In Denmark alone there are 37-39,000 young people aged 16-29 who are in neither education nor employment – equivalent to about 8% of each annual cohort. Some of these young people have social, personal or psychological problems, often of a complex nature, that contribute to keeping them unemployed. How do we get them back on track, so that they can enjoy active and fulfilling adult lives and make a contribution to society?
In 2014 the ROCKWOOL Foundation launched an intervention project with the overarching goal of getting vulnerable young people who were stuck in passive support programmes to become engaged in and committed to education or work. Using an innovative, user-driven design process, the project develops, trials and documents new methods of bringing unemployed young people into education or work. This initiative is called NExTWORK.
What is NExTWORK?
A NExTWORK intervention is rooted in a local network of firms that offer internships to young unemployed people. The firms receive support for working with these young people, and take responsibility for working together to stimulate a group of youngsters to progress towards education or employment. The cooperation between the firms might, for example, involve a young person moving between businesses in the network in internship posts.
The aim of the internships is to provide the young people with opportunities to develop their personal and social skills, build up relationships and networks, achieve stability in their everyday lives, and increase their confidence in their own abilities. The young people should acquire the necessary ‘ballast’ that will enable them to strengthen their initiative and tenacity, and help them on their way to education and a job. In parallel with their work internships, the young people receive support from youth leaders and psychologists to help them deal with social problems and psychological barriers. The young people share their experiences with each other at weekly network meetings, where they also practice simple techniques for tackling workplace challenges.
Additional information is available (in Danish) on the NExTWORK website, www.nextworks.dk.
The development process in the NExTWORK initiative
At the turn of the year 2015/2016 we are in the middle of the design phase, during which the content of NExTWORK is being formulated and trialled. We have carried out an exploratory scoping study, a mapping of existing initiatives (in Danish) and an in-depth user survey. This includes a profile analysis,
which focussed on a group of vulnerable young people in an attempt to put into words their experiences of the existing employment system and their own desires and needs. Together, these various elements provided the starting point for the formulation of the basic principles for a new initiative for working with young people and for the design of the general framework for that initiative.
Exploratory phase 2014/2015
- Scoping analysis
- User survey
Design phase 2015/2016
- Concept design
Pilot phase 2016-?
- Trialling the initiative in pilot projects
- Upscaling the initiative
In the design phase, the basic concept of NExTWORK was made more specific through a series of workshops that involved young people, firms, and other relevant actors. Since September 2015, work has been under way in the Municipality of Roskilde on trialling and further developing NExTWORK, with the participation of 18 firms and 20 young people. Working closely with these young people and firms, we have been able to build up experience of how a new employment initiative can best be put together.
After the trialling period in phase 2, the framework and activities of the initiative will be described in detail. It is then our ambition to have NExTWORK further trialled and subsequently evaluated through a series of pilot projects, to be carried out in close collaboration with two or three municipalities.
 Statistikbanken, AUL07, ‘Fuldtidsledige efter område, personer/pct, uddannelse, alder, køn’ (Full-time unemployment by area, numbers/percentages, education, age and gender).