Youth unemployment in Latvia

This article will show some aspects and possibilities for young people and their integration into the labor market in Latvia.

The following research tasks are set to achieve the aim:
  1. To clarify legal framework of youth unemployment regulation in Latvia;

  2. To find statistics of youth unemployment in 2014;

  3. To analyse statistical data and make conclusions.

Legal framework of youth unemployment regulation in Latvia

The law “International Contracts of the Republic of Latvia”, Article 13, requires that if an international agreement is approved by the Saeima (The Parliament of the Republic of Latvia) and there are other rules set in the legislation of the Republic of Latvia, the rules of international contracts are applied. This means that if there is contradiction between the international and national documents, international document standards are applied.

Statistics of youth unemployment in 2014

According to the European Union (EU) Statistical Bureau “Eurostat” data, Latvia had the highest youth unemployment rate in the Baltic countries. Accordingly, rate of Latvian unemployed youth aged 15 to 24 years was 19.6% and it was the highest rate in the Baltic countries. In average in EU the rate of the unemployed youth was 21.9% aged 15 to 24 years. (1)

DNB Latvian Barometer (research and statistics organization of Latvian society mood and situation in different spheres) in its issue (summer, 2015), expressed the view about the reasons that hinder young people to find work.

Among the main obstacles mentioned are following: employers do not want to hire people without previous work experience (62% of respondents), young people are offered low-skilled work (29% of respondents), poor education (18% of respondents), less indicated that young people do not want to work for the wages offered or young people do not want to work at all.

Statistical Analysis

Analysis of these statistics shows that in general there are two main reasons for youth unemployment. At first, high possibility to get low-skilled job caused by lack of experience. Secondly, we can see not only lack of education, but as well the so-called inappropriate education or wrong choice of education or profession. ElitaDombrava, carrier consultant in State employment agency, indicates that about 60% of all unemployed young people aged 15 to 29 years in Latvia have the so-called inappropriate education or wrong choice of education or profession. (2)

The inappropriate education means that acquired education is not suitable to the interests of the young people. That is why their career choices could been made mistaken. She suggests Latvian youth not to step into higher educational institutions just after the secondary school, but test themselves in different ways of interests and challenges.

The best way of it is to meet somebody who is employed in specific profession. For this reason in Latvia for several years Shadow days are organized. Job Shadow Day is a world-known and recognized by Junior Achievement (career education program 1 to 12th grade students). During the event, students attend a specific occupation and for 4-6 hours observe professional in daily routine. Latvian Shadow Day is the trade mark of business education, registered by association Junior Achievement – Young Enterprise Latvia (JA-YE Latvia). Job Shadow Day aims to introduce students to a variety of professional requirements in order to help young people to choose a profession and properly prepare for the labor market.

Other possibility is to take part into several youth activities and mobility by participation in youth volunteering, non-formal education and youth information programs and projects. Those options in Latvia are offered by Agency for International Programs for Youth. The objective of the Agency is to promote youth voluntary service, activities and mobility. The Agency implements non-formal learning and information programs and projects targeted at youth and those working with youth. Activities support the link between non-formal learning and lifelong education. There are 127 accredited voluntary organizations in Latvia. Daily they inspire hundreds of young people to engage in voluntary work across the Europe, to gain cooperation skills and experience in different specialties.

There are indicators that show that the situation gets better. Since last year, Latvian youth unemployment rate has decreased from almost 20% to 15%. In 2014, 36 000 new jobs have been created for young people. The Ministry of Welfare links it directly with the success of the program called “Youth guarantee”. State financed program “Youth guarantee” is being implemented by Ministry of Welfare in cooperation with State employment agency and supports youth aged between 15-29. The program offers qualified job, apprenticeship, traineeship and education, including educational programs leading to the recognized professional qualification. During the program activities young people are supported by scholarship. “Youth guarantee” provides as well new entrepreneurs with start capital and incubating support. State program “Youth guarantee” has been proved as successful and is ongoing until year 2020.


To sum up, we showed that there are quite a few opportunities and possibilities for the employment of young people in Latvia, but the key is to be informed about them. While the youth unemployment rate in Latvia remains slightly lower that the EU average, its main pitfalls for unemployment are inadequate education or wrong choice of profession. There are several ways in Latvia to prove different experiences and to have a look at different professions daily life. As well if young people is pretty open-minded, he can take a challenge and try different experience abroad Latvia. Any of those possibilities increase the chance to choose the best education and profession for young people.

However, if a young person is ready to prove himself, and, probably from the beginning, work for lower wages. The employers provide for young people the possibility to enter labor market if only they really want to.

Sandra Pereca and Anita Stirane, Latvia

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