthcoming Employer Recruitment Incentive, we are addressing gaps in DWP provision for young people aged 16 to 24 who have been unemployed for less than six months.

“I am very disappointed that the UK has not supported a plan that could change the lives of millions of young people. This week’s actions demonstrate very well how being a separate member of the EU could benefit Scotland.”

Employment Ministers from EU Member States reached political agreement reached on the proposed Youth Guarantee Recommendation at the EU’s Council of Employment and Social Affairs Ministers on February 28.

Under the Youth Guarantee, Member States should put in place measures to ensure that young people up to age 25 receive a good quality offer of employment, continued education, an apprenticeship or a traineeship within four months of leaving school or becoming unemployed.

The Recommendation, proposed by the Commission on 5 December 2012 as part of the Youth Employment Package, gives Member States a clear benchmark and precise guidelines for establishing their own Youth Guarantee scheme on the basis of:

  • establishing strong partnerships with all stakeholders
  • ensuring early intervention and activation to avoid young people becoming or remaining out of work, education or training
  • taking supportive measures that will enable labour market integration
  • making full use of EU funding to that end
  • assessing and continuously improving the Youth Guarantee, and
  • implementing the scheme rapidly.