3.1 General context
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As mentioned in the Cyprus National Reform Programme 2020, Cyprus, like most states, is in a highly challenging period following the outbreak of the COVID-19 crisis. In 2019, the Cyprus economy grew at a great rateof 5,3% and the labour market continued to perform strongly with unemployment, including youth unemployment, declining markedly. The improvement of the quality of the Active Labour Market Policies, particularly for young people is included in the main reform priorities presented in the National Reform Programme. In addition, it is important to state that Cyprus GDP is expected to grow by 4,1% in 2022 (Stockwatch).
Labour market conditions continued to improve in 2019 as a result of the continuous economic growth. Specifically, employment (age 15+) in persons increased by 3.9% (15,600 persons) in 2019 while the employment rate reached 75.7% compared to 73.9% in 2018, meeting the national employment target range (EUROPE 2020, Cyprus National Reform Programme). The employment rate of young people (15-24) decreased by 6,5% to 18,2% in 2020 (Eurostat 2021).
As regards the proportion of young people not in employment, education or training (NEETs) for the age group 20-34, this was 16.4% in 2020 (Eurostat 2021) Young people (15-24) have also experienced a great drop in the unemployment rate which reached the level of 15.10% in 2021 (Trading Economics),. Lastly, the youth unemployment for the age group from 15 to 29 years old is estimated at 13,3% in 2020 (Eurostat 2021), while the youth long-term unemployment rate (12 months or longer) for the age group of 15-29 years old is estimated at 2,6 (Eurostat 2021).
In December 2021, as announced on the official website of the Statistical Service of Cyprus, there were 14.800 registered unemployed people. In particular, according to the latest statistics, there were 78 unemployed under 20 years old, 720 unemployed between 20-24 years old, 1799 unemployed aged between 25-29 years old and 4095 unemployed aged between 30-39 years old (Statistical Service). This indicates that young people represent a significant part of the unemployed population in the country, even though there is great improvement since the previous year.
In Cyprus, every young person from the age of 14 has the right to work, as defined by the Law on the Protection of Young Persons in the Employment. (Ο Περί Προστασίας των Νέων κατά την Απασχόληση Νόμος). However, some young people still find it hard to get a job, especially young people who are not in employment, education or training (NEETs). After the financial crisis, Cyprus continues its efforts to tackle unemployment and modernise and enhance its Public Employment Services (PES) [Δημόσια Υπηρεσία Απασχόλησης (ΔΥΑ)] through the strengthening of its human and technical capacity and also exploring the potential to improve efficiency in service provision, the performance of PES, as well as reinforcing outreach and activation support for young people who are NEETs. At the same time, a significant effort to encourage young people to be engaged in entrepreneurship is put by government.