“Youths on the edge” are at risk becoming social outsiders with extremely limited chances of achieving a self-sustaining life.
These young people may have made numerous unavailing attempts to complete an education or to achieve employment and find their place in the norm society. Many of them have become “system-resistant” and distrustful even of the professionals who aim to help them.
Appreciative methods and systemic approaches seem to have a positive impact. (Still) isolated attempts in the partner countries send promising signals, and they may become relevant elements of a new way of working across institutional boundaries and for the benefit of the individual.
Needs in the partner countries
In Denmark, new legislation signals a paradigm shift. From 2019, all 98 municipalities are obligated to create “community youth initiatives”, coordinating all professionals who are actively involved in some way with local NEETs. Starting from the lower secondary level, a personal “contact person” will be allocated to each youth, assisting with his/her personal pathway. Local solutions must be developed, meeting the needs of both the NEETs and of society in a sustainable and authentic way.
While Slovenia has lowered its unemployment rate, the country now faces high youth unemployment and long-term unemployment of persons with a low level of education. The reasons are complex and numerous, and so are the needs. “Youth in transition” focuses on the need to improve support of young people when they are making decisions regarding upper-secondary education, as well as developing methods to equip VET students for their transition to work.
In Iceland, there is a growing number of young people with disability pension and/or mental health diseases. The drop-out rate from upper secondary schools is high (approx. 25 %). Thus, early intervention with counselling services and other active labour market initiatives are highly prioritized in the annual strategy of Directorate of Labour.
In Germany, Hamburg is frontrunner and an example for other German states, as to aligning the professionals’ activities and actively taking contact to all NEETs, wherever they are. As in Denmark, the aim is: “No young person must get lost”. Best practice also exists in VET; succeeding with an appreciative approach and a consistent didactic in a consciously designed physical framework. However, broad and consistent implementation is still needed.
The unifying goal for all project partners is their need to improve transitions for their NEETs.
As spearheads in each of their countries, all of the partners are also struggling to improve local practice. Local and national capacity building is needed as a supportive framework, and very few “have been there and done it.”
All in all, mutual inspiration, critical dialogues and research studies are needed. In this case it is in a transnational context, as local and national innovation is still limited.
“Youth in transition” primarily targets the most vulnerable NEETs. These young people have a significant lack of motivation and attitude on the one hand and a lack of relevant skills on the other hand. The individuals are identified locally by the respective professionals in authority in each country. This subgroup of the NEETs are the most ‘hard to reach’ for professionals.
Secondly, cross-sectoral activities will enhance and empower the network for professionals around this particular target group: youth counsellors, educational counsellors, social workers, VET teachers with special tasks, employment counsellors etc.
The profiles of these counselling professionals vary from country to country, and so does the set-up for cooperation and coordination. A common characteristic is that the cross-professional work needs a supportive framework and joint approaches.
Finally, politicians and other decision makers will be encouraged to follow the sustainable implementation.