Taking the future into their own hands: Youth work and entrepreneurial learning.

In the challenging times that most EU Member States are experiencing in the aftermath of the financial crisis, young people are at particular risk of being left at the margins of society. In 2016, approximately 1 in 10 young people in the EU Member States was neither in employment nor in education or training. Public institutions have a responsibility to respond to this challenge, and consequently the European Union and national governments have launched considerable efforts to promote entrepreneurship among young people. The policy rationale behind this is that if young people can be empowered to take initiative and seize opportunities, they may stand a better chance of successful participation in the labour market and in society as active citizens, as well as managing their lives in an increasingly complex world.

But how does society reach out to young people who are not part of it? How can young people plug in and become active citizens if they are neither in employment nor in education or training? And even if young people do pursue an education, what are their options when they find that their qualifications are not in demand in the labour market? In short, how can society strengthen the ability of young people to make an active contribution, to tackle the severe challenges, to take their future into their own hands – to shape an inclusive and sustainable Europe?

One response to these questions comes from youth work. Youth work offers a forum for activities where young people can participate regardless of their employment or education and training status. There are several indications that youth work helps develop entrepreneurial competences in young people as an important non-formal and informal learning platform and a pathway to active citizenship.

Context of the study

The European Commission commissioned a consortium of the Danish Technological Institute (DK) and comprising 3s Unternehmensberatung GmbH (AT), The Young Foundation (UK) and PEEP (PT) to carry out a study on how youth work can contribute even more to the well-being and prosperity of society by embracing the concept of entrepreneurship and developing its ability to deliver entrepreneurial learning. In short, the overall purpose of the study was to: 

…explore how youth work and non-formal learning can help foster entrepreneurship and so complement initiatives undertaken in other sectors such as formal education and training, enterprises and employment.

This study involved desk research and interviews to map the policy frameworks and the situation with respect to entrepreneurial learning in youth work across the EU. The mapping is documented to country reports. Further desk research of youth work practices on entrepreneurial learning in Europe and in Australia, Canada and the United States resulted in the identification and description of 114 examples of good practice. Among these, 12 were selected for interview-based on-site case studies, documented in a case study report. Finally, a stakeholder seminar was arranged in December 2016 to discuss preliminary findings and thus contribute to the conclusions following these findings.

Who is the study report for?

The study report formulates recommendations for further actions for policymakers and programme leaders within the cross-section between youth and education at the EU and national levels, along with recommendations for education and training providers, including youth work, and their cross-sectoral cooperation.

The study is based on an extensive collection of data about youth work and entrepreneurial learning in all EU Member States, summarised in 28 country reports, an inventory of 114 good practices and 12 case study reports. It confirms that youth work has an important contribution to make, but that improvements should be made in respect to the policy framework, as well as concerning partnerships at national, regional and local level. The report delivers concrete recommendations for policymakers, as well as for the formal education sector and for youth work organisations, on how to increase the impact of young people’s entrepreneurial learning.

You can download the full report here: https://publications.europa.eu/en/publication-detail/-/publication/8f5910d8-6b64-11e7-b2f2-01aa75ed71a1/language-en 

The report includes three annexes available to download:

Annex I – Country reports

Annex II – Inventory of good practices

Annex III – Case study reports