COVID-19 ended a six-year trend of declining in youth unemployment, as youngster were overrepresented in the sectors most impacted by pandemic restrictions and more likely to work on temporary contracts or part time. Mental health and general well-being of youngsters were also greatly impacted by the pandemic, contributing to a decrease in life satisfaction with nearly two-thirds of young people at risk of depression. Moreover, their participation and access to education were heavily disrupted, affecting youngsters from vulnerable groups the most. It had detrimental effects on youth learning and skills accumulation, affecting their labour market inclusion.
Currently, youth unemployment in the EU is 2.5 times higher than the general unemployment rate, with non-standard work rates remaining very high among them. These are often precarious, low-paid jobs that provide little employment or social protection, leading to insecurity and precarious working conditions. Now, we are facing new challenges and crises: the war in Ukraine – with many children, women and young refugees arriving to Europe and the cost-of-living crisis, that will affect the most those who are already struggling. Moreover, the green and digital transitions are bringing changes to the labour markets, creating labour shortages but increasing up- and re-skilling needs, at the risk of leaving low-trained, low-experienced young people even further behind.
Some measures were introduced to support young people during the pandemic. These included the reinforced European Youth Guarantee, national initiatives to keep young people in education, and measures to reduce barriers to existing financial support. However, many of these policy responses were temporary. Thus, there is a clear need for reinforced support and comprehensive, long-term policy strategies for youth.
2022 is the European Year of Youth, shining a light on the importance of European youth to build a better future – greener, more inclusive, and digital. You can discover below what Eurodiaconia has done for the youth and the European Year of Youth campaign!