Photographer: Dimas Ardian/Bloomberg

Europe Is Leaving the Workforce of the Future Behind

Fresh data show 5 million people are outside employment, education or training

Six years after the euro's debt crisis began its attack on economies from Greece to Ireland, one in six people aged between 20 and 24 is still living for the day - not in employment, education or training.

They're NEETS, for short. There are 5 million people that fit this bracket across the 28-nation European Union, according to fresh Eurostat data.

The problem isn't only that they are currently without a job. They “face a permanent disadvantage on the labor market,” according to Guntram Wolff, director of the Brussels-based policy group Bruegel. “They will never be as productive as people who have a normal start.”


Youth unemployment is a particular burden in countries across the Mediterranean region. In Italy, more than 30 percent of the 20 to 24-year-olds were left last year outside work or school, an increase of almost 10 percentage points from 2006. In Greece, the share climbed to 26 percent.   

“Countries that are already facing the consequence of a severe economic crisis will feel the long-term impact of high youth unemployment on their economy in the next 20 to 30 years,” Wolff said.

While countries in Europe's core fare better, their challenges are similar: Joblessness among young Germans or Dutch also exceeds the average rate for the entire working population.

 

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