The European Commission launched a €4 million pilot project on Monday (21 May) to help 5,000 young people find jobs in other EU countries.
With youth unemployment twice as high as the EU average, the initiative aims to help balance out the mismatch between skills found in one country and demand in another.
One in eight under 25s is either not employed, in school or in a training programme. "The risk is seeing a generation go to waste," warned EU employment commissioner Laszlo Andor last week.
Employment agencies in Spain, Germany, Denmark and Italy will run the pilot project, called 'Your first Eures Job,' but young people from any member state can use its services.
"Any young person between the ages of 18 and 30 interested in working in another EU country can apply," said Andor’s spokesperson.
Applicants, selected by employment agencies from the four member states, will also be entitled to funds covering, for example, travel expenses of up to €300.
They can also obtain up to €900 to help pay for moving costs should they relocate. Small companies can also apply for financial support to cover training costs of up to €900.
The scheme is part of a larger reform to transform Eures - the network of member states' employment services - into a pan-European employment agency by 2013. Job placement must be a minimum six months.
The European Youth Forum (YFJ), a Brussels-based platform for national youth councils and international non-governmental youth organisations, told EUobserver that the pilot project is a step in the right direction but other more critical issues such as quality traineeships remain unresolved.
"In general we see this as an interesting initiative, however, it's only a pilot," said Giuseppe Porcaro, YFJ’s secretary-general.
The YFJ said the commission's 'Youth Opportunities Initiative,' launched as part of its larger employment package in April, has yet to demonstrate any real progress or new commitments.
The organisation wants to see a guarantee on youth employment ensuring everyone under 25 would not remain unemployed for more than four months. The commission proposed giving €4 million to member states to set up such schemes but Porcaro said concrete details on the commission's plan are missing.
Meanwhile, Germany risks facing a massive skilled labour shortage. Frank-Jurgen Weise, head of the Federal Labour Agency (BA), said in an interview published in the Die Welt newspaper earlier this month that Germany in the next few years needs around 2 million qualified foreigners to avoid a labour crunch.
Tens of thousands of Spaniards and Greeks have already migrated to Germany.
Last week, Germany's Federal Bureau of Statistics revealed a jump of Spanish and Greek migrants in 2011 compared to 2010 - around 24,000 Greeks settled in Germany, a 90 percent increase from 2010 and some 52,000 Spaniards moved to Germany, representing a 52 percent increase over 2010, said the bureau.
Spanish people are also seeking new opportunities in Belgium. Nurses, trained in Spain are moving to Flanders to fill vacant posts. A handful will soon complete Flemish language courses in Madrid before moving to Flanders near the end of the year, reports the De Morgen newspaper.
The latest report by the European vacancy monitor, issued by the commission in April, shows the overall labour demand throughout most of the EU is slowing.
The commission attributed the decline to the "deterioration in the economic situation and the continued implementation of austerity measures."
Separately, the commission will issue recommendations at the end of the month on how member states can introduce reforms into the labour market to reduce unemployment.