The European Social Fund (ESF) has worked with young people for many years, with the 2014-2020 programme in England targeting both those furthest from the labour market, and young apprentices and learners embarking on careers. The economic downturn has focused attention on rapidly rising unemployment among the growing numbers of young people not in education, employment or training (NEET), as well as the prospects for graduates and apprentices with suddenly uncertain futures.
There has been a lot of research into the issues of the effects of unemployment on young people. The Private Equity Foundation released a paper, Young People not in Education, Employment or Training, (October 2008), in which they review and discuss the reasons for non-engagement and evidence of effective interventions amongst young people aged between 16 and 24 years of age.
The coalition government and the Big Society philosophy seeks to support NEET groups and break the cyclical effect that unemployment has within families and their future generations. Evidence shows that people are better off in work – not only financially, but in terms of their health and wellbeing, their self-esteem and the future prospects for themselves and their family. A report commissioned by The Prince’s Trust, Reaching the Hardest to Reach (March 2004), explores the lives and views of disadvantaged 14- to 25-year-olds, and aims to improve both the understanding of young people’s needs and the perceptions of the services provided to tackle social exclusion. This work has identified a number of critical points where positive support may prevent further social disaffection.
The ESF is active with all sorts of young people, demonstrating innovative and effective practice in working with:
- young offenders
- young parents
- work experience