CRPE has continued to document the situation youth aged 16-24 years old who are not included in any form of educational system, employment or training (NEETs) from vulnerable communities, especially Roma, but also of how the Youth Guarantee programme is applied at the regional level and with what effects for those who benefit.
We looked for the realities of small towns and rural areas because Romania has the largest gap among NEETs in the EU. In 2017 the percentage of these young people in rural areas was 23% compared to 10% in urban areas according to monitorsocial.ro.
Hence, we met with the relevant local stakeholders in the village of Gradinari (Olt County) and Campulung (Arges County): authorities, NGOs, LAGs, VET providers, community leaders and NEETs.
Here are some of the toughest situations, but also some of the solutions that worth considering:
1) School leaving – In rural areas, many people from disadvantaged areas fail to complete 8 classes. They do not have access to most of the vocational training courses available on the market because they have not completed compulsory education. The National Employment Agency (ANOFM) carries out a programme equating skills necessary for those who have not completed 8 grades so that they can attend vocational training courses.
2) Programmes such as ”A doua șansă” („Second chance”) and afterschool have had a massive impact in maintaining or returning to the education system of those in disadvantaged communities, especially in rural areas.
The mayor from Grădinari, Olt: ” I have trained 110 adults since I started ”A doua șansă” programme (”Second Chance” programme) in our municipality in 2014. If we manage to awaken parents, to make them realize that it is necessary to know more than to sign documents, they will send their children to school. The situation is different with vocational schools / dual education system. There are more opportunities”.
3) Positive examples in the community – Young people are influenced by models from mass-media of people who reach well-being / notoriety through unconventional means, which negatively influence the way in which they relate to the labor market. Positive examples from the community can counteract this phenomenon. For example, many Roma women have engaged in Câmpulung area in the field of car wiring.
4) Inter-institutional and civil society cooperation at local level. In Câmpulung we have found an example of good practice – a core of institutions that have been collaborating and working for more than 15 years in the Roma communities on youth issues – access to education and integration into the labor market. „Caravana comunităților dezavantajate” („The caravan of disadvantaged communities”) is made up of the County Office for Roma, municipalities, AJOFMs, local NGOs, school and sanitary mediators. They go once a month in one community and address integrated problems of people in disadvantaged groups on the ground.
5) Apprenticeship programmes are hardly implemented or are not funded. Recent legislative changes offer benefits to employers by increasing the subsidy; but local intensive facilitation is needed for this kind of contracts to end. Many times, employers are afraid they will not get that state subsidy, because in many counties they have faced a lack of budget for apprenticeship.
6) Subsidies for labor mobility do not work, at least in the regions where we have documented. The number of people who relocate for a job is very small.
Details of measures that could lead to changes for NEETs will be found in a public policy report with solutions to better access the funds available under the Youth Guarantee Programme.
These meetings were organized together with the Roma Enterprise Development Initiative in the project “Mind the gap! – Facilitating access to and take up of Youth Guarantee measures by Roma youth in Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania” .