Young people protest against unemployment in the Spanish capital, Madrid. (File photo)
The European Union employment commissioner has warned that a ‘lost generation’ of Europeans could be created as a record number of youths is without work.
Laszlo Andor, the Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion of the European Commission, said on Wednesday that the youth unemployment and its related social problems now cost the European Union about 1.2 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), which equals to some 150 billion euros.
“It’s an enormous sum. It’s an enormous waste. It’s a waste of human capital, because if young people for years don’t find their way to the labor market, it means that it easily becomes a lost generation,” Andor stated.
The European Union employment commissioner made the remarks during a meeting with German Labor and Social Affairs Minister Ursula von der Leyen in Berlin over the issue of high rates of youth unemployment in parts of Europe.
According to an EU press release, youth unemployment registered a 23.6% rate in January 2013, which is more than double that of the adult rate. A total of 7.5 million young Europeans (aged 15-24) are neither employed nor under education or training.
The jobless rates among the young in austerity-stricken member states of the European Union are - among others - 60 percent in Greece, 55 percent in Spain and almost 39 percent in Italy, Andor said.
He continued by warning that both the financial loss and major social risks related to unemployment “has also the potential for further destabilization.”
Meanwhile, the German labor minister said she was set to travel to Spain next month to sign a memorandum of understanding regarding a dual training program, which pairs formal academic education with on-the-job training in companies.
Von der Leyen also pushed for job seekers and employers alike to “look beyond the borders” within the European Union. “There are many young people searching for work. Think European!”
She also underscored that “young people must not be made to pay today for the mistakes made in the past.”
At the cost of six billion euros (about $7.8 billion), the European Union has initiated a scheme to guarantee a European youth either a job placement, work training, or an internship within four months of leaving school.
The debt crisis at the European Union has forced the governments to adopt harsh austerity measures and tough economic reforms that have triggered protests in many European countries.