Youth Guarantee

Youth Guarantee in the Western Balkans

Supporting young people in finding work or training has been a priority in the European Union since 2013, when the EU Youth Guarantee was launched and EU member states aimed to ensure young people receive a "good quality offer of employment, continued education, apprenticeship or a traineeship" within a period of four months of becoming unemployed or leaving education. 

At the Brdo EU-Western Balkans ministerial meeting on employment and social affairs in July, 2021 the Youth Guarantee was launched in the Western Balkans in response to the COVID-19 crisis, the digital and green transitions and following the milestone endorsement of the ‘Western Balkans Declaration on ensuring sustainable labour market integration of young people’.

The European Commission, together with the International Labour Organization (ILO), the European Training Foundation (ETF), and representatives from the Western Balkans launched the preparation of Youth Guarantee Implementation Plans and the Technical Assistance Facility to support this process in October 2021. The declaration also recognised the importance of involving international partners and donors in the process to ensure effective coordination of cooperation efforts.

The Youth Guarantee is an outcome based structural reform for which the means of implementation can vary across countries and regions taking into account the needs of the local labour market. Under the Technical Assistance Facility, the relevant authorities and stakeholders from the Western Balkans will receive support from the ILO and the ETF for designing Youth Guarantee schemes.

The ETF supports the implementation by providing policy advice and guidance on major components of the Guarantee, such as skills development implications of transition from school to work. A series of events to support the process have also begun focusing on the role of public private partnerships and the recent event on the validation of non-formal and informal learning in April 2022.

The ETF is also supporting progress monitoring of the scheme with a wider aim of developing system level monitoring and evaluation of youth-centred programmes within each country, be it activation, training, employment, or entrepreneurship support.

Incentives for youth start-ups are an example of the subsidised employment offers which can be made available under the Youth Guarantee scheme. An ETF study on youth potential in South Eastern Europe and Turkey draws attention to the need for improved public and private training provision in all ETF partner countries by closely following the needs of learners and where they are on their entrepreneurial journeys and providing additional support through peer-to-peer learning and coaching.

The study also points to challenges in reaching out to the young people most in need, but that progress has been made in the capacities of public employment services in the region to engage with and support young people. Greater interinstitutional coordination of policy and programmes aimed at improving the overall situation of young people in a multifaceted approach (education, health, employment, welfare, housing, and civic participation) is required.

The Youth Guarantee is strongly anchored in the EU funding instruments such as the Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (IPA) at country and regional levels which covers all youth policy (education and training, employment, health or culture). Promoting youth mobility for study, experience or peer exchange via Erasmus+  - in which ETF partner countries are eligible to participate - has proved successful in building up young people’s chances of finding a job, learning new skills and enhancing cross-country youth cooperation.