Monday

3rd Oct 2022

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

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe 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.

Deregulation of new GMO crops: science or business?

Academics and biotech research organisations with corporate interests have been leading the lobby campaign to deregulate new genomic techniques in the EU — using 'climate-friendly' and 'science-based' narratives, according to a report.

Netherlands tops EU social safety net for the poor

The Netherlands is the only EU state where the minimum income is above the poverty line. A minimum income is not a wage but rather a social safety net to ensure people do not end up destitute.

News in Brief

  1. Russia halts gas supplies to Italy
  2. Bulgaria risks hung parliament after inconclusive vote
  3. Latvian ruling party wins elections
  4. EU ministers adopt measures to tackle soaring energy bills
  5. EU takes Malta to court over golden passports
  6. EU to ban Russian products worth €7bn a year more
  7. Denmark: CIA did not warn of Nord Stream attack
  8. Drone sightings in the North Sea 'occurred over months'

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. The European Association for Storage of EnergyRegister for the Energy Storage Global Conference, held in Brussels on 11-13 Oct.
  2. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBA lot more needs to be done to better protect construction workers from asbestos
  3. European Committee of the RegionsThe 20th edition of EURegionsWeek is ready to take off. Save your spot in Brussels.
  4. UNESDA - Soft Drinks EuropeCall for EU action – SMEs in the beverage industry call for fairer access to recycled material
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic prime ministers: “We will deepen co-operation on defence”
  6. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries

Latest News

  1. EU leaders have until Friday for refugee resettlement pledges
  2. Cities and regions stand with citizens and SMEs ahead of difficult winter
  3. Editor's weekly digest: A week of leaks
  4. Putin declares holy war on Western 'satanism'
  5. Two elections and 'Macron's club' in focus Next WEEK
  6. EU agrees windfall energy firm tax — but split on gas-price cap
  7. Ukrainian chess prodigy: 'We are not going to resign ... anywhere'
  8. Going Down Under — EU needs to finish trade deal with Australia

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us