Expert Roundtable: Social inclusion through VET – New opportunities for NEETs

SOLIDAR Foundation invited practitioners and policymakers to an expert roundtable in the European Parliament on 19 November 2014 to discuss the pressing topic of NEETs in Europe and the role of vocational education and training (VET) in reintegrating NEETs into the labour market and society as a whole. The roundtable was hosted by MEP Brando Benifei (S&D group).

7.5 million young people aged 15-24 are currently not in employment, education or training. NEETs cost society millions of euros every year through tax losses, inactivity and the cost of specific measures targeted at NEETs. However, this situation also costs the individual and these young people are at risk of further exclusion and other social and financial problems later in their lives.

The number of NEETs has been rising over the past years, and one of the solutions often presented to help the reintegration of these young people is Vocational Education and Training (VET). VET can support social inclusion and reintegration in many ways, including easing the transition from education to the labour market, offering flexible and alternative learning pathways and empowering young people. Despite the positive aspects, there is no one easy solution and a lot remains to be done in order to reduce the number of NEETs in Europe.

During the roundtable researchers and practitioners presented statistics from different countries regarding NEETs and different examples where VET or work-based learning has successfully been used to offer NEETs new possibilities. Some of the points raised repeatedly during the discussion were the need for targeted, individual approaches as NEETs are not a homogenous group for which only one solution can be found; the need for resources within VET to improve inclusiveness and offer opportunities for the most vulnerable and the importance of identifying the skills and interests of these individuals to connect them with meaningful opportunities and future prospects.

The recommendations from the expert roundtable will be an integral part of a policy briefing “Social inclusion through VET – New opportunities for NEETs” SOLIDAR Foundation is publishing next week. These recommendations will help pave the way to inclusive education and societies, and better opportunities for young people in Europe.

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