Motivating young people to explore new career opportunities

Combating a sense of failure and hopelessness among young people who have been unemployed for long periods of time is one of the central aims of a highly successful programme in the Limousin region of France.

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An SAS project workshop gets underway. An SAS project workshop gets underway.

Limousin is a predominantly rural region of France with high youth unemployment and only a limited number of training opportunities for young people. Low family incomes add to mobility difficulties in travelling around the sparsely-populated region, often making periods of unemployment a particularly isolating experience for young people.

The SAS project (Springboard for the Active Guidance of Young Job-seekers) specifically targets young people less than 26 years old who have been looking for a job for over a year. The aim is to tackle the loss of confidence that long-term unemployment has on the psyche of young people by engaging them in a three-month intensive programme of job-related activities.

The programme creates a sense of group dynamics in which young people are motivated or re-motivated to expand their professional experience of the world of work. Above all, the project aims to instil a feeling of professional empowerment among young people which will give them the confidence and self-esteem to look for work independently.

Thinking outside the box

As part of the programme, each participant takes part in a group activity of their choice such as a theatrical performance or charity event, creating a website, a video-clip, a magazine or an exhibition. The aim is to push young people to overcome their isolation or shyness and to help them develop teamwork skills. Facilitators work alongside the young people, but their role is to help participants not to lead them. This approach stresses that facilitators do not dictate to young people what is best for them, but leave participants to discover this for themselves.

Young people taking part in the programme are also given the opportunity to explore a variety of professional fields that might be unrelated to their background, experience or previous qualifications. Group activities aim to develop curiosity about new fields of work that participants may not previously have considered. They are encouraged to talk about their unfulfilled dreams about the world of work and to share their thoughts on why they are attracted to work in specific fields of employment. Included in the programme are opportunities to make contact with business enterprises and chambers of commerce, receive coaching and the provision of information on vocational training.

The SAS programme provides each participant with a grant of EUR 340 per month for the duration of the three-month course. Participants also receive EUR 300 to pay for expenses.

In line with the Europe 2020 strategy, the project aims to raise the employment rate of the region’s workforce from 69 % to at least 76 %. It also aims to reduce the share of early school leavers to 10 % from the current 15 % and to increase the share of the population aged 30-34 with tertiary education from 31 % to at least 40 %.

The programme is held at ten sites around Limousin, with at least one session per quarter being organised at each of six main sites. So far over 500 companies, associations or local authorities have been involved in the project. In total, 71 sessions have been held or are planned and 738 people have participated.

Around 75 % of participants surveyed found a ‘positive solution’ by the end of attending the programme, of which 30 % found jobs, 12.5 % found a vocational training opportunity adapted to their needs and interests, and 32 % said that they were very close to finding a job or training opportunity as a result of their participation.

‘For young people in rural areas or underprivileged neighbourhoods, unemployment means social dropout and disintegration. Thanks to EU cohesion policy, the SAS project fosters their active inclusion through strong team-building and experiences in unfamiliar work environments. It raises young people from the position of victims of a difficult economic situation to the position of new opportunity players. Thus it empowers them to a dynamic re-launch of both professional and personal projects.’

  • Jean-Paul Denanot, President of the Limousin Region

Total investment and EU funding

Total investment for the project “SAS pour l’orientation active des jeunes (Springboard for the active guidance of young job-seekers)” was EUR 940 000 of which the EU’s European Social Fund contributed EUR 224 400 from Regional Operational Programme for the 2007-2013 programming period.

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