Bringing new perspectives to the labour market

8 questions about the EEA and Norway Grant’s approach to youth employment

 A unique programme for the EEA Norway Grants is the Fund for Youth Employment. With ‘only’ 25 selected projects, this programme is relatively small – but what it lacks in scale, it makes up for in reach. How? These 8 questions and answers tell you everything there is to know.  

1. What is the Fund for Youth Employment?  

The aim of The Fund for Youth Employment is to empower young people to participate in the labour market. It is part of the EEA and Norway Grants and an addition to the EU funding programme committed to reducing youth unemployment and dedicated to international collaboration. With € 60,6 million, the Fund for Youth Employment supports projects that explore and develop innovative ways to provide young people with the resources, tools, and access to the labour market.  

2. Why do we need a fund like this?  

There are many reasons why some young people do not have access to education, training, or jobs: think for instance about young women with family responsibilities, people with disabilities, or youth living in areas with few schools or job opportunities. This puts them at risk of poverty and social exclusion, and it can have a great impact on their general health, wellbeing and professional future. They are the ones who are most vulnerable, especially in unexpected situations – like for example a pandemic. 

Throughout Europe, this applies to nearly more than 9 million people aged 15-29, and that means it is a European challenge – that should be tackled transnationally by providing access to education, training and jobs. Read more about this in the online Youth Employment Magazine. 

“Millions of young people today are not in employment in Europe. That means that youth employment is a common European challenge that can only be solved by working together across borders.” Raquel Torres Prol, FMO Communication Officer 

3. How is this fund making a difference?  

In total, the Fund for Youth Employment aims to: 

  • Enroll 15 000 young people in education or training 
  • Support 14 000 young people in active job search 
  • Create 3 000 jobs in NGOs, social enterprises and the ordinary labour market 
  • Help 1 800 young people start up their own businesses.

4. What kind of projects does it support?

The fund supports a wide variety of projects that contribute to youth employment, both on practical and on personal levels. This could be the actual development of sustainable jobs; or setting up activities that help young people to become (and stay) motivated. Because the situation is diverse, there is a wide range of initiatives to help young people. 

The three main support areas are:  

  • Innovation and exploration: projects that focus on new solutions to tackle unemployment among and increase the number of sustainable jobs for young people. 
  • Transfer of know-how and good practice: initiatives that enable transfer of know-how and good practice across European countries. 
  • Analysis and research: transnational research networks for evaluating and performing impact studies; as well as joint applications from research institutions planning to increase their capacity by supporting PhD candidates within the field of impact studies.  

Find examples and news in the online Youth Employment Magazine, or visit our programme page for more information. 

“Thanks to the trainers and coaches I was able to plan my goals and even achieve most of them. I did an internship, and then I got a job at a horse farm. I also got trainer qualifications, so now I can teach others how to ride. To those who do not believe that passion can be turned into a way of life, I declare: it is possible!”  

Anita, Participant of the FOLM-project in Poland 

5. What makes this fund unique? 

As said above, this fund complements the European Youth Employment Initiative and therefore acts on a smaller scale than other programmes funded by Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. But what it lacks in size, it makes up for in reach. To make sure the projects benefit those who need them most, they are open to countries that are not in the 15 beneficiary states. The doors are open for partners – academics, private businesses or other organisations – across borders, allowing for a broad geographical spread of projects and participants. This transnational focus is what makes it so unique: it empowers people and organisations across Europe to join forces, combine skills and exchange know-how to reduce youth unemployment.  

“It is extremely important to share ideas to support young people, because each of the institutions I mentioned has some opportunity to reach a particular group of young people looking for a job. By joining forces you can certainly do more.” 

Grzegorz Wolff from YBP, Expertise Partner in the YES-project 

“With ‘only’ 25 projects, it is a bit of a niche fund, but these projects actively support each other, learn from one another and share good practice. What strikes me is the sheer dedication all our lead partners show. This is without a doubt an advantage for the organisations taking part in the projects and, most importantly, for all the young people benefiting from their hard work.” 

Grethe Haugøy, Programme Manager Youth Employment, EEA and Norway Grants 

6. What are the numbers?  

You can download the infographic for a quick overview, but here are some of the numbers in short:   

  • Launch in 2017 
  • € 60.6 million 
  • Generated over 300 project applications 
  • 25 projects in implementation  
  • Participants from 25 different countries  
  • 184 Project Partners 
  • 25 Lead Partners 
  • 127 Beneficiary Partners 
  • 32 Expertise Partners 
  • 15 Donor Countries 
  • 17 Non-beneficiary EU Member Countries 
  • 1 International Organisation 

In her recent blog, programme manager Grethe Haugøy says: “I actively keep an eye on ‘my’ 25 projects and I’m very proud of their achievements so far. [..] Despite the challenges linked to the COVID-19 pandemic, most projects had already reached their initial goals, with some even extending the number of beneficiaries they had set out to reach!” 

These and more results can be found in the EEA and Norway Grants 2019 Status Report. Make sure you stay up to date: the 2020 report will be published in the course of next year. 

7. But is there anything you can say about the current developments?  

Yes, although the official facts and figures will be available in the 2020 Status Report, we can already tell you more. There is a lot happening, on each of the focus areas.  

  • 8 out of 10 projects involve innovative approaches to youth employment. 78% of the project partners feel that they are bringing new perspectives to their target groups.  
  • Knowhow and good practice knowledge was transferred in 74% of the projects. A good example of this is the FOLM-project (From Outdoor to Labour Market), which transferred a proven outdoor learning model to entirely new contexts.  
  • There are many initiatives concerning youth employment, but few of them are evaluated. The Fund for Youth employment has supported quite some baseline studies and analyses, therefore creating added value of transnational data and contributing to research.  

8. Are there more open calls under the Fund for Youth Employment?

On 1 September 2020, a second open call for proposals was launched: €11.5 million available for transnational projects with partners from the 15 Beneficiary States, as well as organisations in Ireland, Italy and Spain. The funding is reserved for initiatives seeking to ensure access to employment, education or training for:   

  • Young people living in small towns, suburbs or in rural areas;   
  • Young mothers  
  • and long-term unemployed people.  

We received more than 130 applications. This success confirms once again, how important it is to keep empowering, supporting and investing in young people through this fund. To select the best project ideas for funding, the applications will now undergo an assessment and a decision on which projects to support will be taken in June 2021. Find out more about the call for proposals here.