BACKGROUND

All around the world young people are up to four times more likely to be unemployed than adults. The lack of opportunities can have devastating consequences for their long-term employment outcomes. Youth often lack the competencies and skills that are in high demand from employers, but they also face information gaps about which relevant skills they should signal to prospective employers.

In most European countries, the youth unemployment rate is between 1.5 and 3 times higher than that of the most active segment — workers between 25 and 45 years of age. Since this percentage remains persistently high and also the mismatch between education and employment is quite high, the governments were encouraged to undertake VET reform to increase the quantity and quality of internships and apprenticeships. But in many countries this has generated an excess supply of students looking for an internship but low employer demand.

Business support organisations like Chambers of Commerce, incubators, Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) etc. are in touch with businesses on a daily basis. These organisations employ professional business advisors who provide information, guidance and training to companies. They support SMEs growth and they are typically influential in local and regional development policy. Unfortunately, internships are entirely missing from their portfolio and service provision. In a recent survey less than 5% of business support organisations provided internship information to their SME clients.

How VIP@WORK can help with this problem

VIP@Work seeks to address this situation by building the capacity of business support organisations to develop support structures which will facilitate SMEs to become internship employers. The project is meant to promote work based learning for VET students by actively equipping intermediary organizations with the necessary knowledge, tools and network on VET internship facilitation in their region. Intermediary bodies will improve their knowledge on the internship ‘business case’ and learn about potential sectors where internships can be developed, all to engage SME clients in VET internships.

 

AIM

The aim is to strengthen the business support to organisations who would work as intermediaries, with a goal of unlocking this strong framework to encourage SMEs participation and create a strong connection between enterprises/employers, VET and government.

 

PURPOSE

 

The purpose of the project is to improve the knowledge of business support organisations, who will gain information on potential sectors where internships can be developed in their particular region, but also will be able to quickly incorporate this new knowledge to inform, inspire and train SMEs (via guidance, training courses, mentoring) so they take steps towards employing interns.

PRODUCTS

Internship Desk Set Up Handbook

Four physical and permanent Information Points at (business) support organisations will be setup to create awareness and facilitate company-item matchmaking. We will develop a handbook and a step-by-step plan on how to do so for other interested parties keen to set up Internship Desks themselves.

Online platform and Community

The online platform will be the centre and also the main legacy of the project, where everything comes together to facilitate e-learning, exchange and peer support.

IMPACT

Business support organisations will enhance their professional knowledge and skills regarding internship information and training provision, and use this knowledge with entrepreneurs in practice. This will enable them to develop communication, inspiration, information, training and matchmaking regarding internships for smaller businesses and increase the quality and width of their services to SME clients.

For individuals this project means they will become true ambassadors and regional experts on setting up such programs between SMEs and VET. By surrounding themselves with interested externals from the beginning and involving them in all vital stages of the project, they will be considered the instigators and animators of the innovative initiative of VIP@Work.

The project makes the practice of including interns into SME’s much easier for entrepreneurs, since they are being guided throughout it and gaining the necessary skills for managing the internship processes. In addition, through internships SMEs will gain temporary ‘free’ staff with proper, new and modern knowledge which could result in a potential employee for the company. On the other hands, VIP@Work brings benefits also to the students, for which applying for internship will be more transparent and efficient, meaning their first step into the business world will be more stress-free and pleasant. Moreover, students will gain relevant working experience and develop themselves as proper and high qualified employees for the companies that can also be their future employers, resulting in a win-win situation.

On a local and regional level, due to strong ties and high involvement of all key stakeholders, we expect a strong external impact to be made with any event, every activity and every output of the project. At the same time, networks will expanded and tightened during the project, ensuring strong cross-sectorial uptake of the project outcomes and an integrated approach of local partners working together.

The project will create a national awareness amongst business support organisations and other intermediaries with also having an impact across countries. Open Educational Resources will be developed and promoted in different languages to optimise usability and impact on national levels.

On international and European level, we want to connect relevant business and educational networks to learn from each other, and in the long term to increase employment of youth.

This project has been funded with support from the European Commission.
This publication [communication] reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.