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In the past five years, Europe has witnessed an unseen rise of youth unemployment, to the extent that some speak of a “lost generation”. Young people have been among the ones hit hardest by the crisis. Furthermore, even when young people are in employment, they often have to suffer bad working conditions, precarious contracts and exploitation. There are 94 million young people (aged 15-29), including a high number of “NEETs”: young people Not in Employment, Education or Training”.

The “Act-Up Agora” Agency analysis group looked at European political parties’ proposals against youth unemployment, and more specifically at the following six topics. Based on this analysis, they rated each party on these questions thanks to traffic light colouring (red, orange and green), for the degree of priority given to these topics (first traffic light) and the degree of details in their proposals (second traffic light).

 

Education is the first key one needs to find a job corresponding to his/her aspirations and qualifications, but is too often disconnected from the labour market. The AAAgency has looked specifically at four questions related to education: access to and quality of higher education, adaptation to an increasingly digitized labour market (through coding, social media management…), facilitation of entrepreneurship for young people, equivalence of titles across EU Member States. Regarding these issues, the AAAgency looked for concrete proposals and assessed European parties’ positions on these themes.

Internships and apprenticeships are a way to enter the labour market, a first way to put into practice the knowledge acquired during the education phase and to gain a professional experience. But interns and apprentices are also often used as a free or cheap working force by companies, and sometimes abusively replacing paid staff. Thus, the AAAgency looked at what every party had to say on that issue.

Workers’ rights appeared to the AAAgency as an important issue regarding youth unemployment, due to the fact that many young people have to work in very insecure conditions for years when entering the labour market. Furthermore, discrepancies between Member States in terms of workers’ rights are sometimes used in a race to the bottom for an ever lower cost of labour, at the expense of workers. In that regard, we looked at what each party proposes on minimum wages, health insurance, on family rights (e.g. maternity/paternity leave) and union rights.

Mobility for the youth can allow greater access to employment opportunities and offer the chance to gain experience in a foreign work environment as well as improve job and language skills. But at the same time, mobility can be forced: facing the impossibility to find a job at home, some people decide to leave just to find the subsistence ways they can’t have otherwise. The AAAgency looked at how parties concretely responded to challenges posed both by ongoing obstacles to mobility in the EU and by forced mobility, notably for economic and social reasons.

For the analysis of quality of employment offered to young people, the AAAgency looked notably at the type and duration of contract, match between qualification and job (since many young people are overqualified for the jobs they have), work-life balance and decent wages (high enough to ensure a dignified life). The AAAgency therefore looked for any proposal of the European parties which improve working conditions.

Discrimination on the grounds of religion or belief, disability, age, or sexual orientation is in theory prohibited in the frame of employment and occupation in the EU (Directive CE/2000/78 establishes a general framework for equal treatment in employment and occupation). The AAAgency analysed parties’ proposals to tackle anti-discrimination in employment on these grounds as well as gender discrimination.