Feasibility Study on NEETs:
In 2022, a dedicated team of Reach for Change in the Baltics and Sweden supported by a grant from the European Union conducted a feasibility study with the aim of understanding the phenomenon of young people not in education, employment, or training (NEETs). The study focused on the needs and challenges faced by social entrepreneurs working with this target group, and how to best support them in delivering their services. The study involved three markets: Sweden, Latvia, and Lithuania, and gathered insights from 21 stakeholders through interviews, correspondence, and co-creation workshops.
Promoting Transnational Exchange:
The study aimed to test the hypothesis that the challenges faced by social entrepreneurs in different nations are similar and that encouraging transnational exchange would enhance access to resources, solutions, and collaboration among entrepreneurs and innovators working with NEETs. The ultimate goal was to ensure that more NEETs receive the necessary support from social entrepreneurs at a local level.
The study engaged stakeholders from the public sector, including employees from municipalities, as well as representatives from the private sector and NGOs, specifically those involved in social innovation and entrepreneurship. It became evident that the causes and consequences of NEETs in Sweden, Latvia, and Lithuania are multifaceted, with each individual presenting unique backgrounds, vulnerabilities, and aspirations.
Role of Social Entrepreneurs:
Existing efforts to support NEETs, primarily led by public sector agencies with limited mandates, often lack coordination, cohesion, and the long-term, tailored approach necessary for effective support. This is where social entrepreneurs can make a significant impact with their locally-rooted, innovative interventions. Social entrepreneurs, many of whom come from the target groups themselves, possess the ability to foster trust and a deep understanding of the support needed to uplift individuals from their challenging situations.
Challenges Faced by Social Entrepreneurs:
Despite their potential to bring about positive change, social entrepreneurs encounter difficulties in securing financing and accessing relevant networks and information. Through the feasibility study, their expressed need for increased access to stakeholders, including fellow social entrepreneurs, has become apparent. Thus, the establishment of a transnational network for social entrepreneurs working in this thematic area has been identified as crucial. Such a network would provide flexible, peer-based support, benefiting both social entrepreneurs and the individuals they serve.
The feasibility study has shed light on the complex causes and societal consequences of NEETs in Sweden, Latvia, and Lithuania. It has emphasized the value of a cohesive, tailored, and needs-based approach offered by social entrepreneurs, who possess the ability to address the unique challenges faced by individuals. By facilitating transnational exchange and creating a network of social entrepreneurs, greater collaboration, knowledge-sharing, and access to resources can be achieved. This, in turn, will result in improved outcomes for both social entrepreneurs and the individuals they are dedicated to supporting. It is through collective efforts and innovative solutions that we can empower NEETs to overcome obstacles and thrive in society.