1. INTRODUCTION – BACKGROUND 1.1. Programme/Legal base
The European Programme for Employment and Social Innovation "EaSI" 2014-20201 is a European-level financing instrument managed directly by the European Commission to contribute to the implementation of the Europe 2020 strategy, by providing financial support for the Union's objectives in terms of promoting a high level of quality and sustainable employment, guaranteeing adequate and decent social protection, combating social exclusion and poverty and improving working conditions.
The EaSI Programme shall, in all its axes and actions, aim to:
(a) pay particular attention to vulnerable groups, such as young people;
(b) promote equality between women and men,
(c) combat discrimination based on sex, racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation;
(d) promote a high-level of quality and sustainable employment, guarantee adequate and decent social protection, combat long-term unemployment and fight against poverty and social exclusion.
Hence, in designing, implementing and reporting on the activity, beneficiaries/contractors must address the issues noted above and will be required to provide detail, in the final activity report on the steps and achievements made towards addressing those aims.
1.2. Policy and economic background
The effects of the economic crisis on employment have been particularly marked for the European youth. At present around 4.5 million people in Europe under the age of 25 are unemployed and a total of 7.1 million are not in employment, education or training (NEETs). This represents a huge untapped resource that Europe cannot afford to squander and carries serious implications for future growth and social cohesion.
In December 2012, the Commission put forward a Youth Employment Package to assist and guide Member States in combatting youth unemployment and inactivity. Based on the Commission's proposal, the Council adopted a Recommendation on the Youth Guarantee in April 20132. Member States thereby committed to ensuring that all young people under the age of 25 receive a good-quality offer of employment, continued education, an apprenticeship or a traineeship within a period of four months of becoming unemployed or leaving formal education.
By spring 2014, all Member States had presented national Youth Guarantee Implementation Plans3. Implementation is underway and the Youth Guarantee has already led to bold structural
reforms. As reflected in the Commission's country reports under the European Semester 2015, Member States have strengthened for example the capacity of Public Employment Services, adopted incentives to stimulate job creation and undertaken reforms to improve Vocational Education and Training systems. First results have now become visible with youth unemployment rates decreasing. However, the Youth Guarantee itself is a structural reform effort which takes time to fully materialise. Further efforts are needed. Outreach to inactive young people and those furthest from the labour market has been considered a particular challenge, with 12 Member States receiving a Country-Specific Recommendations on this point in 2014. Moreover, the Youth Guarantee will not work without strong mobilization of all relevant players (including social partners, civil society and the private sector). Other challenges are the delivery of quality services to young people, ensuring the quality of offers, and finding new ways of engaging business.
The Commission monitors implementation of the Council Recommendation within the European Semester, underpinned by annual data collections under the Employment Committee's (EMCO) Indicator Framework for Monitoring the Youth Guarantee. The Commission will present in the autumn of 2016 a comprehensive report on the implementation of the Youth Guarantee, as requested by the June 2013 European Council.
1.3. Main Purposes
High awareness of the Youth Guarantee among young people is essential for a better outreach towards those not registered with their respective national Youth Guarantee systems: it is a pre- condition for them to contact relevant services and benefit from available offers.
As per the Council Recommendation on establishing a Youth Guarantee, the "development of effective outreach strategies towards young people, including information and awareness campaigns with a view to catchment and registration with employment services, focusing on young vulnerable people facing multiple barriers (such as social exclusion, poverty or discrimination) and NEETs, and taking into consideration their diverse backgrounds (due in particular to poverty, disability, low educational attainment or ethnic minority/ migrant background)", are important for the success of a Youth Guarantee scheme4. This is to be achieved in partnership with relevant provision and governance stakeholders5.
Moreover, the Council Recommendation on establishing a Youth Guarantee recommends that the European Commission supports information sharing and outreach activities with the setting-up of the Youth Guarantee across Member States.6
Current information dissemination efforts and activities include a dedicated Youth Guarantee section on the European Commission DG EMPL website7, containing published Youth Guarantee Implementation Plans, reports on the state-of-play of Youth Guarantee Implementation, information on 18 small-scale pilot projects as well as promotional videos, and leaflets. In addition, there are several Member States that have launched information activities, dedicated websites, and videos promoting national policies and measures in line with the Youth Guarantee8. Furthermore, the European Commission implemented in the first semester of 2015
pilot information and awareness-raising activities in partnership with national Youth Guarantee providers in four Member States (Finland, Latvia, Portugal and Romania). A toolkit including a visual concept has been developed in this context, which is available online and can be used in all EU Member States with a view to disseminating information and engaging youth with the Youth Guarantee9. The pilot helped underline the role of focus groups to better grasp young people’s expectations. It highlighted the need to combine online communication channels (social media channels, a website with information about the scheme and registration), with face-to-face contacts (such as youth events with the participation of advisers). It also highlighted the importance of testimonials and the potential of working with bloggers, role models and sports clubs. Finally, following a Call for Proposals on 'Information sharing and outreach activities to young people about Youth Guarantee offers' in 2015, Bulgaria, Greece, Lithuania and Slovenia are also receiving EU funding for increasing public awareness of the Youth Guarantee10. The final outcomes and results of these four projects are expected in 2017.
Nevertheless, thus far results and impact in terms of increased awareness of the Youth Guarantee in Member States remain uneven and synergies between communication about individual measures and the Youth Guarantee as a national policy could be further developed. A Flash Eurobarometer survey published in April 201411 highlighted that the Youth Guarantee suffers from a lack of visibility among its core target audience. Almost eight in ten young people had not heard of the initiative by then, 17% had heard of it but were not familiar with the details. Only 4% had detailed knowledge of it. Awareness was highest in Finland, Sweden and Bulgaria, lowest in France, Estonia and Hungary.
In addition to the national and EU level dissemination information sharing and outreach activities currently running regarding the Youth Guarantee, parallel Union co-funded activities are taking place to tackle youth unemployment using Union instruments and funds. Member States have a legal obligation to carry out communication and information activities in relation to the operational programmes launched with EU financial support, notably from the European Social Fund and the Youth Employment Initiative12, with a view to informing potential beneficiaries about funding opportunities in the context of these programmes13.
As such, activities complementary to and consistent with other EU action are possible and may be implemented jointly with other Union instruments. It should be ensured that activities carried out under the EaSI Programme are consistent with, and complementary to, other Union action such as the European Structural and Investment Funds14, in particular the ESF/YEI. The EaSI Regulation provides for close synergies being created between the EaSI Programme and other Union Programmes and Funds (in particular the ESF/YEI) with due diligence being taken to avoid the same eligible costs being double funded15.
2. OBJECTIVE(S) – PRIORITIES – EXPECTED RESULTS 2.1. Objectives - Priorities
A priority of Commission President Juncker's Guidelines16 is a New Boost for Jobs, Growth and Investment, which necessitates the acceleration of the implementation of the Youth Guarantee Scheme. Coupled with this, one of the objectives of the EaSI PROGRESS axis is to facilitate effective and inclusive information-sharing, mutual learning and dialogue and as such this call for proposals has the overarching objective of removing obstacles to Youth Guarantee implementation, notably by outreach, information sharing and communication activities leading to both of the following specific objectives:
1. To better inform/engage Youth Guarantee Stakeholders in implementing partnerships for Youth Guarantee delivery
The relevant stakeholders in the public services, NGOs and civil society may include: employment services, career guidance providers, education and training institutions, youth support services and centres, social partners (employers and trades unions), national, regional, and local government, and youth organisations17. Involvement of stakeholders that reach out to particularly vulnerable groups facing multiple barriers (such as social exclusion, poverty or discrimination) and that help taking into consideration the diverse backgrounds of NEETs (due in particular to poverty, disability, low educational attainment or ethnic minority/ migrant background) will be particularly relevant.
2. To better inform young people about the Youth Guarantee, engage with and reach out to them, with the aim of bringing them into the Youth Guarantee service
The activities should lead to an increase in the number of young people aware of the Youth Guarantee and of those registered with relevant authorities, i.e. the national Youth Guarantee provider(s). Particular focus should be on the most vulnerable groups, as outlined in the previous paragraph.
Each applicant organisation/ institution is requested to set their own measurable objectives and to develop awareness-raising and communication activities for the Youth Guarantee accordingly in their constituent Member State, which are adapted to the country's circumstances and deemed necessary to remove the remaining specific obstacles to Youth Guarantee implementation. It will be important to justify the added value of the proposed action, be it by setting regional, socio-economic or other relevant priorities. The experience gained from the activities supported under this call for proposals18 will provide other Member States with various examples for raising awareness and tackling challenges in Youth Guarantee implementation, with a view to creating good practices that could be replicated and adapted to their own Youth Guarantee schemes and feeding into communication on the Youth Guarantee at the European level.
In the framework of communication activities about the Youth Guarantee, the link should be made to the European Social Fund and the Youth Employment Initiative, which are key funding instruments of Youth Guarantee implementation (see also section I.3). In particular for activities targeting Youth Guarantee stakeholders, the nature of different instruments (e.g. ESF, YEI) – with a clear distinction from the policy (YG) – should be made clear. Applicants are encouraged to include in the awareness-raising activities information on synergies with other relevant instruments, both EU ones (e.g. Erasmus +) and national programmes.
2.2. Description of the activities to be funded / Type of actions
The types of activities which may be funded under this call for proposals include: Under objective 1:
- actions aiming at the creation and improving of networks, cooperation mechanisms and exchange of good practices among Youth Guarantee provision and governance stakeholders19. Stakeholders that reach out to particularly vulnerable groups facing multiple barriers (such as social exclusion, poverty or discrimination) and that help taking into consideration the diverse backgrounds of NEETs (due in particular to poverty, disability, low educational attainment or ethnic minority/ migrant background) will be particularly relevant.
- conferences, seminars;
- training activities. Under objective 2:
- Outreach, information sharing and communication activities related to the Youth Guarantee (inter alia):
o developmentandmaintenanceofadevotednationalYouthGuaranteeonline platform (for example a website or a part of existing website), which provides regular updates on the state of play of Youth Guarantee implementation in the country, and especially where young people can find out about the opportunities available to them under the scheme (what, how, when) and where they can register. Each applicant whose Member State has not yet set up such an online platform/website should include this activity in the proposal. Revamps or major extensions of existing platforms are also eligible.
o Theidentification,documentationanddisseminationofatleast5casestudies/ testimonials highlighting a success story of a person who has benefited from the YG programme, ideally covering the different types of quality offers (education, traineeship, apprenticeship and job opportunities). Each applicant whose Member State does not yet have such case studies/ testimonials at their disposal should include this activity in the proposal.
o development and use of existing national 'own media' portals; o social media communication;
o advertising (including digital) and ambient media;
o press and media relations;
o distribution of information and materials via existing networks in touch with young people, such as the Eurodesk20 network of multipliers;
o peer-to-peer outreach (involving young people e.g. as youth ambassadors);
o events, street outreach and visits and activities in youth centres.
Applicants can, when developing outreach, information sharing and communication activities, seek synergy with existing channels to reach young people, including the European Youth Portal (http://europa.eu/youth/en) and related social media (e.g. the "European Youth" Facebook profile).
The action (see types of activities under 2.2) should lead to enhanced partnerships among Youth Guarantee stakeholders and to an increased number of young people registered for Youth Guarantee services.
The Commission, with the support of an external contractor, will monitor regularly the EaSI Programme. Therefore, beneficiaries/contractors will have to transmit qualitative and quantitative monitoring data on the results of the activities. These will include the extent to which the principles of equality between women and men has been applied, as well as how anti- discrimination considerations, including accessibility issues, have been addressed through the activities. Related templates are attached or will be provided.
In setting up the action, beneficiaries/contractors must foresee the necessary funding for monitoring and reporting to the Commission.