Our experience as a beneficiary partner in the Lost Millennials project. Lessons learned: challenges and opportunities.

In 2022, the 25+ NEET rate was 15.7% in the European Union (Eurostat, 2023). Although it experienced an increase in 2020 due to the pandemic, the rate has declined significantly in the last few years. Nevertheless, the rates of 25+ NEETs vary across countries raising to 17.1% in the case of our country, Spain.

The Lost Millennials project focuses on this specific group of 25+ NEETs. The project was launched in November, 2021 — when our experience as a beneficiary partner started (#ourstories) — and is planned to finish in January 2024. The more than two years of this project have led to specific results after examining the situation of 25+ NEETs in 13 countries and after mapping and analysing the national policies and initiatives of each beneficiary partner targeting this group of NEETs (see our webpage). Besides these interesting results, this project has not been without challenges, together with opportunities as well as other indirect outcomes.

In our view, one of the key strengths of our project is the heterogeneous academic background of the members and partners of the project, ranging from the fields of sociology to policy, economics, and even business. Although not without challenges in the early stages, this wide range of backgrounds has enabled an interdisciplinary approach to research, and has allowed us to have a more holistic approach that considers the situation of 25+ NEETs from many different perspectives: education, market labour entry, gender, disability, health issues, or work-life reconciliation policies.

The kick-off meeting was planned in Budapest in December 2021, but the pandemic did not allow us to hold this first meeting in person. Despite the first difficulties in developing strong relations – social capital – between partners, our first in-person meeting held in June 2022 in Bodo, Norway could be considered a turning point in the evolution of our project. From this first in-person meeting, the development of stronger relationships between partners has been key to the success of the collaboration in defining the framework for common research.

In these two years, the project has allowed the development of a strong network of researchers and provided indirect outcomes, such as the mobility of researchers between the institutions of partners. As an example, the Lost Millennials project has given our institution, Universidad de Burgos, the opportunity to invite one partner member from the Czech Republic (IREAS) for a research stay in which a colleague could study employment variables in Spain to further her PhD studies. Moreover, we plan a visit of another member of IREAS as an invited lecturer in the next months. The project has also allowed our institution to develop an Erasmus+ agreement for the exchange of students with another beneficiary partner (Sapientia University from Romania).

In addition to the network created among the project partners, Lost Millennials has allowed us to create synergies with other projects. Specifically, we have got in touch with researchers and young entrepreneurs taking part in the training programme Explorer (Santander Bank) in Burgos (Spain) by taking part in one of their meetings and looking for potential collaborations.

Our participation as partners in Lost Millennials has also allowed us to contact experts and policymakers involved in addressing the situation of 25+ NEETs. Indeed, the National Coordinator of Youth Guarantee in Spain joined us in Malta for the stakeholder peer-review forum to share the main insights on our research. From this first meeting together, we built a relationship that continues so far and will bring a common participation in a national event that will take place in Burgos in December 2023.

In the online part or the social networks of Lost Millennials, we administered the project’s social media channels[1] for a few months in the early stages of the project. Since the main outcomes of research were still in progress, we faced the challenge of creating content for posts from scratch. However, this content creation was also an opportunity to share views and reports from other institutions analysing youth employment and experiences such as Oxfam International.

When creating and exploring a common ground on research, we found that 25+ NEETs are a heterogeneous group, and this heterogeneity is related to country-specific factors. Whereas in some countries (such as Malta or Czech Republic) the NEET phenomenon is related to low qualifications and early school leaving, in other countries like Spain, the training system is biased downwards and upwards: there is a high number of NEETs with a low level of educational attainment, but there is also a high number of overqualified people. Further, while in some countries the NEETs phenomenon is related to health issues and social exclusion (such as Finland and Malta), in others like Spain, only a minority of NEETs are not interested in seeking employment and most of them are available and actively searching for employment.

Overall, we are grateful for the opportunity to participate in the Lost Millennials project, which has allowed us to better understand the situation and the policies and initiatives targeting 25+ NEETs, as part of the broader group of NEETs – which in Spain is defined with an age range of 16-30 years old. We expect that the results of our research will be valuable for experts and policy makers in other to reduce the 25+ NEETs rates in Spain and in the rest of the European countries.


Prepared by colleagues of Universidad de Burgos

[1]On Facebook and LinkedIn


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