Strategies to improve labour market integration for young people

A serious young man outdoors

A new paper analyzes national strategies to implement the Youth Guarantee (YG).

The paper is written by NEGOTIATE researchers I. Dingeldey, M-L. Assmann and L. Steinberg from the University of Bremen.

The paper Strategies to improve labour market integration for young people: comparing policy coordination in nine European countries (pdf) assesses the impact of the YG on national policies, and whether the changes are in line with ‘new’ forms of policy coordination.

The analysis is based on nine in-depth country studies including Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Greece, Germany, Poland, Spain, the UK and two non-EU countries; Norway and Switzerland, which serve as a reference group.

The empirical research makes use of both primary and secondary sources, as well as four to six expert interviews per country to identify different types of youth employment regimes and strategies used to implement the respective policies.

The introduction of the YG was met with high expectations. Since the economic crisis youth unemployment has significantly increased. It was accompanied by a flexibilisation of employment forms and the lowering of youth wages, both attempts to facilitate integration in the labour market. Hence, it was up to the YG to address existing problems vis-à-vis young people entering the labour market, and to improve policy coordination.

In order to understand whether the YG has actually lived up to its high expectations on the national level, the following questions have been investigated;

  • Which types of activation strategies to implement the YG are chosen by the national governments?
  • Does this imply change of domestic policies and result in “new” forms of policy coordination?
  • To what extent are the occurred developments influenced by the national context?

The first part of the working paper provides 1) information on the YG and gives 2) an overview on comparative labour market and school-to-work-transition literature. In a further step 3), the research approach and research assumptions are outlined and 4) criteria for different youth policy regimes are presented, also taking into account the role of national institutions.

In the second part empirical research is presented that serves as a basis for 5) the identification of different types of youth employment regimes in the respective countries. Then 6) further domestic influences on the implementation of the YG are identified and it is illustrated 7) what kind of strategies are developed in the countries to improve the labour market situation for young people.

According to this design the researchers identify different implementation strategies in line with national institutional settings: The majority of countries aims at an immediate integration of young people into the labour market or to say implement a ‘work-first’ approach. Overall, in countries where youth unemployment is exceptionally high, namely in Greece, Spain and Bulgaria, YG measures intend to stimulate labour demand by giving subventions to employers.

An enabling approach is followed by Germany as well as Switzerland and Norway – namely countries with institutions that systematically guide school-to-work transition at least for the younger age cohorts. Besides, this rather path dependent implementation of the YG, the improvement of coordination, supporting  a better integration of NEETs into the labour market by outreaching measures, the linkage between different policy fields and the involvement of  diverse actors, is highlighted as a consequence of the YG.

You can read the full version of this working paper here (pdf).