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Knowledge bank to help young outsiders

| Gunhild Wallin

By 2013 the European Solidarity Foundation (ESF) will have funded 1,000 projects in Sweden alone aimed at young workers and those who fall outside the labour market. The resulting know-how is taken further by The Swedish National Board for Youth Affairs and the Employment Service with their project "Young Workers".

"We want it to be a learning process building on experiences from the many different [ESF] projects. It's too easy to loose such knowledge, and we don't want to do that," says Susanne Zander, who is project coordinator for "Young Workers" at the Swedish National Board for Youth Affairs.

One in four Swedish youths are unemployed - the young are particularly hard hit during an economic downturn. A 2007 survey by the Swedish National Board for Youth Affairs also showed young people cope less well with being unemployed, compared to other age groups. Young people who end up outside the labour market are vulnerable and find it harder to get back on their feet.

Young outsiders will be a priority during the ESF's current term. There will be some 1,000 projects aimed at this group between now and 2013. The "Young Workers" project will spend 20 million Kronor (€2 million) on a knowledge bank so as not to loose the experiences harnessed from the ESF projects. The ESF will contribute 16 million Kronor (€1.6 million) of this money. The project officially kicked off in January, but practical work started in the autumn. 

The "Young Workers" project is a collaboration between the Swedish National Board for Youth Affairs, the Employment Service, Communicare (a non-profit youth organisation working for young entrepreneurship), Social Insurance in Sweden, The Swedish National Agency for Education, The National Board of Health and Welfare and the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions. The group will focus on challenges affecting certain groups of young people, like ill health, drop-outs, disability, outsiders and youth of foreign heritage. It will also gather information on what makes an individual employable, e.g. how young people can get labour market experience, the competition to secure apprenticeships, how to develop a contact network, how to motivate the young, entrepreneurship and what constitutes social competence. The group will identify strategies for helping young people and then spread that information further.

"We're so happy with the composition of this group. It means we have very good channels for spreading the knowledge we gather, and we will use our own networks for exchanging knowledge. We will also work to exchange knowledge within the EU and with other Nordic countries," says Susanne Zander.

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