We need to avoid that the young generation gets stuck in precariousness!

The young activists of industriAll Europe’s Youth Working Group expressed serious concerns about the present situation faced by young workers and for their future, at their first online meeting since the onset of the COVID-19 crisis. And they have reason for concern.

Youth unemployment, which was already high because of the 2008-09 crisis, is expected to surge again across Europe in the coming months. The situation for apprentices is also very worrying, as companies and training centres in many countries are announcing cuts in available apprenticeships. Furthermore, there is doubt about the re-opening of schools for vocational education and training in September. 

Europe’s youth was already bearing the brunt of the 2008-09 crisis when the austerity measures imposed by politicians left many young workers in precarious working conditions. Almost half of Europe’s young people (44%) aged between 19 and 24 years, were in 2017 reported to be on a temporary contract. The duration of these contracts is often less than one month, offering neither social protection nor training opportunities. Young people were also the group reported to be most affected by in-work poverty (10%) which often translates into the inability to afford decent housing and healthy food.

The COVID-19 crisis has heavily impacted young workers and there are fears that the situation will worsen. Eurostat reports an explosion in youth unemployment which reached 15,2% in March 2020 in the EU compared to 6% reported in 2019. 

We need to avoid that the young generation gets stuck in precariousness! Young people must be able to start their professional lives with a good-quality job, that offers security and the possibility for personal and career development through training and life-long learning. This is crucial also in the context of managing the digital and green transformations of industry. Many industries already suffer from a lack of a qualified workforce. We rely on qualified, young people to work in the green and smart industries of the near future.

As we are preparing for economic recovery from the COVID-19 crisis and beyond we must pay attention to young workers and apprentices. Failing the young generation will only play into the hands of the populists. 

IndustriAll Europe’s Youth Working Group will meet again online on 4 June to continue their reflection on concrete demands to improve the situation of young workers and apprentices across Europe.

Contact: Andrea Husen-Bradley press and communication, Patricia Velicu adviser on youth policy