Skills and Jobs – Investing for Youth: financing the future of Europe’s young generations
Youth unemployment is one of the main challenges facing Europe. The EIB Group's "Skills and Jobs – Investing for Youth" programme aims to address the jobs crisis facing the EU's young generation of 15-24 year olds.
The initiative's aim is twofold:
- To boost "Jobs for Youth" across the EU by improving access to finance for SMEs
- To enhance employability via "Investment in Skills", targeting projects focused on education, vocational training and student finance
Without urgent action to develop our young jobseekers into a skilled and experienced workforce, Europe's viability as an innovative and competitive market is at risk. Such an exceptional problem requires a coherent and coordinated response. The Bank's programme complements the EU Youth Employment Initiative, as well as the multiple national and regional schemes at EU Member State level.
The EIB signed EUR 13 billion for the programme in 2014, EUR 10 billion for the Jobs pillar and EUR 3 billion for skills.
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Since 1994, ALSPAW Company in Poland has been the worldwide leader in the production of aluminium stage systems. With the help of a EUR 65 000 loan from EFL, the Polish subsidiary of Crédit Agricole, via the Polish bank EFL, the company has been able to purchase new machinery to improve product quality. This expansion also translated into employment within the company. 18 young people aged 16-24 have been hired in the past six months, four of whom are dedicated to handling the new technologies from the investment. The company is now channelling their energies into the development of these new employees, capitalising on their willingness to learn to help the business succeed.
Active and experienced supporter
The EIB's efforts to stimulate job opportunities and skills training for Europe's youth build on our lengthy experience and expertise gained in financing both small businesses (SMEs) and the education sector in Europe.
One of the principle constraints for youth employment is the lack of access to liquidity to allow companies, in particular SMEs, to employ, retain and train young workers. The EIB Group boasts significant experience in SME financing, providing finance at favourable conditions to support 200 000 SMEs and mid-caps annually across the EU and Candidate Countries. Although in the past the Bank has not specifically focused on youth employment, lending activities to infrastructure, resource efficiency and knowledge economy projects in 2013 alone directly supported employment for half a million people. In addition, as a direct result of our financing, SMEs and mid-caps are able to sustain employment for two million people every year.
The Bank has also been active in the financing of skills acquisition and development since 1993, improving access to education and training, developing the quality of tertiary education and promoting life-long learning.
The "Skills and Jobs" programme aims to target a wide range of projects in both the public and private sectors which actively promote youth employment measures. Financing of investment, working capital and youth oriented training programmes will all be eligible. Equally, the initiative will foster youth employment programmes promoted by the public sector, such as investment in educational facilities, student loan schemes and young employee mobility initiatives.
Whilst all 28 EU Member States qualify for support, the programme's focus will be on projects located in regions where youth unemployment exceeds 25% and in areas with particularly difficult labour market conditions, including France, the UK and Poland.
Tailored funding packages
The EIB will extend the full range of existing financial products to support the "Skills and Jobs" programme and will work to tailor financing instruments to foster investment in the sector. Both public and private entities with qualifying projects are eligible to apply for financing under the initiative, as are financial intermediaries with the ability to support SMEs. The EIB's financing will support up to 50% of the total project cost, or up to 100% of the project cost for SMEs and mid-caps who receive financing via EIB partner banks.