Young people who are unemployed have more difficulties to overcome

One in two young people will experience one or more periods of unemployment. Succeeding at school and establishing contacts with the world of work through summer jobs and placements is therefore of great importance for the entry of young people into the labour market. However, there are several obstacles impeding the possibilities for young people to establish a foothold.

Unemployed young people have difficult circumstances

Many young people who find themselves unemployed have many failures behind them and often very little or no experience of working life. Many have mental health problems and live in a difficult social situation. A young person not in education, employment or training may have – and often does have – several problems at the same time.


We asked ESF projects to estimate how common different kinds of problems are among their participants. Their statistics are useful as they often work solely with young unemployed people. The most widespread problem is non-completion of upper secondary education. One in five participants also has reading and writing difficulties that may affect study results. It is hard to say how significant these problems are to entry into the labour market but the unemployment rate differs greatly between young people without and young people with upper secondary education.

Mental health problems, disabilities and drugs abuse

The ESF projects estimate that sixteen per cent of their participants have ADHD problems, a proportion that is over three times greater than corresponding figures for the general population. Almost as many are depressed, representing a major barrier to activity. Problems with drugs and criminality are also fairly common but there are no comparison figures for the general population. A small proportion (approximate one in twenty) has a physical disability.

Young parents find it hard to enter the labour market

Having children when young does not have to be a major problem, but we have known for some time that women who have children very early often find it harder to enter the labour market. One explanation is that their studies are interrupted when the child is born and it then becomes difficult for various reasons to go back to complete them. At the age of 25, only just under a third of young parents have completed their upper secondary education compared with over 80 per cent of other young people.