The European Commission on Tuesday announced a series of measures aimed at tackling burgeoning youth unemployment in the 27-nation bloc, which in March reached 5.7 million young persons, or 23.5 percent, according to data from Eurostat, Europe's statistical service.
Under the new program, Greece is slated to receive 517 million euros, according to Tuesday's announcement.
“The plan is intended to promote youth employment, training and entrepreneurship, and targets nearly 350,000 young people,” the Commission said.
The Greek government has already launched several initiatives to combat joblessness among the country's young people, which shot to a record 64 percent in February, with EU funding worth approximately 47 million euros. These include temporarily hiring young unemployed (up to 35 years old) in community-based work programs in the cultural sector as well as the provision of support to social structures aiming at combating poverty and social exclusion for the recruitment of young unemployed.
The Commission added that preparations are also in the final stretch for following schemes that are part of its action plan (approximately 146 million euros in EU funds): a so-called “voucher for entrance in the labor market,” which combines training with a five-month job placement in enterprises and targets 45,000 young unemployed up to 29 years old; and blended theoretical and on-the-job training for 1,000 young unemployed seamen up to the same age limit (implementation of the above schemes is expected to start in the course of June).
According to Eurostat, the youth unemployment rate in March was 23.5 percent in the EU-27 and 24 percent in the euro area, relatively stable over the month, but up by respectively 0.9 percentage points and 1.5 percentage points compared to March 2012. The lowest rates were observed in Germany and Austria (both 7.6 percent), The Netherlands (10.5 percent), and the highest in Greece, Spain (55.9 percent), Italy (38.4 percent) and Portugal (38.3 percent).
In February 2012, the European Commission introduced action teams composed of national and Commission officials for the eight member states with the highest levels of youth unemployment (Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Portugal, Slovakia and Spain) to mobilize EU structural funding (including from the European Social Fund) still available in the 2007-2013 programing period to support job opportunities for young people and to facilitate small and medium-sized businesses gain access to finance.