The transnational project NEETs in action developed an innovative methodology, based on building community networks, aiming to promote the employability and social inclusion of young people not in education, employment, or training (NEETs) by upgrading their skills, increasing their work experiences and addressing skills mismatches.
According to the intervention model report, integrated individualised and group learning sessions for NEETs (aged 18 to 29) were developed. The project promoted direct interaction among NEETs, employers and various local stakeholders. Local social capital was perceived as a key factor for the social and professional (re)integration of NEETs.
The project started in September 2017 and was completed in October 2020. It was coordinated by CECOA (Centro de Formação Profissional para o Comércio e Afins) in cooperation with partners from Germany, Italy, Spain, the UK and Portugal.
The project methodology was based on existing good practices in the participating countries. According to the impact evaluation report, the preparation phase mainly included the selection of young NEETs and the identification of local stakeholders who formed the networks. The model of intervention was piloted in Italy, Portugal and Spain. Pilots mostly focused on building the community networks and supporting NEETs, for instance through collaborative approaches sharing expertise/knowledge and tailored activities. A total of 53 young NEETs were involved in them. Individual action plans were designed including individual coaching sessions, group sessions and job experiences developing links with the labour market (for example job shadowing and job tours). The developed community networks will be continued to create shared ambition and common understanding in promoting NEETs’ social integration and helping them to gain access to the labour market.
The project included three levels of intervention: micro (young NEETs); meso (professionals/counsellors working with NEETs); and macro level (the overall local, regional or national ecosystem, including the education and training system and the labour market). The evaluation showed ‘a successful application of the model in three different levels with promising outcomes’. Participants had a ‘significant improvement in their employability skills and their awareness of, and preparedness for, employment or training options’, but they did not experience a significant improvement in their quality of life and self-confidence. After completing the programme, 40 participants were in employment, education, or training. ‘More than half of the stakeholders had expanded their network and increased cooperation with others’. The impact evaluation confirms that the intervention model can address the needs of different target groups and communities.
The project also produced the Synthesis report: community networking for NEET integration, a series of national reports presenting good practices promoting social inclusion, a guide for developing community networks promoting social inclusion and employability, a training standard to carry out the intervention model, and a dissemination report.
Some of the key elements that can contribute to achieving sustainability of the project are:
- implementing the intervention model for a longer period;
- further activating and expanding local community networks;
- strengthen the work-based elements of the model;
- improving the correlation of social welfare, training and labour market policies;
- sharing tools and approaches among employment services and social assistance organisations;
- designing regional and national policy measures in cooperation with youth stakeholders including for fighting the pandemic effects;
- further promoting access to VET and entrepreneurship competence.