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A Decalogue on Youth Employment in Europe Declined in 26 Projects
Youth Employment is arguably one of the main societal challenges in Europe, the “zero zone” of the future of our model of society and economic development. As such, it is a multifaceted challenge, requiring multidimensional strategies to cope with it. The 26 projects funded under the EEA and Norway Grants Fund for Youth Employment, all described in Issue 1 of our Youth Employment Magazine, duly reflect this multidimensionality.
NEETs.Young people “Not in Education, Employment or Training” (NEETs) are the true black hole of European societies, to the point of having become a widely used neologism and even being included in dictionaries over the last ten years. This is why not less than 14 of the 26 projects funded under our programme specifically address the needs of this group of young people with different tools and approaches: SOCIALNEET, eNEET Ruralas well as A Place for Youth in Mediterranean EEA: Resilient and Sharing Economies for NEETs, Direction Employment, NESET, Blue Generation Project, Social Innovators, FOLM, IPS4NEETs, DARE – Day One Alliance for Employment, European Digital Bootcamps (EDIBO), Supporting Employment Platform through Apprenticeship Learning – SEPAL, Rural Action for Innovative and Sustainable Entrepreneurship for Youth (RAISE Youth), Active Youth Entrepreneurship Network (AYEN) and NEETs in entrepreneurship.
Training for Employability. Employability is another term which has gone mainstream in all social, political and academic debates on youth employment, and training and education is its cornerstone. Most of the 26 projects have a training component, but eight of them specifically focus on training or on innovative education models, including: Direction Employment, creating and testing an educational model with an experimental and innovative curriculum, establishing a mobile classroom model to train trainers at regional level and applying assessment tools to demonstrate the impact of the methodology on the participants as well as on their close environment, and FOLM, testing the University of Edinburgh’s “Model for social and personal growth through Outdoor Learning” in Ireland, Poland and Spain. One (Supporting Employment Platform through Apprenticeship Learning – SEPAL) uses apprenticeships as an employment promotion tool, and another prioritizes the validation of non-formal skills for NEETs (DARE – Day One Alliance for Employment). Four other projects focus on training to master new technologies in the digital era, aiming to drive the transformation of the world of work – and of our societies: CODE (Competence Opportunities for Digital Employment) offers an innovative training programme on digital design and skills, graphics, 3D animation, game design etc. for vulnerable young people who otherwise cannot afford to obtain a hi-tech education due to poverty (young people in rural areas, young single parents, young graduates at risk of poverty, orphans out of social protection and children of working poor people), European Digital Bootcamps (EDIBO) applying the “Rapid Technology Skills Training” developed by the World Bank in close cooperation with employers; Mommypreneurs provides training in e-commerce and web design to young mothers, and Women4IT (Young-ICT Women: Innovative solutions to increase the numbers of EU vulnerable girls and young women into the digital agenda).
Entrepreneurship.Although not all young people can become entrepreneurs, the last twenty years have shown that entrepreneurship is definitely part of the solution to youth unemployment. This is why a few of the projects specifically point to this dimension of youth employment policies: Young Entrepreneurs Succeed (YES, Scaling trust-based partnership models to recharge youth entrepreneurship: Supporting underserved communities with innovative entrepreneurship support instruments), but also Migrant Talent Garden, DARE – Day One Alliance for Employment (with its Youth Entrepreneurship Labs), Active Youth Entrepreneurship Network (AYEN) and NEETs in entrepreneurship.
Young Workers AND engaged citizens. But young people cannot be reduced to their economic dimension as workers, and in addition to ensuring smooth integration into the labour market it is equally important to combine that with their identity as persons and citizens. Several projects try to combine both aspects, for instance by promoting the non-governmental sector as an attractive working and learning environment for young people (Social Innovators) or promoting so-called social entrepreneurship, facilitating engagement in the social economy or civil society as a way of life and a way to employment (SOCIALNEET-From civil society organizations to social entrepreneurship. Combating youth unemployment and addressing the needs of NEETs, but also A Place for Youth in Mediterranean EEA: Resilient and Sharing Economies for NEETs and Supporting Employment Platform through Apprenticeship Learning – SEPAL, using the WISE model – Work Integration through Social Enterprise.
Sectoral approach. Specialization and expertise are the sign of the times, and in the field of youth employment this often requires a bottom-up approach focused on specific sectors or value chains. This is why several of our projects take a sectoral approach, focusing on the specific needs of specific sectors such as food production and waste management (A Place for Youth in Mediterranean EEA: Resilient and Sharing Economies for NEETs), the agricultural sector (eNEET Rural), the tourism sector (NESET, NEETs’ Empowerment for Sustainable Employment in the Tourism Sector), the fishing and maritime sector (Blue Generation Project) or the energy and green sector (Yenesis, Youth Employment Network for Energy Sustainability in Islands).
Rural areas are often left behind in public employment policies in our increasingly urban societies, and rural young people count among the most vulnerable in terms of employment. A few other projects seek to change this reality: eNEET Rural: Facilitating entrepreneurship and improving skills of NEETs living in rural areas and Rural Action for Innovative and Sustainable Entrepreneurship for Youth (RAISE Youth). Here we should also mention CODE, which offers training for digital employment, among others, to young people in rural areas.
Genderapproach is a key to employment policies offering real equal opportunities for young women and men, attending to the specific needs of vulnerable young women. Several projects highlight this issue: Mommypreneurs, Women4IT (Young-ICT Women: Innovative solutions to increase the numbers of EU vulnerable girls and young women into the digital agenda), and A Place for Youth in Mediterranean EEA: Resilient and Sharing Economies for NEETs targeting among others inactive low-skilled women.
Migrant youth and youth with migrant backgroundare another key variable of the youth employment equation in Europe, as they face special difficulties in integrating into the labour market. More than half of the almost four million refugees who have arrived in Europe since 2015 are young people. This is the target group of projects including Migrant Talent Garden, as well as A Place for Youth in Mediterranean EEA: Resilient and Sharing Economies for NEETs and Supporting Employment Platform through Apprenticeship Learning – SEPAL, both of which, among other vulnerable groups, also target migrants.
Specific support for those with specific needs. Like the projects dealing with NEETs, vulnerable young people or rural young people, two other projects reflect the “Leave-no-one-behind” principle anchored in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals by endeavouring to widen the work prospects of people with disabilities: LEAD (Labour market employment for young adults with a disability) and L.I.K.E. – Life Investment is the Key to Employment for young people with mental health problems and minority groups. Supporting Employment Platform through Apprenticeship Learning – SEPAL also targets young people with disabilities, Roma and migrants. Find your way to the world of work, in turn, aims to improve the chances of disadvantaged youth and Roma to get an education and a job. All these projects reflect a basic tenet of employment policies: to design specific support measures to deal with groups with specific needs.
Evidence-based youth employment policies. Finally, two other projects deal with the basic due diligence of any public policy: evaluating policy performance, gathering evidence on policy impact and collecting good practices to improve policy results over time. All 26 projects involve partners from several European partners and hence engage in the transnational exchange of expertise and mutual learning, but Youth Impact specifically aims to increase the capacity of NGOs and public and private institutions to carry out impact studies of youth employment and entrepreneurship initiatives, and Youth employment partnershipwill conduct evaluation studies of youth employment initiatives in Spain, Hungary, Italy and Poland. Several other projects have a test or pilot approach, developing innovative and experimental tools to fight youth unemployment: Young Entrepreneurs Succeed (YES), NESET, European Digital Bootcamps (EDIBO), which tests a model to strengthen the ICT skills of young NEETs.
So the 26 projects selected for funding provide a kind of alphabet of existing initiatives, addressing the challenge of youth unemployment throughout Europe. Together, they can also be read as a decalogue to pursue for practitioners.
Our Spanish Youth Employment Expert