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Associate feature: Innovation needed to tackle long-term youth unemployment

Associate feature: Innovation needed to tackle long-term youth unemployment

Scottish expertise for supporting long-term unemployed young people into work will be showcased at the European Parliament in Brussels in December at the New Education Forum (NEF).

The forum is a platform for exchanging knowledge, experiences and contacts in the fields of social innovations. NEF acts at a European level and has representatives from more than 190 institutions. These include authorities from European regions and cities, higher education and research institutions, Vocational Education and Training (VET) providers and industry representatives from 17 EU countries.

This year, leading Scottish employability charity Venture Trust and The University of Edinburgh will take centre stage at the NEF forum. Scotland, like the rest of Europe, faces the challenges of finding new and innovative ways to reach disenfranchised youth: those young people furthest away from the labour market.

Youth unemployment figures in Scotland have dropped significantly over the past few years and a target to cut youth unemployment in Scotland has been met four years ahead of schedule. This is encouraging. However, it is estimated there are still 4,000 16-24 year olds who have been unemployed for 12 months or more. This means thousands of young people remain long-term unemployed because they lack the very basic life skills needed to begin working towards securing and sustaining a job.

With Brexit uncertainty driving a skills shortage in the UK, it will be crucial to support young people in gaining the skills needed to fill the predicted void in the labour market. Key sectors in Scotland that will be hit include food and agriculture, hospitality and tourism and health and social care.

Venture Trust has been successfully supporting young people into work, education and training for almost three decades. Uniquely, Venture Trust combines expeditions in Scotland’s great outdoors with personal social development theory and community outreach to help young people turn their lives around.

Outdoor activity and experiential learning techniques are used as a mechanism for building confidence and raising aspiration. The organisation has supported thousands of young people to gain the personal skills, motivation and confidence that has allowed them to move towards getting a job.

Now Venture Trust’s expertise in outdoor learning has resulted in the organisation being selected as the expert partner for a European consortium that will use the outdoors to get young people into the EU labour market.

The "From Outdoors to Labour Market” Project (FOLM) is being led by the Centre for Innovative Education and includes partners from Poland, Spain, Ireland and Scotland. FOLM is funded from a £3,000,000 (€3,400,000) grant from Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway through the EEA and the Norwegian Grants Fund for Youth Employment.

Scottish involvement in the FOLM project has been fundamental: Venture Trust has worked with The University of Edinburgh to produce a theoretical model based on the way the organisation has delivered our programmes and provided training for the project’s partners in Spain, Ireland and Poland.

Venture Trust and The University of Edinburgh will present the model underpinning the FOLM project, and also share the outcomes of the FOLM model to date.

By supporting the FOLM project Venture Trust is sharing learning and extending the reach of our work by enabling partners to work in a meaningful way with hundreds of young people in wider Europe.

Our programmes continue to contribute to a progressive society here in Scotland with valued support from The Scottish Government, local authorities, lottery funding, trust grants and corporate partners. Now we are delighted to be able to extend that approach to European partner countries working with the Limerick Institute of Technology in Ireland, the Government of Cantabria and Grupo Femxa in Spain and Food Bank in Olzstyn in Poland.

We invite anyone interested in attending the New Education Forum on December 10 to register at NEF 2019.

Mike Strang is the head of operations at Venture Trust

This piece was sponsored by Venture Trust

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