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"transitions" takes stock after three years: National recommendations published for transitions to training and employment

Since 2012, Germany, Finland, France, and Luxemburg are involved in an intense dialogue on questions relating to the transition of young people to training and employment. talked with Bärbel Lörcher-Straßburg and Tim Pieper, two members of the national team of experts accompanying the project, about the accomplishments of the multilateral cooperation project "transitions" and the potential for continuing development based on national results. Looking at Insights and Recommendations - Project "transitions" you realize that a closer cooperation between youth services/youth social work and the economic sector seems imperative, and that participants see considerable scope for development. What's your opinion on these recommendations?

Tim Pieper: I very much welcome these recommendations made by the team of experts. After all, our mutual objective is to support young people facing challenges in the transition from school to employment. According to the results of our survey this year, the members of our Association of Young Entrepreneurs and Executives were short of some 15,000 apprentices/trainees. But at the same time, far too many young people leave school without completing their education, can't find an apprenticeship placement, or leave without gaining a qualification. We need to concentrate on supporting disadvantaged young people in achieving a successful transition from school to training and employment. This can only happen if there is very close cooperation between the economic sector, schools, and youth services/youth social work as well as an ongoing mutual exchange about their respective requirements - it's the only way to develop solutions and targeted activities.

Tim Pieper, Junior Chamber International, Germany (Wirtschaftsjunioren Deutschland), project leader "Jugend stärken: 1000 Chancen“ ("Empowering Young People: 1000 Options") (; member of the expert team accompanying project "transitions". In the paper, the relationship between youth services and the economic sector is described as rather "distant". From the economy point of view, what effort would both sides need to make in order to achieve a productive dialogue?

Tim Pieper: At the Junior Chamber International, in cooperation with the Federal Ministry of Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth, we are already using our project "Jugend stärken: 1000 Chancen" to try to develop and strengthen this relationship at a local level. While the primary concern is, of course, to provide specific individual support for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds, the underlying foundation on which this project is built is the close cooperation between project partners from the economic sector and youth social work. To achieve this, both sides must get involved with one another and overcome their mutual reservations. The "1000 Chancen" project supports this process and allows for discussions on requirements, offers, thinking and working practices etc. to take place on an equal footing. When this results in concrete local projects, we publish these success stories so that we can help reduce any reservations and inspire others to follow suit. In terms of youth unemployment, Germany compares fairly well to other European countries. Shouldn't efforts in the transitions field be increased despite this?

Bärbel Lörcher-Straßburg:

Germany certainly has a low number of unemployed young people compared to other European countries. But even so, it's not easy for young people to take their first steps into employment and the working environment, most especially for those who come from socially disadvantaged families or districts as well as those who have not completed their schooling or who are chronic truants. I think that the concept of "reliable cooperation" involving youth services and schools as well as youth services and the economic sector, as described by "transitions", is very promising. Also very important are references to being clear with regard to aims and cooperation as well as long-term collaboration.  Reliable and binding structures are essential within the transitions system, so that the transition process of young people can truly be supported. In consequence, there must also be changes within the standard systems so that young people with difficulties finding a placement (can) still remain a part of the system. Nothing is worse than making young people feel excluded, or having them feel that they've failed several times already by the time they are 16, 17, 18 years old. The summary paper stresses that it is intended to initiate a discussion process about the question of structure for the transition from school to training and employment. How can this discussion process be developed in a way that enables it to achieve a wider impact?

Tim Pieper:With regard to the question of a well-structured transitions field, it is imperative that all relevant actors are included in the dialogue. Aside from the economic sector and youth services, this would above all, of course, include schools, the Federal Employment Agency and job centres as well as representatives of the target group – the young people themselves. Looking at best practice in other countries within the context of "transitions", those taking part in the discussion not only considered new ideas and different aspects but were also encouraged to think outside the box. The development of such forums is therefore very important at regional level, too, so that specific actions can be recommended to suit local implementation and have a direct impact.

Bärbel Lörcher-Straßburg - Lower Saxony Ministry of Social Affairs, Women, Family, Health and Integration; officer at Section 305 - Policy and Legal Matters in Child and Youth Services; member of the expert team accompanying the "transitions" project as a representative of the Federal-and-Länder Working Group for the Implementation of EU Youth Strategy. What additional benefit do you think the insights gained during the multilateral cooperation project "transitions" can provide for the implementation of the European Youth Strategy?

Bärbel Lörcher-Straßburg: The Federal-and-Länder Working Group has just adopted its working programme for the second phase of the implementation of EU Youth Strategy in Germany (2014 to 2018). "Social integration and successful transitions to training and employment" remains one of the three key aspects for the second phase, too. At federal as well as Länder level, one of the central aims of youth policy still is the provision of stronger support for those young people who have participated little or not at all in cross-border learning activities to date. Cross-border activities that are part of a range of subsidies, such as youth meetings, work camps, and internships, contribute greatly to the individual support and development of young people and so enable an easier transition to training and employment. Where do you see specific starting points?

Bärbel Lörcher-Straßburg: The recommendations developed by the "transitions" project are in accord with the aim of the Federal-and-Länder Working Group for more involvement and support at local level over the coming four years. Specific examples of best practice such as "Missions Locales" or the Dutch "TOM" project can be used within the Länder's continuing education programmes to suggest new ways of supporting disadvantaged target groups. Another additional benefit would surely be specific support at local level by providing tips for contacting potential partners and identifying potential projects. The desire of "transitions" to extend the participation of young people is in full alignment with the initial range of issues to be implemented by the EU Youth Strategy under the heading of "Furthering participation and strengthening democracy". Furthering young people's autonomy by a greater degree of participation is also a central objective for federal and Länder governments. Utilizing the project experiences gained by "transitions" in their own work constitutes "additional value" for the Länder and communal stakeholders. The challenge is to take the "transitions" results of, for example, the "peer-assisted learning project" and make them accessible to experts in the field in such a way that they can actually be used. How do you rate the work of the accompanying team of experts? What worked well and where is there a need for improvement?

Tim Pieper: I felt that the discussions within the team of experts were very constructive and that the insights from the international peer exchanges provided invaluable food for thought. This, together with the varied ways of thinking the individual experts from their different areas of operation brought to the table, created a colourful picture with diverse views and approaches. This is why this complex process of dialogues needs to be continued, so that initiatives can be developed and, especially at a local level, actors can continue to be inspired. Where do you see "transitions“ in the immediate future?

Bärbel Lörcher-Straßburg: I would like to have a project like "transitions" as a permanent feature to be used as part of the implementation of the EU Youth Strategy. Our experience in Lower Saxony shows that it takes a lot of effort for our youth services professionals to take part in Europe-wide exchanges and learn from each other in a structured manner. "transitions" could contribute to supporting cross-border learning for professionals on subjects such as transitions, participation, or truancy, and could encourage youth exchanges and other projects. I would think that was great, and it would be a good way to make the EU Youth Strategy accessible and usable for experts and the young people. What do you see as the way forward after the "transitions" project?

Tim Pieper: I think it is important that the insights and recommendations are put into practice. Many of these ideas offer possible solutions for making the transitions process easier for young people. I hope that they will now be implemented in the field, wherever required, and that they will result in many more new best-practice projects. The Junior Chamber International will continue to initiate working relationships, so that long-term support strategies can be created in cooperation with youth social work. I would be delighted if, at a later date, the participants would meet to exchange their experiences of implementing and incorporating the results into their work.

For links to "International Impulses for Successful Transitions"": please click here! !

Lizenz: INT 3.0 – Namensnennung – nicht kommerziell – keine Bearbeitung CC BY-NC-ND 3.0

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