14 SES 08 A, COVID-19 and Challenges (2)
Today when megatrends (globalization, technological development, demography, and climate change) (EY, 2020; Dyson, 2005) are changing the world very rapidly and the Covid-19 pandemic is shaping our life in different ways (OECD, 2020; UNESCO, 2020; Daniel 2020), increasing the skills needed for success in work and personal life is very important. Even highly-skilled adults will need to upskill and reskill (OECD, 2020; Tindemans, Dekocker 2020).
Sustainable development goals (2015), OECD Skills Strategy (2019), different EU and national strategies are creating for better future nevertheless extremely problematic socio-educational challenges remain unresolved: NEET and Early school leavers as the subculture of NEETs. European countries defined NEET as young people aged between 15 and 24 years who are not in employment, education, or training (Eurofund, 2013).
Young people who are neither in employment nor in education or training are at risk of becoming socially excluded, pose many challenges to society (Brendtro, Brokenleg, Bockern, 2002): unemployment, criminal behavior, poverty, particularly poor mental health, poor social skills and etc. (Petruskeviciute, 2013, 2015; Downes, 2006; 2011; Tamesberger, 2020).
Globally in 2020, more than 22.4 percent (one in five) of young people aged 15–24 were neither in employment, education, or training (NEET) (ILO/SIDA, 2020). The adoption of the NEET rate is part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, as an indicator of progress towards the Sustainable Development Goal (8.6). In EU27, the rate of NEETs had fallen to 12.6%, the lowest point in 10 years, but in the Post-COVID era the number of young people who are NEET will increase from 4.7 to 6.7 million, leading to a NEET rate of 14%: it means that one in every seven young people in the European Union will be in a NEET situation (Bacher, Tamesberger, 2020). NEETs emerged as one of the most vulnerable groups following the 2008–2013 Great Recession (Eurofound, 2020).
Policymakers, experts, different communities at the national and international level should react as quickly as possible and make great efforts to avoid these negative scenarios. However, it is first necessary to identify the challenges of NEET youth group faces in the COVID-19 era.
The aim of the research: To identify and prioritize the needs of NEETs during the COVID-19 pandemic, and help to gain a better understanding of the practical needs of NEET groups in different communities.
Research question: What is the challenges facing one of the most socially vulnerable groups: youth belonging to NEETs.
RQ1: How NEETs has been affected by COVID-19 pandemics in different EU countries?
RQ2: What assistance is being provided to NEETs to overcome the difficulties caused to them by the pandemic.
The object of the research: The international community of young people who are not in education, employment, and training (NEET).
The complexity of the socio-educational problem examined in the study ( challenges of NEETs during the Covid-19 pandemic) required several research methods (Pooper, 2002), therefore the mixed research method (Creswell, Clark, 2008) was chosen. The methodology of “mixed methods” integrates different methods to achieve something that would have been impossible with just one method (Wisdom, Creswell, 2013). This research was „mixing“ quantitative and qualitative data. The integration of quantitative and qualitative data in the form of a mixed-methods study has great potential to enrich the analysis and findings evaluation: 10 quantitative, 7 qualitative, as well as 9 demographic questions, were formulated for the research. Participants of research: International experts of European Cooperation in Science and Technology (COST) network – Action 18213 „Rural NEET Youths Network members“ and relevant stakeholders from different EU countries: researchers, educational outreach specialists, social workers, teachers, youth workers. More participants were from countries belonging to Inclusiveness Target Countries (ITCs): Albania, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Turkey, Serbia, Spain, Lithuania and etc. There were 61 (n=61) participants, most of them from public or state-funded organizations, non-profit/non-governmental organizations. The involvement in the research was voluntary. The survey was online with the possibility to answer the questions of the qualitative research in writing or respond by video-conference (skype, zoom, WhatsApp). The survey was conducted during the first quarantine of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The research findings show that unemployment, financial instability, and lack of social relations (Family relationships / other relationships) are the biggest challenges for NEETs during the COVID-19 pandemic. The main problematic challenges of NEETs between rural and urban areas were also highlighted: NEET rural youth have a poor social environment, lack of positive socialization programs, often have difficult access to new technologies, the internet, were more isolated from social life, and lose the opportunity to access many things. Young people from urban areas have had far more opportunities in employment, education, whether formal or informal. From another side NEET rural youth were able to enjoy a better quality of life: enjoy open spaces and not being locked up in small, crowded apartments. The study revealed that nothing specific to NEETs has been activated, all the efforts have focused on the health aspect, given the seriousness of the situation, and on economic aspects related to enterprises. Only some NGOs offered education and training opportunities through online platforms. However, many young people have cell phones with internet access they show great difficulties in accessing and handling digital content. The study also identified suggestions on how to address NETTs in extreme pandemic conditions: to create digital tools such as apps of social media, to develop more specific outreach approaches according to different NEETs profile (long-term unemployed, short-term unemployed, disabled youths, youth providing family care, etc.), to decentralize public services outreach approaches with the involvement of NGOs; to raise the number of training opportunities in rural areas; to create specific financial incentives to involve NEETs (e.g. scholarships). According to experts policymakers, different communities at the international, national, and local levels should build up more help systems for NEETs and learn out of the pandemic.
Brendtro L., Brokenleg M., Bockern S. (2002) Reclaiming. Youth at Risk: Our Hope for the Future. National Educational Service Daniel S. J. (2020) Education and the COVID-19 pandemic. Springer. Downes P. Multi/Interdisciplinary teams for early school leaving prevention: Developing a European Strategy informed by international evidence and research. Research Paper for European Commission Network of Experts on the Social Aspects of Education and Training (NESET) (2011) Creswell J, Fetters M, Ivankova N. Designing a mixed methods study in primary care. Ann Fam Med 2004;2(1):7–12. Creswell J, Clark P. Designing and conducting mixed methods research. 2nd ed. ThousandOaks, CA: Sage; 2011. Clark P., Creswell (2013).The mixed methods reader. SAGE. ILO/SIDA partnership on employment (2020). Young people not in employment, education or training. Technical brief NO 3 OECD (2020). Securing the recovery, ambition, and resilience for the well-being of children in the post-COVID-19 decade. 28 January 2021. OECD (2019). Skills Strategy Skills to Shape a Better Future. OECD (2020). Policy Responses to Coronavirus (COVID-19). The territorial impact of COVID-19: Managing the crisis across levels of government. 10 November 2020 Eurofund (2020). NEETs. 2 December 2020. chttps://www.eurofound.europa.eu/topic/neets Petruskeviciute A. (2015). Redistribution of power during the educational interaction in the context of productive learning: grounded theory. Dissertation. LEU. Tamesberger D., Bacher J. (2020), COVID-19 Crisis: How to Avoid a ‘Lost Generation’. Intereconomics. Volume 55, 2020 · Number 4 · pp. 232–238. Tindemans B., Dekocker V. (2020). The learning society. Centre of Expertise on Innovative Learning Pathways. Brussels, September 2020
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