Ministers back €6bn pledge on youth jobs

Joan Burton: hopes move will help to tackle high youth unemployment

Joan Burton: hopes move will help to tackle high youth unemployment


EU social affairs and employment ministers meeting in Dublin have backed a guarantee of jobs, training or education for people between the ages of 15 and 25.

The move would help to tackle the high rate of youth unemployment across the EU – currently 24 per cent – for people who had been out of work for four months, said Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton, who co-chaired the meeting as part of Ireland’s EU presidency.

But some member states were concerned about where funding for the guarantee would come from, officials said. Some member states would be able to use domestic social funds while EU funds may also be made available.

Yesterday evening EU budget negotiations in Brussels resulted in €6 billion being earmarked to tackle youth unemployment.

Ms Burton said there was a need for funding in the area and that president of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy had given a commitment to funding for education and training.

She said the EU had to address Europe’s social problems and not just its financial institutions.

“To some extent what we have had is finance ministers coming out and, of course, indicating the parameters of the financial crisis mentioning unemployment but not going into how do we address this particular issue,” she said.

She said she hoped ministers would formally approve the youth guarantee at a meeting in Brussels on February 28th.

EU ministers also agreed to tackle the skills gap in the technology sector, which would see 700,000 job vacancies by 2015, said Minister for Jobs Richard Bruton, who also co-chaired the meeting.

Next month industry, unions and government officials will meet in Brussels to share information on practices in different countries and to propose ways of tackling the problem.“Skills mismatches in the EU have increased markedly during the crisis,” said Mr Bruton.

Increasing employment among older women was also discussed. There were 22 million jobless women in the 50 to 64 age group in Europe and these could make an “invaluable contribution” to the economy, said Minister for Equality Kathleen Lynch.