Spain will devote 3.5 billion euros ($4.67 billion) over the next four years toward efforts to expand economic opportunities for young people and encourage self-employment, the government said Thursday.

The investment, which will be co-financed by the European Social Fund, is part of the 2013-2016 Entrepreneurship and Youth Employment Strategy.

Crafted by the government in partnership with labor and business leaders, the strategy includes 15 short-term measures such as financial aid for youths who want to complete their studies and incentives for firms to hire young people.

Officials and representatives of the CEOE and CEPYME business associations and Spain's two main labor federations, the CCOO and UGT, met in Madrid on Thursday to finalize the plan.

Unemployment in Spain topped 26 percent at the end of 2012 and the jobless rate among people under 25 stood at 55.1 percent.

The Iberian nation is in recession for the second time since the 2008 global financial crisis followed hard on the heels of the collapse of a decade-long property boom. EFE