What is the situation of young people employment in Europe?

A difficult socio-economical context

The development of the European society is linked to different factors: technological innovations, globalisation, economic variations, etc. These factors have a huge impact on the labour market, and in particular on vulnerable people.

The unemployment rate has been really important these last few years in Europe: in 2014, more than 24 million of people were unemployed. Consequently, the number of people living under the poverty line has dramatically increased since 2009.

Young people vulnerable to unemployment

The youth has been particularly affected by theses problems.


21,9% of young people were unemployed in 2014.
This is more than twice the overall unemployment rate.


Nowadays, young people (15-24 years old) have to face the multiplication of precarious jobs and non-paid internships.

  •  About 43% of the youngsters are in a fixed-term employment (14% for the global population)
  •  About  31.9% of the youngsters are in part-time job (19.6% of the global population).

The situation is even more complicated for young people without qualifications. The early school leaving has increased: it reached 11.1% in the EU in 2014, and only 40% of the early school leavers were employed. Thus, the unemployment rate of lower qualified youngsters is higher than the average rate: 29.8%. 


7 million of young people were NEET (Nor in Employment, Education or Training)  in 2014

European disparities

Great disparities exist between the European countries. For example, in Greece and Spain, the youth unemployment rate nearly amounts to 50%. Whereas, in Germany or Austria, the youth unemployment rate is under 9%.

A loss for the EU

Eurofound estimates that the costs of youth inactivity and unemployment represent an annual loss of 153 billion euros for the EU. The integration of at least 10% of theses youngsters on the labour market could represent a annual gain of 15 billion euros.

Focus on ... the young care leaver's situation

Observatories on social matters for youth have raised awareness about the lack of specific help for those who need it the most in their transition to an independent adulthood: young people leaving the care sector.


1 million children in Care institutions across the EU

150 000 care leavers every year


Young care leavers’ particularities

Care leavers form a vulnerable group with significant disadvantages compared to their non-care peers, regarding access to employment and psycho-social difficulties. Children leaving the care system are more likely to end up homeless, to commit crimes, to be teen parents, to see their own children taken into care, etc. European-wide data is lacking, but in the UK for example, only 1% go onto University, compared to around 38% of the general population.

Young care leavers’ multidimensional help

The leaving care experience is obviously a multidimensional issue. It questions the necessary continuity between child care and young adult care; the long-term work on family ties and parenting support; the access to housing and self-sufficiency; the state of social inclusion of young people when foster or residential care ends, and so on. Youth workers are aware of these difficulties and deploy various answers to better assist children towards their path to autonomy. Several research projects have been carried out on the question, and although data is still scarce, more and more scientific literature is now available to professionals.

Young care leavers’ lack of vocational perspective

Among these aspects, one has drawn a specific attention among our organisations: the difficulty of youth workers to engage the young people they take care of in long-term life projects, and more specifically vocational ones. While significant efforts are made by care institutions to help children return or be maintained in the education system, the lack of vocational perspective, the few wishes and ideas expressed regarding a potential future career, and the existing distance with the professional world appear as true shortcomings.


A lack of specific tools for youth social workers

The problem is twofold:

  • Many young people in care are in fact neither in employment, nor in education or training (NEETs), which strongly jeopardizes their chances to gain autonomy when they leave the care system.
  • Youth social workers often lack the time and experience required to build the methodological tools and the local networks that could enhance youth vocational integration. For example: specific moments to work with young people at building their own vocational project in order to obtain a first immersion in the professional world.

No official European guidelines to solve the problem

While child care actors across the EU countries all agreed on the issues that the transition between care institutions and professional environment raises, there are no official European guidelines on how to tackle these issues. Since there is a broad variety of situations, policies and programs existing in the different European countries, the ABEONA’s partners believe that it’s necessary to launch a transnational project in  order to acknowledge, select, develop and experiment the best practices to support care leavers’ transition to adulthood.


The ABEONA project aims at building a consortium of European organisations interested in young care leavers' issues, and willing to put a specific focus on vocational integration as a tool for an improved transition of youth towards autonomy.

Have a look at ABEONA's project

Focus on ... European Union strategies for employment


Europe 2020  is designed to create sustainable growth in Europe through the achievement of five targets. Three of them are related to employment and training:

  • Employment : 75% of the 20-64 year-olds to be employed
  • Education : reduction of the rates of early school leaving below 10% (15.7% in 2015) and at least 40% of 30-34–year-olds completing third level education (27.9% in 2005).
  • Fighting poverty and social exclusion : at least 20 million fewer people in or at risk of poverty and social exclusion

The Youth Employment Package

has been created in 2012 to tackle youth unemployment and early school leaving. Recommendations and orientations documents have been drawn in order to help the member states to offer jobs, internship and apprenticeship to the youth.


The Youth Guarantee

has been launched to help youngsters find a job or an internships within 4 months of leaving formal education or becoming unemployed.

Many other initiatives are launched by the EU.






Nb : In all this section, young people means youngsters from 15 to 24 years old.


Figures in this section belong to the documents below

Commission Européenne, European semester thematic fiche :
youth unemployment

Union Européenne, Youth unemployment, 2013:
21 youth unemployment


Commission Européenne, European semester thematic fiche :
Early leavers from education and trainings, 2015


Europe 2020 targets

Youth Guarantee