Youth unemployment in Bulgaria fell from close to 30 per cent in 2006 to 22.7 per cent in 2016, according to figures released on August 11 by EU statistics agency Eurostat.
This meant that Bulgaria had the largest drop in youth unemployment among EU countries in those 10 years.
However, the country is still among the top five worst in terms of youth neither in employment nor in education or training, going by the Eurostat figures.
Although the proportion of young people aged 20-24 neither in employment nor in education or training (NEET, to use Eurostat’s abbreviation) remained relatively stable in the EU as a whole between 2006 and 2016, important changes occurred over the last decade in individual EU countries, Eurostat said.
In 12 EU countries, the NEET rate has decreased, with the most significant reductions registered in Bulgaria (from 29.3 per cent in 2006 to 22.7 per cent in 2016, or -6.6 percentage points – pp), Germany (-5.5 pp), Poland (-3.6 pp), Slovakia and Sweden (both -3.4 pp).
In the other 16 EU member states, the situation has deteriorated.
The largest increases in the proportion of people aged 20-24 neither in employment nor in education or training were registered in Cyprus (from 13.7 per cent to 22.7 per cent, or +9.0 pp), Spain (+8.0 pp), Italy (+7.5 pp), Greece (+6.2 pp), Ireland (+5.1 pp), Romania (+4.7 pp), Portugal (+4.6 pp) and the United Kingdom (+4.2 pp).
Between the ages of 15 and 29, a significant shift from the world of education to the world of employment occurs in the lives of young adults, Eurostat said.
While a vast majority of those in the 15-19 age group in 2016 was in education, the opposite was true for those aged 25-29. Most of them were in employment. In-between, young people aged 20-24 were relatively evenly distributed between being in education and employment.
Moreover, the proportion of young people neither in employment nor in education or training increases considerably with age. The NEET rate, which was 6.1 per cent for the age group 15-19 in 2016, tripled to 18.8 per cent for those aged 25-29.
In 2016, almost one in three young people aged 20-24 was neither in employment nor in education or training in Italy (29.1 per cent), nearly one in four in Romania (23.6 per cent), Greece (23 per cent), Bulgaria and Cyprus (both 22.7 per cent) and about one in five in Spain (21.2 per cent) and Croatia (19.6 per cent).
In contrast, the lowest NEET rate among young people aged 20-24 was recorded in the Netherlands (6.9 per cent), ahead of Malta (8.1 per cent), Denmark (8.5 per cent), Luxembourg (nine per cent) and Sweden (9.3 per cent).
At EU level, the equivalent of the total population of Ireland – almost five million young people aged 20-24 (16.7 per cent) – were in 2016 neither in employment nor in education or training, Eurostat said./IBNA