Tackling the scourge of youth unemployment

A highly successful programme to combat youth unemployment in the Brandenburg region of Germany succeeded in finding skilled jobs for 2 231 people under the age of 30.

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The programme is helping young people in Brandenburg to find work The programme is helping young people in Brandenburg to find work

Since the re-unification of Germany, the federal state of Brandenburg has suffered from high levels of youth unemployment particularly in the rural areas close to the border with Poland. Up until 2010, less than half of all apprentices in the region were retained by companies after they had completed their training. This is in stark contrast to a retention rate around 10 % to 15 % higher in the western federal states of Germany.

It was to combat this problem – and the fact that the longer young people remain outside the labour market, the harder it generally becomes for them to find a job – that the Einstiegszeit programme was devised. The programme was originally piloted in five locations in eastern Brandenburg before being rolled out to 10 locations throughout the region.

The programme works by targeting two groups: on the one hand, providing support to youths who have completed vocational education and training, and on the other hand, the programme has supported more than 2 100 small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in their recruitment planning and organisational development.

Enhancing co-operation

The project aims to enhance cooperation between regional actors in the labour market; it also seeks to better connect youth policies with bodies such as employment agencies, jobcentres, chambers of commerce, education providers, and other state agencies.

Young people who have been given a placement as part of the programme receive counselling for a period of six months after taking up their jobs, in order to assist them in sustaining employment longer-term. The programme also helps young women in career planning. Furthermore, it also offers a subsidy of around EUR 1 000 to provide hired skilled workers with additional qualifications.

Around 45 % of the young people placed during the programme were women. Of the total 2 231 placements made by 2012, 75 % were full-time positions and the remaining 25 % were part-time. Over half of the workers placed in part-time jobs were able to work towards further qualifications in their remaining time.;

To date, 75 % of the hired workers have received permanent contracts upon programme completion and 95 % continue to work for the companies they were placed with. It is thought that a significant number of these skilled workers would not be employed without the help of the Einstiegszeit programme. It is also likely that many SMEs in Brandenburg would otherwise have faced a skilled-worker shortage, as most SMEs do not have the resources necessary for staff planning and development. The programme therefore helped to safeguard the future of the companies involved.

Project results show that a customised approach for the placement and support of young unemployed people has been effective in integrating people into the workforce at a reasonable cost. Einstiegszeit has also contributed to a reduction in the brain drain effect experienced by Brandenburg in recent years, whereby qualified young people left the region because of an inability to find work. In addition, the unemployment level has been reduced, the next generation of skilled workers has been ensured, and career opportunities for women have been improved.

‘The programme “Einstiegszeit” brings together qualified unemployed young people with small- and medium-sized enterprises who are facing skills shortages. Through personnel and organisational development in the light of shortages and at the same time skills shortages, success stories and future perspectives for young people in the region should be created.’

  • Peter Wölffling, Managing Director IHK-Projektgesellschaft mbH

Total investment and EU funding

Total investment for the project “Förderung der «Einstiegszeit» von arbeitslosen Jugendlichen [All aboard for young people in Brandenburg]” was EUR 13 337 000, of which the EU’s European Social Fund contributed EUR 9 836 000 from the “Brandenburg” Operational Programme for the 2007-2013 programming period.

Draft date