The winning projects aim to reduce youth employment by sharing jobs among young and older employees, to extend the reach and quality of small-scale social care and health services via an app, and to improve access to the job market for economically deprived by making their skills widely visible.
To boost social innovation, the European Commission has launched the Social Innovation Competition in memory of Diogo Vasconcelos on the 1 October 2012. Europeans were invited to develop solutions for creating new opportunities for work, and for better work. As a result over 600 proposals were received out of which three were awarded with a prize of €20,000 at the European Social Innovation Awards Ceremony in Brussels today.
José Manuel Durão Barroso, President of the European Commission said: "The winning ideas show that social innovation has the potential to make a major difference in creating new opportunities for work. New markets can be developed from grass-root ideas. The current economic crisis makes this more important than ever. We must look to social innovation to stimulate a more dynamic, inclusive and sustainable social market economy. Unlocking potential and creating work is what we dearly need in today's difficult times."
Vice President of the European Commission, Antonio Tajani, responsible for industry and entrepreneurship, added: "We need to think and act differently to combat unemployment– the biggest societal challenge of today. I wish that these types of innovative ideas could be expanded and replicated to have large-scale impact. This is a source of growth and jobs. We need to tap into."
Jobs for the economically deprived - three outstanding ideas
Social innovation can create new products, services and businesses to strengthen Europe’s relative position in growing fields such as healthcare and environmental services. Social innovators design public services that are better tailored to citizens' needs and greater value for money. The following new and outstanding ideas on how to unlock fresh talent and skills to address pressing unmet needs were the winners of this year’s social innovation competition:
- Extending the reach and impact of sustainable, small-scale social care and health services: Community Catalysts(United Kingdom) propose connecting talents in business and communities to create jobs for social benefit by helping people to use their creativity to set up sustainable, small-scale social care and health services that people can afford. These micro-enterprises could be offered by a wide range of people, including disabled, older and family carers. Community Catalysts want to extend their current reach and impact through a managed network of professional business and professional mentors supporting community entrepreneurs throughout the UK via an on-line platform. More information
- Improve access to the job market for economically deprived by making their skills widely visible: This can be anything from home-made cheese to carpooling to computer support or any other product or service that can reasonably be provided in a home or small business setting. Economy App (Germany) collects information from users on what they could offer in a local economy and what their economic needs are. The software keeps a record of the value of products and services provided and accepted for every person in this economic network and so no money ever needs to change hands. More information
- Reduce youth unemployment by job sharing among young and older employees: MITWIN.NET(Spain) proposes an intergenerational professional network conceived to facilitate contact between people in order to share a job post and knowledge, with the main goal of reducing the high rate of youth unemployment. MITWIN.NET proposes that older workers share a job with younger people, allowing those approaching retirement to share knowledge with those being incorporated into the job market, easing both entry and exit from the job market and addressing young unemployment. More information
The jury was composed of 10 experts in social innovation, independent from the European Commission and from various countries and backgrounds. Each of the proposals from the finalists clearly illustrated innovation, potential for systemic change, ability to be replicated or transferred to another EU Member State or more, and potential for sustainability.
The 2014 round of the Social Innovation Award will be launched in Milan in October 2013.