In Italy the Neet – young people Not in education, employment or training, are numerous. However there is something that is obtaining extraordinary results in reducing the phenomenon: it is called Teamwork, which is a project promoted since 2014 by the NGO ActionAid in various Italian cities and in particular it has been active in Milan for three years in cooperation also with Fondazione Adecco per le Pari opportunità. The last edition of the project was started in May this year.
“At least three young people out of four who take part in the project are reactivated and at the end of a three-month course go back to studying or find a training or job opportunity”, explained Vittoria Pugliese, coordinator of Teamwork for Action Aid. This far reaching result can be taken as a model for containing the problem, since the number of Neet in Italy today is the highest in Europe and successful counter-trend ideas are what is needed. We are talking about 2.2 million people between the ages of 15 and 34, i.e. 24% of the total – with a peak of 34% in the regions of Southern Italy – compared to a European average of 14% (source Confindustria report for 2017).
How does Teamwork work? “Alternating artistic or sports group events with times for self-empowerment and career guidance”, explained Pugliese. In Milan for example they do Thai boxing while in the other Teamwork activities in Italy, such as Bari, Reggio Calabria and Turin, they do other sports such as canoeing, football, street dancing, judo and athletics. The ActionAid coordinator went on to say that “ Promoting the practice of sports is an excellent way to “hook” the young Neet people, also because it enables them to get some experience in group work”.
Since 2014 150 young people have been involved, of which 60-70% were male and 120 of them finished the programme.
“In order to reach them we use the social networks but also traditional methods such as flyers left in bars and other businesses. We also contact associations and cooperatives that already work with vulnerable adolescents and young people”. Since 2014 150 young people have been involved, all between the ages of 16 and 25, of which 60-70% male, and 120 of them have finished the programme which over a period of 90 days duration requires their attendance three afternoons per week. To give an example, of the 24 participants in the 2017 edition of Teamwork in Milan “four resumed their formal studies, nine started training courses, another nine became apprentices and two found jobs”.
The main work done on the Neet people concerns their self-empowerment, inducing them to bring out the sides of their personalities that are marketable in society and the labour market.
The heart of the project lies precisely in its name: teamwork of the institutions involved, which then reflects on the young people. “We communicate daily to keep up to date on the progress of the individual young people and this approach is also useful for motivating them, because this way they feel trust around them; in fact many of them start the course believing they will not make it, then instead when they realise that no one is judging them they start trying”, explained Laura Ciardiello, the Project Development Manager of the Adecco Foundation for Equal Opportunities which followed Teamwork right from the first steps. “The main work done on the Neet people concerns their self-empowerment, inducing them to bring out the sides of their personalities that are then marketable in society and the labour market”. Companies show interest in the young Neet people: “in these three years we have always found doors open”, said Ciardiello.
With the supervision of expert consultants, a personalised programme is activated for each young person to take account of the possibilities and their aspirations; for example a young man who wants to be a barman in the medium term, starts by trying out a job as a waiter and then specialises later. Once again, the idea is to try to go beyond the commonplace: “A young Egyptian man arrived in the project thinking that the only job open to him was that of a pizza chef since that was the advice he was getting. But he liked cutting hair and now he is going his own way by doing an apprenticeship at a hairdresser’s”, was the story told by the Project Development Manager of the Adecco Foundation for Equal Opportunities.
The experience of Teamwork brings out an important element; what enables young Neet people to get back into the game is the mix of job prospects and social advance regardless of the place where they are is born. In fact those involved in the project include young people in the low-middle wages bracket from city suburbs and the more up market parts of the city. Likewise the project involves both Italian and foreign people including those applying from asylum. “The mixed groups represent a further added value because there is aggregation of groups of people who in daily life have less opportunity to come into contact”, concluded Pugliese of ActionAid.