The €60 million EEA and Norway Grants Fund for Youth Employment was launched by Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway in 2017 to promote sustainable and quality youth employment in Europe.
Out of the more than 300 project ideas submitted, 27 projects with partners from 25 countries in Europe have now been selected to receive funding.
In total, the projects aim to:
- Make it easier for 25 000 young people to find a job
- Create 3500 jobs in NGOs, social enterprises and the ordinary labour market
- Help 1800 young people start up their own business
Reaching out to vulnerable youth
Assessments of the EU Youth Guarantee scheme show that it has difficulty in reaching certain target groups. Among them are the long-term unemployed, the 25- to 29-year-olds, ethnic minorities and the disabled. The EEA and Norway Grants Fund for Youth Employment focuses on gaps in European funding of youth employment. The projects selected are primarily targeting disadvantaged and hard-to-reach young people from 25 to 29 who are long-time unemployed, poor, low-skilled, from underdeveloped regions or socially excluded.
Vulnerable youth often fall outside the formal education and training systems as well as the ordinary labour market, and there is a great need for innovative solutions, transfer of good practice and impact studies on which interventions work and which do not. The 27 projects will develop, pilot or adopt 90 new approaches, methods and practices, underlining the innovative nature of the Fund.
A project lead by the Autonomia Foundation in Hungary will support equal access to the education and labour market for disadvantaged youth, including Roma, drop-outs and young mothers, by offering career orientation, basic skills development, vocational training and mentoring.
“This is a very exciting project for us. We have been doing a similar project in Hungary, but the novelty of this project lies in the sharing of experience with multiple countries with very different contexts,” said Agnes Kelemen from the Autonomia Foundation. She represents the lead partner in a consortium with four other partners from Spain, Romania and Bulgaria.
Social enterprises and entrepreneurship
The projects will help young people develop skills and prepare them for the labour market. This includes development of soft skills such as resilience, training in basic skills such as ICT, vocational training, work-based learning, mentoring and coaching.
While some projects focus on preparing youth for formal education and training, apprenticeships and transfer to the ordinary labour market, many more seek to develop solutions supplementary to normal pathways. By creating hubs, centres or platforms with training provision specifically relevant for the target groups and making use of NGOs and social enterprises as arenas for work-based learning, these projects acknowledge the shortcomings of formal systems but also respect and make use of young people’s social engagement, interests and creativity. As a result of the funding, 14 300 young people will become enrolled in education and training, and 1750 will be enrolled in apprenticeships or mobility schemes.
Several projects promote entrepreneurship and job creation and link entrepreneurship training to other forms of skills development, networking and stakeholder involvement, mentoring and coaching. The blue and green sectors are overrepresented within the entrepreneurship projects, focusing on alternative tourism, agri-business, food production and opportunities within local culture and community.
Pooling efforts to find new ways to tackle youth unemployment
The projects involve partners from all the 15 beneficiary countries of the EEA and Norway Grants as well as Ireland, Italy and Spain – all countries with high youth unemployment. The projects also include expertise partners from the donor countries Iceland and Norway as well as two international organisations and other EU member states (not beneficiary countries of the EEA and Norway Grants).
Unlike the ordinary programmes of the EEA and Norway Grants, the Fund for Youth Employment has a transnational focus. The main idea of the Fund is to help entities across Europe pooling their efforts to find new ways of dealing with youth unemployment.