Vilnius, Lithuania. The EU co-funded EU4Youth Phase III Youth Employment and Entrepreneurship programme hosted a study visit to Lithuania inviting representatives from public employment services of the Eastern Partnership countries to get acquainted with the implementation of Youth Guarantee (YG) measures.
The YG scheme aims to secure a smooth transition from school to work, support labour market integration and make sure that no young person is left out. Within YG, every young person in the EU gets “a good quality offer” for work, education, apprenticeship or training within four months of becoming unemployed or finishing their education. Since YG’s implementation in 2013, youth unemployment had reached a record low of 14.9% in the EU in February 2020, shortly before pandemic-related lockdowns were implemented, according to the European Commission.
Lithuania very successfully established cooperation with partners on implementing of Youth Guarantee and now is among the EU countries with lowest youth unemployment. Therefore, the study visit that took place from 19 to 21 September 2023 aimed to provide comprehensive insights and good practice into the design, planning, execution, and subsequent assessment of YG measures across different EU member states and to present lessons learnt.
Since the EU member states rely heavily on their Public Employment Services (PES) to execute YG measures, participants of the study visit representing central administration, regional administration, and professionals directly engaged in youth employment initiatives took a trip to the Lithuanian PES. Here they were presented with the design, planning, implementation and evaluation of YG measures in Lithuania and heard about the practical experience of work with youth in Sweden.
In her speech delivered to the study visit participants, Mrs Inga Balnanosienė, Director of the Lithuanian PES, highlighted that only cooperation with relevant stakeholders, youth organisations and young people themselves can lead to a successful implementation of Youth Guarantee schemes. It is important not only to celebrate success, but also to share challenges with partners.
During the visit to the Regional Career Center in Alytus, participants from the Eastern Partnership countries witnessed how young people receive vocational guidance, make occupational choices and plan their careers in Lithuania, at the same time being guided through various tests and psychological counseling. Collaborative efforts between PES and social partners were showcased as well.
Meeting in Alytus City Municipality highlighted the municipality's role in reaching out to NEETs (Neither in Education, Employment, nor Training) and provided insights into the employment programmes aimed at activating young people and providing support for young entrepreneurs in the labour market.
Meeting in the Ministry of Social Security and Labour touched upon legal issues of YG, focusing on the drafting and implementation of relevant laws and regulations, allocation of financial and human recourses. Further in the meeting Mr Juozas Meldžiukas, Senior Adviser of the Agency of Youth Affairs, explained the institution’s role in the outreach of young people, also how it works with NEETs and cooperates with non-governmental organisations.
“The initiative of the European Commission on Youth Guarantee was very important and support employment of young people in the EU, and now we are glad to share our experience with the EaP colleagues”, said Ms Inga Liubertė, Head of Labour Market Division at the Ministry of Social Security and Labour.
Finally, representatives from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine had an opportunity to visit one of the Lithuanian enterprises to discover practical cases of collaboration between PES and employers in employing young people or orientating them to have traineeship or apprenticeship in green and digital sectors. Furthermore, during the visit the guests learned about the cooperation between PES and training centres in preparing young people according to the needs of labour market, as well as about the importance of social marketing and awareness raising on youth employment and networking with different stakeholders.
Under the scope of the EU co-funded EU4Youth programme public sector representatives of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine will continue building the capacity to support youth employment in the upcoming series of mutual learning activities.
Financed by the European Union and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania, the EU4Youth Phase III Youth Employment and Entrepreneurship programme is being implemented by the Central Project Management Agency (CPVA) in the Eastern Partnership countries, including Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. The initiative will continue its activities until the end of 2025, focusing on providing technical assistance to governmental and non-governmental organisations involved in addressing youth employment and employability.