Since the start of the economic crisis, unemployment among young people aged from 15 to 24 has increased by 50% in the European Union. In France, unemployment of young people under age 25 continues to increase and has reached a record level of 22.7% in the second half of 2012. Even if the crisis has undermined its effectiveness, a degree or diploma remains the individual’s best defence against unemployment. Aside from the economic conditions, the employment situation with which young people are faced is a result of structural constraints linked to the operation of the labour market and to the inadequacies of our social model.
Unemployment in the youth labour market has never fallen below 14% since 1982. Therefore the persistence of unemployment in the youth labour market raises the questions of the effectiveness of employment policies. The segmentation of the labour market makes young people into an adjustable variable particularly in periods of crisis. Faced with rising long-term unemployment and the risks of exclusion and poverty, it is the inability of our social model to deal with the situation of new generations which is the issue. The too-widely held view that young people are not well prepared for the world of work has dominated the public debate: poorly trained, misguidedunsure of business practices, even indecisive, they are said to be out of touch with the real world. This attitude must be left behind. It is essentially untrue to claim that young people are unemployable: with more degrees and qualifications than previous generations most of them are capable of innovation, creativity or adaptability to the new technologies needed by companies and of business creation. The accepted «norm» of bringing in young people on a succession of temporary contracts makes no economic sense.
The situation young people find themselves in is the result of a policy which has led to their social and economic exclusion, a policy which must be rejected as a matter of urgency. It is certainly true that a lasting solution to the problem of youth unemployment will not be found while conditions for an improved economic environment are still absent. This statement should not however lead to a wait-and-see attitude or a sense of inevitability. The ESEC, backed by its composition of social partners and all the other elements of civil society, wants to take a renewed look at this major social problem. It is setting out 18 recommendations focussed on five priority objectives.