EU Pledges 100,000 New Jobs by 2017 to Fight Youth Unemployment

More than 100,000 new apprenticeships, trainee slots and entry-level jobs will be created by 2017 under a new European Union effort to reduce youth unemployment, EU Labor Commissioner Marianne Thyssen said Tuesday.

The EU aims to jump-start hiring by creating 10,000 business-education partnerships with the European Business Network for Corporate Social Responsibility, a group whose members include corporations and national associations. The plan aims to add to previous efforts to add apprenticeships and distribute funding from the bloc’s Youth Employment Initiative.

“With 4.5 million young people looking for work, youth unemployment remains one of the most pressing challenges in the EU today,” Thyssen said in a speech in Brussels. She said the companies that signed on to the agreement have pledged to deliver the new positions.

Unemployment across the 28-nation EU stood at 20.1 percent for under-25 job seekers in September, and 22.1% within the 19-nation euro area. In Italy, Spain, Croatia and Greece, the rate was more than 40 percent, according to the most recent data available.

The EU pledges are a step in the right direction, said Guntram Wolff, director of the Brussels-based Bruegel research group. At the same time, past pledges to help youth unemployment have been tough to convert into funding for real jobs.

“The reality is that very little of that money actually got disbursed and basically youth unemployment hasn’t moved downward significantly in the last two years,” Wolff said in a telephone interview.

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