In 2012, youth monitoring focuses on social inclusion of youth, which consists in the possibilities young people have for self-realization in the society in accordance with their abilities and wishes. Social inclusion is contrasted with exclusion, which consists in decreased social participation, feelings of debility and disappointment and distancing from society. Main risk factors include socio-economic inequity and unequal treatment for different social groups.
NEETs (young people who are “Not in Education, Employment, or Training”), are more vulnerable to social exclusion. There are 35 000–40 000 NEETs in Estonia. NEETs form a heterogenous group of people with different statuses, experiences and attitudes. There are long-term unemployed, unofficial casual workers, mothers of young children, criminals, people with physical or mental disabilities as well as adventure-seekers.
Figure 1. Changes in the proportion of NEETs in Estonia by age groups, 2002-2011, %
For preventing social exclusion it is important to:
- avoid the discontinuation of studies. More attention should be paid to the needs of young people, the flexibility of studies, psychological counseling and social work activities.
- enable possibilities for continuing professional training in the case of discontinued studies. Work-based learning is a suitable solution. Active labour market policies such as income support, labour measures and psychological counseling in combination may also contribute. Employers that would offer young people work, internships and work-based learning are also required.
- offer NEETs, who are dissatisfied and have low confidence in people, opportunities for developing social skills and restoring self-confidence. Youth work has a considerable role herein: participating in youth projects and volunteering help in developing social skills required in the labour market and in personal life. Since NEETs include people of varying backgrounds, their versatility and individual interests and needs should accounted for. For example, opportunities for starting a business and help with career planning should be provided. Additionally, discouraged youth need psychological counseling and support.
- take the needs of young people into account by including them in the process of decision-making. Measures that have been coordinated with the needs and interests of youth are more effective. However, young people have low interest in inclusion, especially in decisions that do not directly influence them. Therefore, the means for youth involvement should be improved and developing courage in young people to actively attend to issues that surround them should be supported. Although inclusive youth work offers great opportunities for this by means of youth environmental and community development projects, volunteer work, youth councils, etc., reaching those in need of help is complicated.
In diminishing youth exclusion and increasing social inclusion, the key is to take into account the versatile needs of young people and to combine different measures. Effective solutions to increasing the social inclusion of youth can be created only in cooperation of different institutions such as schools, youth centers, the unemployment insurance fund, employers, and different volunteer and youth organizations.