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Tackling youth unemployment at its root


The crisis has hit young people harder than anyone else: today more than 5 million Europeans under 25 are unemployed in the 28 countries of the European Union. Young people are not only faced with the difficulty of searching for a first job without previous working experience; they also have to face a rapidly-changing job market and a struggling economy that is striving for growth.

“We can’t afford to let a generation go to waste” Ivo Belet MEP

The troubles young people are facing today remind me of the time I was looking for my first job.

My story

I graduated in 1981 and the youth unemployment rates then were comparable to today. There were simply no jobs for young people at that time.

I really wanted to teach and got several opportunities in secondary and high schools, but they were all, without exception, temporary. Every school experience was very promising and satisfying, but unfortunately I had to start over again and again.

Traineeships: a real kick-start to my career

I then chose to go abroad and was fortunate enough to get a traineeship in the European Parliament in Luxembourg, then after that with the European Commission. It never occurred to me that 23 years later I would sit again on these same benches as a Member of the European Parliament.

The traineeship was a great opportunity for me: it really broadened my horizons, awakened my interest in Europe and offered a real kick-start to my career.

It never occurred to me that 23 years later I would sit again on these same benches as a Member of the European Parliament

I got a job as a parliamentary assistant in the European Parliament and then entered the media working as a journalist with public television. After 15 years I found my way back to the European Parliament.

Early action to curb youth unemployment

Having first-hand experience of how defining a traineeship can be for a career, I’m a strong defender of the European Youth Guarantee Scheme.

This approach to tackling youth unemployment ensures that all young people under 25 get a good-quality, concrete offer within 4 months of leaving formal education or becoming unemployed. The good-quality offer should be for a job, apprenticeship, traineeship, or continued education and be adapted to each individual need and situation.

Great opportunity to acquire experience

The main challenge young people face is that, when applying for a job, they have to compete with people who are more experienced. A traineeship offers great opportunities to acquire that experience, learn on the job and show what talents you have.

Experience is key, but also education

Experience is key, but also education. The Youth Guarantee Scheme helps young people break into the job market not just via these traineeships but also by offering them continued education or by combining studies with an apprenticeship.

We can’t afford to let a generation go to waste: inaction is not an option.

We believe in people. #believeinpeople

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