Saturday

23rd Feb 2019

Focus

EU states must act on youth poverty

  • Spain is particularly tough for young workers, with many taking low quality jobs because of a lack of other opportunities. (Photo: keith ellwood)

Youth campaigners have urged EU states to rethink the culture of “jobs at any cost”, after the International Labour Organisation (ILO) highlighted the proportion of working young people at risk of poverty.

The ILO said in a report that Europeans between 18 and 24 years old did not suffer from high unemployment, but many still faced "relative poverty" because the jobs they took on were comparatively badly paid.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

“In developed countries, there is growing evidence over the past couple of decades of a shift in the age distribution of poverty, with youth taking the place of the elderly as the group at greatest risk of living in poverty,” said the report, World Employment and Social Outlook 2016: Trends for Youth.

The ILO, a UN agency, regards workers paid less than 60 percent of the median wage as facing relative poverty.

Among the worst offenders were Romania, where 35 percent of employed youngsters were at risk of relative poverty, Sweden (22 percent), Spain (21 percent) and Greece (20 percent).

The ILO suggested that the problems stemmed from the type of employment on offer, which was often temporary or part time.

“These forms of employment are often associated with lower wages, limited access to training, slow career advancement and lower levels of social protection, all of which combine to undermine youth prospects in the labour market and their income potential,” said the report.

Vicious cycle

The report also showed that many young Europeans were taking jobs that they did not want.

More than one-third of youngsters in the EU in temporary work – jobs that may be full-time but with contracts that are short-term – took their jobs because they could not find permanent employment.

That figure exceeded two-thirds in Cyprus, Romania, Slovakia, Portugal and Spain.

Meanwhile, of those in part-time work, more than 70 percent in Italy and Romania took jobs because of a lack of other opportunities. Greece and Spain both registered more than 60 percent.

“Such high incidence of involuntary part-time employment is closely linked to the fact that youth in this form of employment are more likely to live in poverty despite having a job,” the report said.

Clementine Moyart, a policy officer with the European Youth Forum, said the report's findings showed the limitations of the current approach focusing on getting young people into work without regard to the quality of jobs or contracts.

She said since the 2008 financial crisis, companies rely much more heavily on short-term contracts, often with poor conditions.

“The increase in the risk of poverty and social exclusion is linked to poor quality of contracts – there is no good safety net for young people,” she told EUobserver.

She urged policymakers to think more broadly than youth unemployment and consider other factors such as social exclusion and access to benefits, which are often very difficult for young people to obtain.

“When they lose this contract they don't have anything at all,” she said, trapping them in a "vicious cycle of bad quality employment".

EU 'rebrands' youth corps

The European Commission proposes a €341-million budget to get unemployed people into volunteering activities or traineeships that “promote solidarity” in their own countries or abroad.

News in Brief

  1. May to meet Tusk on Sunday at Arab summit
  2. Report: Russia offered Italy's Salvini €3m for EU election
  3. EU and US could 'quickly' clinch mini-trade pact
  4. Belgium to gather evidence on Syria 'foreign fighters'
  5. Dozens of Tory and Labour MPs threatening to quit over Brexit
  6. UK will struggle on free-trade deals, EU says
  7. Juncker pledges climate action alongside Swedish activist
  8. Swedbank brings in external help on money laundering revelations

Supported by

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  2. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  3. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  4. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  5. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change
  7. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament takes incoherent steps on climate in future EU investments
  8. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups

Latest News

  1. Brexit and Orban in spotlight This WEEK
  2. Swedish activist urges EU to double climate goals
  3. EP budget chair seeks clarity on Saudi lobbying and College of Europe
  4. Microsoft warns EU on election hack threat
  5. Brexit talks to continue after May-Juncker meeting
  6. Trump and Kurz: not best friends, after all
  7. EU commission appeals Dieselgate ruling
  8. 'No burning crisis' on migrant arrivals, EU agency says

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us