Government makes €50 million extra available to fight youth unemployment

The Government is making €50 million extra available to fight youth unemployment in 2013 and 2014. Half the money will go to the School Ex programme, aimed at keeping secondary vocational students in education, and the other half will go to labour market regions to help young people find work. An ambassador for tackling youth unemployment will also be appointed.

These measures were announced today in the House of Representatives by Lodewijk Asscher (Minister for Social Affairs and Employment) and Jet Bussemaker (Ministry of Education, Culture and Science). Youth unemployment can also be prevented by tackling the number of school leavers without qualifications and a better alignment between education and the labour market.

To give a face to these measures, the Government will appoint – for a two-year period – an ambassador for tackling youth unemployment. He or she will try to bring job opportunities closer to young people by involving concerned parties like municipal authorities and employers. Job opportunities will arise from more effective matching between young job seekers and vacancies, work placements, and training places.

Regional approach
The Government is making €25 million available for fighting youth unemployment in the labour market regions, where municipalities and local partners can help young people find jobs. This measure builds upon the regional approach and cooperative framework created by the Youth Unemployment Action Plan in 2009. The money will be spent on projects like the Startersbeurs (New Job Seekers Fair), an initiative for providing experience for new job seekers, and the Jongerenloket (Youth Helpdesk), where young people can get advice on training and employment.

School Ex
€25 million will go to School Ex, a programme to encourage final year students in secondary vocational education to continue studying once they have gained their diploma with a view to increasing their options on the labour market. They will be encouraged to choose study programmes in areas with good job prospects, like engineering and technology.

Social partners
To give young people an extra helping hand, the Government is asking the social partners to forge plans for creating training places and work placements. Under certain conditions, the Government will cofinance these plans. This will enable the market sector to offer practical experience to young talent. The Technology Pact, which the Government will conclude this spring with the social partners and educational institutions, will help train young people in technical and other fields with labour shortages.

Sharp rise in youth unemployment
In 2011, 9.8% of the young were unemployed; the figure for January 2013 was 15%. In January, the overall unemployment rate was 7.5%. Unemployment especially hurts school leavers seeking a training course or work placement, young people with no qualifications, and those of a non-Western background.