During the last years, EU economy has started to show signs of recovery following the financial crisis of 2008. However, according to EU SPC’s ‘2017 Social Protection Performance Monitor (SPPM) dashboard results’: “despite the gradual improvements, social conditions still remain worse compared to 2008 in many Member States”. Specifically, the indicators regarding young NEETs, for the period of 2008-2016, show deterioration in 11 member states and improvement only in 5 member states. Furthermore, youth unemployment ratio and long-term unemployment rate, were worse in 2016 in most member states than in 2008. One particularly vulnerable group in the contemporary economic environment is NEETs who are at risk of social exclusion due to their low skills and lack of formal education. The overall objective of this project is to empower youths facing social exclusion due to unemployment, by giving them an opportunity to fulfill their potential and be impactful members of their society by introducing them to the benefits of social entrepreneurship.
Social entrepreneurship was chosen because according to the EDUCATION, YOUTH, CULTURE and SPORT Council meeting in Brussels, 20 May 2014, “Εntrepreneurship can constitute an important element with regards to the autonomy, personal development and wellbeing of young people. Entrepreneurship can be seen as one of the solutions to combat youth unemployment” and “In particular, the “social entrepreneurship” model, primarily aimed at contributing to the general good of society, can appeal to young people and give them the chance to provide innovative responses to the current economic, social and environmental challenges. The social entrepreneurship idea that is close to people and local communities ensures social cohesion through the involvement of young people including those from vulnerable groups”.
The project has the following objectives:
- to provide young social entrepreneurs with the required skills and competences to succeed in the modern competitive market environment and increase the positive impact of their businesses on society.
- to develop transnational cooperation in the field of social entrepreneurship by exchanging good practices and experiences between partner countries
- to introduce the concept and potential benefits of social entrepreneurship to youths facing social exclusion due to low skills and unemployment (NEETs)
- to improve the skills and competences of young people that are required to succeed in the field of social entrepreneurship
- to improve young NEETs ability to utilize the internet and social media in order to promote their businesses online
- to improve communication, interaction, cooperation skills of participants especially in an international environment – to improve language skills of participants
- to introduce participant to the cultural environment of other partner countries
- to strengthen the feeling of belonging to a European community
- to improve the effectiveness of youth workers on providing training and guidance to NEETs with regard to the necessary skills they need to possess in order to compete effectively in the business environment
Young people facing the risk of social exclusion due to fewer opportunities and unemployment (NEETs, aged 15-24) are the main group that this project is targeted to. Social entrepreneurship is expected to provide them with an opportunity to have a positive impact in their society and feel included. The project aims to provide them with the necessary skills and knowledge to start, run and sustain their own social enterprises. Youth workers that provide education to NEETs are another target group of this project. In order to provide high quality education in entrepreneurship and social entrepreneurship to NEETs, youth workers need to be trained in innovative teaching tools such as Virtual Enterprises software.