Friday

15th Dec 2017

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.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

“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.

Supported by

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Dialogue PlatformThe Gülen Community: Who to Believe - Politicians or Actions?" by Thomas Michel
  2. Plastics Recyclers Europe65% plastics recycling rate attainable by 2025 new study shows
  3. European Heart NetworkCommissioner Andriukaitis' Address to EHN on the Occasion of Its 25th Anniversary
  4. ACCACFOs Risk Losing Relevance If They Do Not Embrace Technology
  5. UNICEFMake the Digital World Safer for Children & Increase Access for the Most Disadvantaged
  6. European Jewish CongressWelcomes Recognition of Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel and Calls on EU States to Follow Suit
  7. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Boost Innovation Cooperation Under Horizon 2020
  8. European Gaming & Betting AssociationJuncker’s "Political" Commission Leaves Gambling Reforms to the Court
  9. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Applauds U.S. Recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital City
  10. EU2017EEEU Telecom Ministers Reached an Agreement on the 5G Roadmap
  11. European Friends of ArmeniaEU-Armenia Relations in the CEPA Era: What's Next?
  12. Mission of China to the EU16+1 Cooperation Injects New Vigour Into China-EU Ties

Latest News

  1. Estonia completes two out of three priority digital bills
  2. EU countries are not 'tax havens', parliament says
  3. Tech firms' delays mean EU needs rules for online terror
  4. Slovak PM: Human rights are not a travel pass to EU
  5. British PM limps to EU capital after Brexit defeat
  6. US pleads for clarity on Brexit aviation 'black hole'
  7. Tusk migration note prompts institutional 'hysteria'
  8. Migration looms over summit, as Africa pledges fall short