With 865,000 young people (aged 16-24) in the UK who were not in education, employment or training (NEET) between January and March 2016, there is a continuing need to find solutions to tackle long-term unemployment.
Erasmus+ projects can provide participants with qualifications, skills and competences that enhance their employability. A current Transnational Cooperation Activity (TCA) is looking at the question: exactly how Erasmus+ funding can tackle long-term unemployment?
We caught up with Carla Fyfe (pictured below), chief executive officer of Xchange Scotland and European and international development officer at Achieve More, who recently participated in the beginning stage of this TCA, where both experienced organisations and those new to European Voluntary Service (EVS) came together in Slovenia to discuss employability issues and develop partnerships.
Through a four-stage activity, the project aims to support youth organisations to create opportunities for long-term unemployed young people (aged 18-30) to get involved in EVS.
Here are Carla’s four key learnings from the experience:
1. How we can integrate EVS into employment services
I gained an insight into how we can work further with employment services in the UK to integrate EVS and promote it as an option for young people in their career development. It was motivational to see how other countries use EVS as a stepping-stone to begin conversations and how EVS can provide many transferable skills for participants and be translated into many different things.
2. The impact EVS has on young people and the economy
We looked at the positive impact that EVS has, not only on the lives of the young participants, but also in a wider context. EVS can be a ‘game changer’ for countries where young people participate in it. With young people gaining a wide range of skills and a new global perspective from the experience, the social return can be immense for local communities and national economies. In turn, if more young people engage in this programme, the impact could be even greater.
3. Innovative actions for myself and the team
This activity was a platform to collaborate. Having an international perspective on how we can engage more young people and the opportunity to meet with key people in other European organisations and get to know how they work, has been invaluable. We have created two new projects, with Norwegian and Polish organisations, as an outcome of this training. The projects will focus on engaging young people who are unemployed and have them enter into skills-based volunteering through youth exchanges. The trip has created innovative actions for the Xchange Scotland team to work on and we are looking forward to the journey.
4. How to build my network: they are all just like me!
Along with exchanging passions and sharing stories from past and present projects, we all had a common goal: to increase the level of young people engaging in EVS. This project used experienced EVS organisations to mentor those that are new to its workings and this was an invaluable insight into how our European neighbours work. Just like me, everyone now sees the potential in each other and I now have a network of organisations across Europe that is doing the same thing, powerful indeed!