1 Sep 2015 - 1 Sep 2018

Shortening Distance to Labour Market for young people with risk for unemployment and social exclusion -  Distance Education for Coordinated Measures by Regional Stakeholder Networks

Annual Growth Survey (AGS) from 2014 shows that the unemployment among young adults within the age 18 – 30 years is one of the main socioeconomic problems in the European Union since economic regression 2009. It reached 23.4 %-more than twice as high as the adult rate, with some 5.7 million young people affected. Young people that have only completed lower secondary education bear the highest risk of unemployment. In 2012, the EU average youth unemployment rate was 22.8 %, but reached 30.3 % for low-skilled youth.

In Communication “Moving Youth to Employment” 2012, the Commission states that the main problem regarding youth employment is a weak school-to-work transition. This depends on 2 reasons: a)employers are not willing to invest in future workforce and are usually focusing on current needs of the company; b)there is a lack of cooperation/coordination between different stakeholders in the region working with education, counselling and employment of young adults. The above makes career counselling services ineffective and job placements are not adapted to individual education and capacity as well as to regional employment needs.

In daily services there are many organisations involved in the process of education, counselling and employment for young people: Adult Education, VET, municipalities, PES, NGOs, etc. All these organisations use their own methods for career counselling and job placements. Since there is no coordination between them, the same guidance services are provided to one person several times or good services are offered at wrong moments. Moreover, in most of EU countries there is lack of professional standard and training for the professionals in the area of career counselling.

The consequence is de-motivation and loss of self-esteem among young adults. At the system level the lack of cooperation leads to: a) mismanagement of public funds on repetitive measures, b) inability to track results and thereby possibility for evaluation of provided services; c) disappearance of young adults from public system such as municipal welfare or PES system into black market. Eurofound estimates that in 2011, the cost of young people’s unemployment was the equivalent of 1.21% of GDP, i.e. an annual loss of €153 billion for the EU. Conclusion is that the main condition for improving accessibility of young adults to employment is through engagement of the whole regional stakeholder networks (including employers) into guidance process in order to offer reality-based tailored learning/career opportunities to them.

Despite existing political vision for strategic cooperation and joint actions for better employment in all EU countries the practical implementation remains a challenge. This partnership developed a 2-step strategy to tackle this challenge for the target group immigrants. 1: Development of methodology for effective cooperation of regional stakeholder networks for improving integration possibilities of immigrants (igma1:2011). 2: Development of curricula for in-class training of stakeholder networks based on igma methodology (igma2:2013).

Those projects became best practices leading to changes at system level in all partner countries through the established cooperation of regional networks working with immigrants. There is also a training program provided at yearly basis for competence-development of the networks with focus on immigrants. The implementation of igma in ESF project in Sweden led to 73 % of employment of long-term unemployed immigrants (60-70 % in all partner countries). Success factor of the above projects was the approaching of the problem through improvement of services of professional networks rather than through direct measures to the target group. Direct measures are difficult to sustain.

During igma2 stakeholder networks in all partner countries demonstrated a clear need to adapt igma methodology to the other priority target group, young adults.  This is the main objective of igma3. The 2nd objective is to adapt the existing igma curricula to specifics of counselling for young adults and to make a bigger focus on involvement/training of employers. Moreover, the curricula will be delivered to professionals/employers as distance training through Moodle.

This project is of transnational character first of all because unemployment of young adults is European challenge. Training of regional networks and setting up best practices for career counselling of young adults is in line with European Commission agenda (Youth Opportunities Initiatives,2011) supporting stronger stakeholder partnerships for creating more employment opportunities for young adults”. The solution developed by this partnership for inclusion of"target group"immigrants has proven to be sucessful in all partner countries thanks to inclusion of European experience and know-how, further-adapted to local situation. igma3 is initiative of stakeholders and decision-makers  according to the same concept.

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