Promoting the values of diversity and inclusion among young people in the labour market is a very important task entrusted to intellectuals, academics and the economic shapers of modern Europe and the world. This diversity is understood not only in terms of culture, but also in terms of ethnicity, gender and gender identity, religion, age, sexual orientation, socio-economic class, and disability. Implementing projects that take these aspects into account has an important impact on developing and strengthening the socio-economic policies of the economy itself. The StayOn project highlights and fosters such impact and values.
The situation of young people on the labour market, dramatically affected by the effects of the ongoing economic and financial crisis, is a serious challenge for the European Union. Nowadays there is a lot of emphasis on the economic development of NEETs and promoting the values of diversity and inclusion among young people in the labour market. Much international action is needed to help spread the wings of young people. The StayOn project, funded by Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway through the EEA and Norway Grants Fund for Youth Employment, serves this purpose. StayOn is a transnational project coordinated through the cooperation of eight European partners whose ultimate objective is to create conditions that enable young people to “stay on” rural areas by ensuring access to opportunities, benefits, services, and jobs without excluding their diversity. StayOn, through coaching and training, allows young people to gain experience. The trainings cover many aspects, such as learning a foreign language, learning to navigate the world of Internet marketing, learning to search information sources and many others that help to discover diversity of the world, thoughts, events, sources of information and what is the most important – the good aspects of diversity of the group.
Diversity refers to the importance of understanding and appreciating the differences between race, ethnic, religion, age and gender groups. Young people between 20 and 29 years old who live in rural areas are more at risk of exclusion, mainly social exclusion. Therefore, the project emphasizes that diversity is an asset to build a society based on different but complementary values. Diversity unlocks innovation by creating a special environment where “outside the box” ideas are heard.
After the implementation of the first phase of the project in Poland, we already have some conclusions and can see how important it is to consider the diversity of our NEETs. After group training sessions conducted with a group of people of different ages, genders, and social, cultural, and religious beliefs, we see that these groups were more effective, better problem solvers as they consider multiple perspectives when approaching a problem. Diverse groups are also more likely to cooperate flexibly as they are quickly able to combine the strengths of individual team members with different backgrounds into a single whole. With greater tolerance and understanding diverse groups can coexist with one another in the same society and work together for the good of the whole community.
Also, the diversity of the project partners and all stakeholders involved is an excellent opportunity as there are plenty of different experiences and knowledge to benefit from.By providing tools for effective intra and inter-project dialogue by project partners, NEETsgain experienced trainers who not only impart sound knowledge but are also sensitive to their diversity and demonstrate the benefits of this diversity for their communities by unlocking potential.
Ahead is the next phase of the project – community catalysis and community co-innovations labs, in which community shapers will take forward important ideas and translate them into real and needed change in their regions in several countries in Europe. In this phase, too, we emphasize the importance of selecting a group in which diversity is preserved as it enriches the impact of our mission.
We believe that the StayOn project makes a real difference not only in giving NEETs knowledge and education, getting a job, but is also a prime example of how important in a group diversity is as the variety of different perspectives represented on a community shapers team.
- Website of the StayOn project: https://www.stay-on.eu/.
- Youth unemployment and the integration of young people into the labour market. Audit reports published between 2013 and 2017, European Union, 2018, p. 11.
- Ewa Krause, The NEET phenomenon – about young people three times nothing, „Problems of Professionology” Polish Society of Profiology nr 2/2016, Zielona Góra 2016.
- Sylvia Ann Hewlett, Melinda Marshall, Laura Sherbin, How Diversity Can Drive Innovation, the Magazine, December 2013.
- Mateusz Smoter, They are not learning and they are not working. Are they a challenge for public policy? Institute for Structural Research nr 03/2019, Warsaw 2019.
Natalia Truszkowska Kamila Wodka
The Polish Farm Advisory and Training Centre
 Website of the StayOn project: https://www.stay-on.eu/
 NEETS: young people not engaged in education, employment or training
 How Diversity Can Drive Innovation, the Magazine, December 2013