Love in the Time of Cholera or how to counsel NEETs in the time of the pandemic

Credits: YOUTHShare

How is the famous novel by the Nobel prize awarded author Gabriel Garcia Marquez related to the YOUTHShare project? An undisputed catchy title is only the surface; beyond that, emerge the passion, the strenuous effort and the care for the human fellow.

The Key Account Managers of the YOUTHShare Transnational Employment Centre took on their duties during the most difficult period faced by our societies in recent years. The branches of the Transnational Employment Centre are moreover established in the Southern European countries that are already affected by a deep economic recession. The methodology that they were called to implement, designed in previous stages of the project, entailed a customised counselling strategy with each NEET based on a series of face-to-face meetings.

The Covid-19 crisis and the social distancing measures affects profoundly not only the employability of NEETs but the counselling efforts with them. But the staff of the YOUTHShare Transnational Employment Centre branches in Greece, Cyprus, Italy and Spain, make ends meet driven by their care for the most vulnerable members of our societies. The Key Account Managers facing unprecedented challenges acted immediately to address the hesitation of young people to join the counselling meetings.

Anna Goudi, Key Account Manager of the Greek branch noted the increased dissemination through social media. A Facebook and Instagram campaign launched a constant flow of informative content and increased the awareness of the project among the target group. At the same the branch focused on meetings with stakeholders. The Greek Manpower Employment Organization, the Municipality of Kifissia, the University of Western Attica, the Greek Centre of Social Research, the Cities’ Network were informed agreed to promote YOUTHShare through their networks. “During the last months we managed to organize safely some face-to-face meetings with Greek employers. One of them noted his interest because, new minds bring fresh ideas which are needed nowadays to handle the COVID-19 crisis. The branch operates as a career office welcoming NEETs for counselling, despite the circumstances.

Anna Michael, leading the Cypriot branch as Key Account Manager stressed that the initially plannedface-to-face communication strategy could not be implemented. “This situation, however, made us realise that young people need the services we have to offer to them, now even more. This is why we have intensified our one-to-one meetings with young individuals and/ or groups of young people coming from different youth organisations. Through these meetings, I had the chance to get to know the dreams of a 26-year old African person, to understand the vision of a 25-year old Cypriot person who wishes to start their own business and to listen to the concerns of other young women regarding their future”. The past few months lead the staff of the Cypriot branch to realise that an outreach approach is not only about finding people and meet with them once. An outreach approach is an ongoing process of learning, connecting with people and re-evaluating information in order to adapt to the current reality and grow both at a personal and a professional level.

Credits: YOUTHShare

For the Italian branch the Key Account Manager, Maria Cristina Porfidio, highlights the two-sided outreaching strategy. “It involves at the same time enterprises and organisations dealing with the youth unemployment, in order to collect useful information and feedback for the project implementation. In that framework, we held formal and informal meetings to focus on the development of the branch and establish methodologies that will be institutionalised in long term by the local Private and Public Employment Service. We recorded a proactive response from the business sector and the public employment service”. The Key Account Manager points out, however, the NEETs’ concern about their future after the training and internship programme implementation. Soothing those concerns appears to be the most demanding activity in the near future.

Using a blended interaction method (face-to-face and online) the Spanish branch of the Transnational Employment Centre held its 1stinteraction with stakeholders on the 7thof July. 12 speakers in total attended the meeting, including representative from the Murcia City Council, the two universities of Murcia (UCAM and UMU), the Municipal Initiatives Centre, the Regional Employment Services, the Regional Development Institute, the Labour Union (CCOO), Vocational Trainers and Young Entrepreneurs. Mari Galiana Badenes notes that “during the event we had the opportunity to discuss and talk about the difficulties on job finding for young people, the current crisis. The YOUTHShare project is a good tool, able to strengthen NEETs’ social and emotional skills and to help them integrate in the labour market”.


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