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Global youth unemployment in the news

by on November 27, 2014

Three news stories on youth unemployment caught my eye today.

Firstly this story, from the German news organisation DW, which revisits the EU pledge in 2013 to tackle youth unemployment across Europe.  We have previously discussed on our blog the wide variation in youth unemployment across the EU, with countries such as Spain Greece and Italy often highlighted as having some of the most difficult situations.

As DW summarise : “In April 2013 at a summit meeting in Brussels, European national leaders agreed on a so-called Youth Guarantee. That was a promise that in future, once member countries had had time to set up appropriate programs, every European Union citizen under the age of 25 years would be offered a good-quality job, or an individually suited traineeship or placement in continuing education within four months of leaving school or becoming unemployed.

The machinery of program design began churning in Brussels. Not long afterward, in June 2013, the European Commission (EC) allocated six billion euros under a new Youth Employment Initiative (YEI) in support of the Youth Guarantee.  A year and a half later, in November 2014, little of the money had been taken up by EU member states.”

They go onto explore why this money has not been spent,  highlighting the difficulties of singling out ‘youth’ as a focus rather than a broader programme focused on unemployment and stressing the need for long term programmes rather than “knee jerk reactions”.

In a separate but somewhat related debate, Nicola Banks (writing for The Conversation) challenges the notion that ‘entrepreneurship’ is the answer for many of the world’s poor, She again is criticizing knee jerk reactions to big, complex problems and highlighting the focus on young as most targeted by talk of entrepreneurship.  She highlights that “We cannot fix the youth unemployment problem by turning the 73.4m young people who were out of work in 2013 into entrepreneurs”

The final piece that caught my attention was this discussion about youth unemployment in Spain by Samuel Bentolila and Marcel Jansen.  Picking up the thread above, they too highlight the dangers of assuming that entrepreneurship is the answer.  Rather they suggest that many of the young unemployed would benefit from a return to education or some combination of work and training.

This is of course a very high level summary of each piece and I would strongly recommend reading each in detail to fully engage with the arguments put forward in this important articles.

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