The soaring jobless total among youngsters has led the government to appoint a special youth employment tzar to focus on helping the under-25s into work.
Last month, the government said it was to invest €50m in schemes to bring down youth unemployment in 2013 and 2014, after new figures showed the jobless rate among youngsters is now above 15%.
Employment minister Lodewijk Asscher announced on Wednesday that former Christian Democrat MP Mirjam Sterk has been given the job of overseeing the efforts. Describing the post as a ‘fantastic job and a difficult challenge’, Sterk said she would focus in particular on increasing the availability of internships and apprenticeships.
One way of helping youngsters into work could be local authority grants to help finance work-experience places, she said. ‘This will increase their opportunities in the labour market when the economy improves,’ Sterk is quoted as saying by Nos television.
‘If we don’t tackle youth unemployment now, we will have to pay the bill later,’ Sterk said.
Earlier this week, the FNV trade union federation suggested bringing back a variant of part-time early retirement to free up jobs for younger workers. ‘It is about coming up with creative and innovative ways of letting people build up experience,’ Dennis Wiersma of the FNV’s youth wing said.
The Dutch youth unemployment rate has doubled since the start of the economic crisis in 2008 but is still one of the lowest in Europe.