The European Commission has signalled its intention to bring forward proposals to combat youth unemployment and support transition to work through a range of measures such as youth guarantees, activation measures targeting young people, the quality of traineeships, and youth mobility. The proposed measures follow upon the call by the European Council on 29 June that urged member states to step up efforts to increase youth employment, with "the objective that within a few months of leaving school, young people receive a good quality offer of employment, continued education, apprenticeship or a traineeship".
My colleague the Minister for Social Protection, Deputy Joan Burton, was invited to the Joint Committee on Education and Social Protection on 26 September to outline the business of the forthcoming formal meeting of the Employment and Social Affairs Council, EPSCO, in Luxembourg on 4 October and to brief the joint committee on her priorities for the forthcoming EU Presidency in the first half of 2013. The Minister, Deputy Burton, informed the joint committee that the European Commission is expected to publish a set of proposals in early December in the form of a youth transitions package. The main element of the forthcoming package is expected to be a proposal for a youth guarantee aiming to ensure targeted young people are either working or in appropriate training or work experience within a specified time after becoming unemployed. The objective of the Commission’s proposal is to intensify actions at EU and member state level aimed at addressing the high level of youth unemployment across Europe.
My Department is responsible for convening an interdepartmental committee to co-ordinate policy in regard to the work of the EPSCO. I can confirm that there are continuing discussions involving the Department of Social Protection, the Department of Education and Skills and my Department, among others, regarding the possible content of the expected European Commission proposals, how they can be best adapted to the most urgent needs in the differing labour market circumstances of the EU member states in order to support young people in securing access to good quality apprenticeships, traineeship contracts and entrepreneurial skills, as well as modernising education and training systems to better reflect labour market needs.
I will have an opportunity on Wednesday, that is tomorrow, to discuss the Commission’s proposed measures directly with László Andor, the EU Commissioner responsible for employment, social affairs and inclusion. I will assure Commissioner Andor that the incoming Presidency will co-operate with the European Commission to secure early adoption by the Council in 2013 of measures designed to encourage EU member states to strengthen co-operation among employment services and other labour market stakeholders, including the social partners and education and training bodies to target young people.