Today in the Chamber Lord Roberts of Llandudno asked the Government what action it was taking with other EU member states to tackle youth employment. We must not allow anti-EU scaremongering to hamper our attempts to get young people back to work, he writes
With almost a quarter of 15- to-24-year-olds unemployed in Europe, only a pan-European initiative has any hope of tackling the crisis. What is the EU doing to combat youth unemployment? The answer, undoubtedly, is more than the UK Government appears to be doing.
At the close of 2012, the EU Commission proposed a package to help member states offer young people jobs, education and training. The €6bn Youth Employment Initiative includes a key youth guarantee in addition to a framework for traineeships and a European alliance for apprenticeships. States are now being urged to put structures in place to ensure that all under-25s receive continued education, a job, apprenticeship or traineeship within four months of leaving education or becoming unemployed.
Today in the Lords, I asked the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether he would add his voice to colleagues – including Phil Bennion MEP among others in the EU Parliament – that the UK must take action. It is good news that ministers are backing the guarantee, but we still need answers. Which UK regions will be eligible for support? Just how is Government going to use the added value of this EU funding to truly tackle youth unemployment?
Of course, I fully support the existing efforts already being done by Lib Dems in government – not least on the £1bn Youth Contract – but I suggest we face a Sisyphean struggle. Youth unemployment ought to be the central priority for the Coalition for indeed the future of the Union depends on how we embark upon this critical task. But as we observed in the Chamber today, Tory Euroscepticism remains the main stumbling-block to European-wide efforts to take on this duty.
As endorsed by President Obama yesterday, Europe must speak with one voice on tackling youth unemployment. He’s right – our Old Continent does risk “losing a generation”. After all, today’s youth is tomorrow’s workforce. We must not allow anti-Europe scaremongering hold back these vital projects our young people both need and deserve.
Published and promoted by Tim Gordon on behalf of the Liberal Democrats, both at LDHQ, 8-10 Great George Street, London, SW1P 3AE.