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Welcome to DayPlot

DayPlot is the acronym for the Erasmus+ Project, ‘Diagnosis and Actions for Young People Looking for a Better Future’; DayPlot begins from Recommendation 2006/962/CE of the European Parliament and Council. This sets out the 8 Key Competences for Lifelong Learning, each one underpinned by: Personal Development, Active Citizenship, Social Inclusion and Employment. DayPlot aims to use this framework to help disadvantaged young people who are not in education, employment or training (often described as NEET). Additionally, DayPlot because of ICT for Learning has a strategic fit with at least 3 priorities of the Programme, (Inclusion, Key Competencies for VET, Digital Era)

DayPlot targets the range of professionals who work with disadvantaged young people such as, Teachers, Careers Guidance Officers, Employment Office Advisors, VET centres/trainers. The final project beneficiaries are young disadvantaged young people, specifically (but not exclusively) those who are NEET or young Migrants. The key project stakeholders are organisations involved in the promotion of inclusion; VET Schools, Public Employment Agencies dealing with NEET young people/reception of migrants and Trades Unions and Enterprises.

DayPlot will use Gamification as the model to support professionals to engage disadvantaged young people to improve their employability and access to the labour market. For further information refer to the Partnership Workplan.

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Introduction by Professor Robin SimmonsUniversity of Huddersfield

Youth employment in Europe: looking for a NEET solution

Youth unemployment is a matter of significant international concern and rates of economic inactivity amongst young people in Greece, Spain and Italy now almost match those which have long characterised the Middle East and North Africa. Although the situation is less severe elsewhere, still almost one in five 16-24 year olds in the UK is classified as NEET (not in education, employment or training) and unemployment is markedly higher among young people than is the case for adults in Germany, the Nordic nations and other parts of Europe. This is, of course, problematic in various ways. Young people who spend significant periods of time outside education and work tend to be more vulnerable to social isolation, loss of confidence and low self-esteem; they are more likely to become young parents; and to suffer various forms of illness, including anxiety, depression and other forms of debility. They are also more prone to long-term unemployment, and those who have experienced substantial or repeated episodes of being NEET are more likely to be in low-paid and insecure work if they are able to find a job. There is, in other words, a significant ‘scarring effect’ associated with being NEET. There are, however, also significant societal costs associated with all this, not only in terms of increased benefit payments and lost tax revenues but also in relation to lower economic outputs and reduced consumer activity.

Populist stereotypes often present youth unemployment as deriving largely from individual shortcomings or the reluctance of some young people to find work – and those who spend substantial periods of time being NEET are more likely than other young people to be involved in crime, drink and drug abuse, and other forms of anti-social behaviour. It must, however, be recognised that even seemingly highly-individualistic traits are often related, at least in part, to broader opportunity structures, social and economic deprivation and the availability of paid work, as much as to any intrinsic personal characteristics. Whilst the NEET population can include unemployed graduates, young people waiting to begin a job, or students ‘taking a year out’ from their studies, those from families which suffer from poverty and other forms of social and economic disadvantage are particularly vulnerable to becoming NEET, and to spending sustained periods of time outside education and work.

Other commentators focus mainly on ‘structural’ issues when trying to explain the NEET phenomenon - or, in other words, questions about the economy and its effects on youth employment. In some ways this is understandable and NEET rates shot up after the global economic crisis which began in 2008. However, declining labour market opportunities for young people go back long before the crisis. Across Europe, worklessness has been higher for young people than adults since the 1980s, and NEET rates began increasing noticeably from the early-2000s - although they did accelerate after 2008. Nor has youth employment fully recovered even where economic conditions have improved over time. Arguably then, the ‘Great Crash’ of 2008 represented an intensification of existing trends as much as a new juncture, and there has been a long-term decrease in employer demand for young people’s labour in most Western nations. This, in part, relates to the relocation of much manufacturing to the Pacific Rim or other parts of the globe, or else the introduction of new technology and other ways of restructuring the labour process. It is also linked to migration patterns and to growing competition from ‘women returners’ and other mature workers, which has had the effect of squeezing many young people out of ‘entry-level’ jobs.

What then can be done to help young people who find themselves classified as NEET? Whilst there is no ‘silver bullet’ solution, policymakers, practitioners and young people themselves are not powerless in the face of social and economic change. On one hand, politicians determine economic policy both nationally and internationally, and labour and product markets can be managed in different ways. This influences not only the number of jobs available in any given location but also the nature of such employment – in terms, for example, of skill, tenure and security. Policymakers are, of course, also responsible for education and training, and the way such systems articulate with the labour market has far-reaching consequences, perhaps especially for young people. It is, on the other hand, important to recognise that young people’s orientation to education and work also affects their employability, and that targeted initiatives and interventions can often make a difference to individual success in the labour market.

Research also suggests that the way in which practitioners engage with NEET young people can have a substantial impact. Those who are prepared to ‘go the extra mile’ to support a young person – to be an advocate, a mentor or offer other forms of support – can and do make a material difference to marginalised young people. Here, a great example is the CO-MENT project run by GEMS in Northern Ireland. Using customised mentoring, available for young people 365 days a year ‘around the clock’, CO-MENT has been recognised as an initiative which has made a real difference to many excluded young people by going beyond traditional models of vocational training, and advice and guidance. There is, however, further scope to develop creative and innovative approaches, and Project Day Plot offers new possibilities through using technology to engage young people whose needs are not being met through mainstream education and training via gamification. This is potentially exciting – both in terms of providing young people with opportunities to develop specific skills and knowledge and in raising levels of commitment and motivation more generally. Young people referred to as ‘hard to reach’ have often had negative experiences of school and repeated failure thereafter. New and innovative approaches are therefore required in order to re-engage the most marginalised – both for the good of the individual and society more broadly.

Professor Robin Simmons

University of Huddersfield
ROBIN SIMMONS

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