The gap between young people who study and participate in social life and those who do not, and are at risk of exclusion, is widening. This can damage the social fabric and the long-term economic growth of the European Union, according to the European Youth Report 2015, released earlier this week.

The study, which includes three documents prepared by the European Commission, reviews the situation of young people and the youth policies implemented in the EU since 2013.

Among other data, it reveals that 8.7 million young people aged 15 to 29 are unemployed and that 13.7 million are NEETs, i.e. they are not in education, employment or training.

In addition, the report indicates that nearly 27 million young people are at risk of poverty or exclusion.

Poverty rates are highest among young people than among the general population and involuntary long-term part time or temporary employment “expose this generation to the risk of poverty in the long term,” says the study.

Young people who are starting out in life with fewer opportunities tend to accumulate disadvantages and those who come from migrant backgrounds, have low educational levels or suffer health issues “have greater possibilities of becoming NEETs”.

In fact, unemployment among young people born in the EU of immigrant parents is 50% higher than among other young people.

Consequently, the report stresses the need to offer more educational opportunities and support for employment as a way of responding to the risk of marginalization and radicalization.

Although the EU has taken measures since 2013 to support young people, especially regarding employment; more assistance is needed for their integration given the risk of exclusion, according to the report.

“This requires the systematic cooperation between policies and actors” under a broad approach that reflects the scale of the challenge ahead, it adds.

In particular, it considers that it is necessary to “strengthen the links between sport and education to increase social inclusion and the skills of young people”, and their ability to find work.

The European Commissioner for Education, Tibor Navracsics, says that “in spite of being better educated, informed and connected than their parents, almost one third of young Europeans are in risk of poverty and social exclusion”. “We cannot afford to leave them behind. We have to work to enable all young people to find their place in our society and help to build a more open and tolerant Europe”, he adds.