Increasing funding for youth unemployment scheme tops today’s agenda in the European Parliament

Top of the Parliament’s agenda this week was a debate with the Commission on the latest plan to make €1 billion in Youth Employment Initiative (YEI) funding available in 2015.

This amounts to a third of the total funding available for the period 2014-2020. This plan to frontload the funding for the YEI is a recognition of the seriousness of the situation and the need to ensure young people can get into the workforce quickly.

There are currently more than five million young people (aged 15-24) across the EU who are unemployed. This means one in five young people are out of work across the EU!

The YEI funding tops up European Social Fund (ESF) money in Member States with regions where youth unemployment is greater than 25%. The UK is one of the Member States taking part in the YEI and Merseyside has been identified as one of the eligible areas to participate in this project. Figures published last month show a youth unemployment rate of 16% for the North West.

The YEI aims to reduce youth unemployment by accelerating the transition from school to work and helping to create jobs. It will be used to support measures outlined in the Youth Employment Package and in particular, in the Youth Guarantee.

Under the Commission’s Youth Guarantee scheme all under 25s should receive a quality offer of a job, continued education, an apprenticeship or a traineeship within four months of leaving formal education or becoming unemployed.

The Parliament and the Council would need come together and agree to amend ESF rules to allow them to frontload the YEI funding in 2015.The EU funding for YEI for 2014-2020 is €3.2 billion. This will be matched by at least €3.2 billion from the Member States’ own (ESF) allocations.

By making €1 billion available for 2015, this proposal would increase the YEI pre-financing rate from 1-1.5% to up to 30%. This means more projects can be started sooner and it will be easier for them to get up and running.

We need to make sure young people have hope, aspiration and access to quality jobs. The YEI and the Youth Guarantee are our best way of doing this. We must do everything we can to ensure young people get the best start in employment and that they aren’t left to linger on the side-lines unable to get a job or a work-placement.