XXIst century, called the century of speed, changed many lives with the technology development. This evolulution makes possible to get close and connect with people that live thousands of miles away with just one click. Digital skills have become essential nowadays, greatly contributing to the development of the society. Due to the Internet, we can ”Google’’ everything, because information is unlimited and in a few seconds we can find the data we need for an optimal development of our professional pathway and for other several aspects of our life. Moreover, with the help of the Internet and the skills needed to use it, we can identify professional opportunities, we can read the reviews about the companies that provide certain jobs, and perhaps the most important aspect, we can identify the right career for each of us by reading information about different areas of activity.
Due to the difficult epidemiological period we are going through, our work within the SEPAL project has shifted from face-to-face meetings to online communication to keep both us and the NEETs safe. In this regard, we had to adapt to a new approach through which we could continue the progress within the project.
These being said, within the SEPAL project, we paid attention to an important aspect about the NEETs: their level of digital skills. Along with its partners (Pere Closa from Spain, ZISPB from Lithuania, KoiSPE Diadromes from Greece and Collegium Balticum from Poland), the leading partner, Bucovina Institute from Romania is working on changing the status of the NEETs registered within SEPAL, from unemployed to ”in apprenticeship”, ”learning on the job” and ideally, after six months, to ”employed’’. Due to the target of the project, which concerns the employment of at least 60 people from each partner country, we assumed that people with digital skills are more likely to be accepted for a particular job and they can easily integrate into the labor market.
One important aspect that we checked in this regard, besides the vocational counseling that provides us relevant specific information about each NEET, was to see if the young people registered within our project have an e-mail address that is being used frequently. In this regard, we collaborated quite a lot with the NEETs via e-mail, through which we sent relevant information about the project, the necessary documents, useful changes in the CV, the certificates at the end of the program, and so on. We also kept in touch with many people that are part of the project through mobile applications, such as WhatsApp and we found out that most NEETs have an account on this application. However, we needed an overview, measurable and observable, of the possession of digital competences of the subjects involved in the project. Thanks to the statistics that we weekly update, we are able to keep an up-to-date record of people who have an e-mail address. Having this indicator, we are able to report the success rate of people who managed to get a job and their digital skills.
Out of the total number of people registered in the project so far (1117), only 956 NEETs are in the target group (the age range set in the project is 24-29 years). Out of this number, only 665 people have an e-mail address and can be contacted by it. This number represents a percentage of 69.78% from the total number of 956 eligible people (we will refer only to the number of eligible persons to meet the project indicators). Even though it is not a small percentage, we note that about 30% of the NEETs do not have an e-mail address, which may indicate a low degree of use of the technology. In terms of percentages for each partner country in the SEPAL project, we observed that Spain has the highest rate of NEETs that possess an e-mail adress (92,57%), closely followed by Lithuania (92,34%), then Greece (65,52%), Poland (52,74%), and Romania (48,62%).
Later on we looked in a more detailed manner at the people who started a professional program (apprenticeship, learning on the job or employment) and we checked what is the percentage of the people that have an e-mail address. Out of the total number of people in the target group (956), 230 people were helped (either they started an apprenticeship program – 147 NEETs or they started the learning on the job program – 60 or they are already employed – 23). Regarding the percentage of people who started the apprenticeship program, 78.23% have an e-mail address (115 people in the target group out of a total of 147). In the learning on the job program, 52 people out of 60 have an e-mail address, which represents a percentage of 86.6%. Regarding the NEETs that have the ”employed” status (23 young people), only one person does not have an e-mail address, which means that 95.65% of the employees have a valid one. These percentages provide us relevant information on the degree of employability of the NEET category in relation to their digital competencies.
As we have assumed, people with digital skills are more likely to find a job and pursue the desired professional career. The numbers from the statistics speak for themselves and a significant increase can be clearly detected from the apprenticeship program to learning on the job and furthermore to the employment status.
However, we can not jump to conclusions until the end of the program, when we will have a much clearer picture of the situation thanks to the higher number of employees and then we will report the rate of employability according to the email addresses of the NEETs. Until then, all we can do is support the people in the program to develop useful digital skills for their future employment and integration into the labor market.