One of the EU priorities aims to get as many people as possible at work. The member states are responsible for their own employment policy, so that the role of the EU is limited to the coordination and financial support of diverse projects. The target of the European policy is that 75 percent of all citizens in the age group from 20 to 64 years should be at work by the year 2020.
Especially youngsters under the age of 25 years face serious difficulties to get a job. In 2014 the unemployment rate among youngsters was twice as high as the general unemployment rate. For this reason, youngsters’ unemployment will be tackled as a specific challenge. In order to prevent the creation of a “lost generation” additional resources have been allocated to the reduction of youth.
In Flanders youngsters are in a relatively solid position on the labour market. With a youth unemployment rate of 12,8% as opposed to 19,8% in Belgium and 22,9% in the EU-27, the situation is not as dramatic as in a number of other European countries. Specific challenges for Flanders are the unemployment rate of unskilled youngsters and the unemployment rate of youngsters who are neither at work, nor following a vocational training (the so-called NEET-youngsters).
In order to tackle the specific challenges for Flanders, ESF Flanders launched the following calls for proposals in 2015:
In these calls for proposals promoters offer pathways to integration for youngsters in the age group between 18 and 25 years (for the YEI 30). Following a targeted orientation, the youngsters are offered tailor-made guidance towards work, internship or vocational training. In the context of the WIJ! call the majority of the youngsters are selected by VDAB and a small part of the youngsters is selected through the promoter’s network. In the context of the YEI call the promoters themselves are actively going to look for youngsters by outreach and looking at specific locations.
Finally, ESF Flanders participates in a European thematic network regarding Youth, in which Flanders and other regions or member states share knowledge and set up a transnational call for proposals. Finally, in 2016 ESF Flanders will be setting up a Flemish network regarding youth employment.