3. Employment & Entrepreneurship
The issue of youth employment is one of the country’s key public policy areas. High youth unemployment has been a persistent characteristic of the Polish labour market since the regime change in 1989. It brought more opportunities for the education of young people, especially at third level. One contributing factor was the partial privatisation of higher education, which caused a snowballing increase in the number of those institutions. In the first decades of the political transformation, the main action taken by the state for the youth was a policy of counteracting unemployment. Before the accession of Poland to the EU (2004), the youth unemployment rate exceeded 40% and was the highest among Member States (Eurostat), however future years have brought a steady decline in this respect. The lack of jobs and satisfactory career prospects for increasingly better educated young people resulted in mass emigration after the opening of the EU labour market. The mass emigration, the increase in financial outlays for active labour market policies (ALMP) targeted at young people (e.g. from public and European funds), and the growth of jobs in the economy have all contributed to the gradual decrease in youth unemployment.
Since 2016 the situation on the Polish labour market has been gradually improving, with unemployment rates below 10%. Still, the highest unemployment rate is observed in the age group 15-24 years old, however many branches of industry complain about insufficient workforce resources. The Covid-19 pandemic influenced significantly the labour market situation in Poland, especially when it comes to services - a branch employing many young people.