• Jobless in the eurozone hit 11.3 percent in July, up from 10.1 percent last year (Photo: xOchoa)

Youth unemployment risks 'social disaster'

31.08.12 @ 22:45

  1. By Nikolaj Nielsen
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BRUSSELS - The rise in youth unemployment in some member states could pose a “serious threat to social cohesion,” the European Commission warned Friday (31 August).

“EU institutions, governments and businesses and special partners of all levels need to do all they can to avoid a lost generation which will be an economic and social disaster,” EU employment commissioner Laszlo Andor said in a statement.

The warning came as the EU’s statistical office, Eurostat, released figures indicating youth unemployment in the eurozone fell in ten member states but suffered major increases in Greece, Spain, and Cyprus.

Both Greece and Spain now have the highest number of unemployed youth with 53.8 percent and 52.9 percent respectively. German and Austria have the lowest at 8.0 percent and 8.9 percent.

The eurostat figures indicate that the number of young people in the eurozone increased by 204,000 in July compared to the same time last year. Some 22.5 percent of under 24s are now jobless as opposed to 21.3 percent in 2011.

Separately, Italy’s national institute of statistics on Friday indicated that just over 35 percent of youth aged 24 and under is jobless.

The Commission said around €3 billion from the European social fund (ESF) has been released to member states to tackle the problem.

Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Portugal, Slovakia and Spain are recipients of the ESF funds in a pilot project launched earlier this year. Youth unemployment in each of these countries is over 30 percent.

The European Youth Forum (YFJ), a platform of youth organisation in Europe, claims the eight countries have not used the money to finance any new measures.

"We keep looking forward to indicators and updates that this money actually arrives in member states and is put to use on the ground to help young people find work," said YFJ president Peter Matjašič.

Matjašič welcomed the Commission’s Youth Guarantee proposal which aims to find young people a employment, training or re-training within four months of losing their jobs.

“Investing €10 billion in a Youth Guarantee could bring 2 million young people of the unemployment register by 2014,” claims Matjašič.

Meanwhile, total eurozone unemployment figures in July hit 11.3 percent, up from 10.1 percent the same time last year.

The percentage difference represents around an additional 2 million people out of work.