Europe's lost generation costs €153bn a year, study finds
There is a generation of out-of-work, disengaged young Europeans that cost EU member states €153bn (£124bn) every year, according to new research by EU research agency Eurofound.
Eurofound has discovered that a total of 14 million people in the 15 to 29 age group are not in employment, education or training, costing the EU €3bn per week in state welfare and lost production.
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) said Europe was "failing in its social contract" with the young. The OECD also said that rising political disenchantment could reach levels similar to those that sparked uprisings during the Arab spring.
The research will be presented at a high-level EU presidency employment meeting in Cyprus on Monday, backing the fears of the OECD.
"The consequences of a lost generation are not merely economic," the report warns, "but are societal, with the risk of young people opting out of democratic participation in society."
The research showed that the number of young adults in work across the 26 EU member states is at the lowest on record.
Paul Gregg, professor of economic and social policy at Bath University and an expert in the effects of long-term unemployment, said that according to his own study in the UK, the EU report's stated annual costs could rise significantly. "For young people, the time when you're gaining the experience and skills which lead to rapid advancements in your earning potential really focuses between 18 and 30.
"[So] if you're out of work for a year or so, what you're doing is forgoing that experience, so you are permanently delayed. When people are in their 30s they don't catch back up [with peers] who don't have that absence from the world of work."
Peter Matjasic, president of the European Youth Forum said: "The Nobel committee talk of the success of the 'European dream' and European leaders this week spoke about strengthening it. But without investing in youth now, it is in danger of becoming a lost dream."
The UK education department said: "The number of young people who are not in education, employment or training is still too high. We are determined to tackle this. We are spending a record £7.5bn on education and training for 16- to 19-year-olds this year."
It added that reforms in education by the coalition would "create a world-class education system that will equip young people properly for both higher education and skilled, sustainable employment".