“Contributing to self-reliance among young people between the ages of 18 and 27 in the job market in Twente.” That is the ambition of the Youth Charge of Job Market Twente (Jongerenoffensief Werkplein Twente) and the JCI in Twente, as they join forces for this project. By bringing together all their combined knowledge and experience in the employment market, job coaching and entrepreneurship, they have created an enormous ‘think tank’ through which regular regional events can be organized for young job seekers.
´Motivating the youth to act is our biggest challenge’, says Annerieke Mollink. ´They need a lot of attention to help them get started, so the investment in time is considerable. By addressing this regionally, that investment can be shared by multiple chapters. We organize multiple events throughout the year. The idea is that the power of repetition can help keep these young job seekers active.’
‘The New Lost Generation’
Unemployed youths up to the age of 27 deserve special attention, as they are one of the most vulnerable groups in the job market. The exact number of youth affected is difficult to determine since the definition of unemployment status has changed in the last few years. Data published for the first quarter showed youth unemployment averaging around 10% depending on which definition was used. In the spring of 2017, there were approximately 2,700 young people registered as looking for work in the Twente region. However, a large group of unemployed youth is invisible: those who are no longer in school but don’t yet have a job, and haven’t registered with the unemployment office (UWV) or applied for benefits. In addition to a disappointing start after just finishing school, some also owe student loans to the education office (DUO). These are a few of the reasons they have been called ‘the new lost generation.’
Everyone has the right to a decent start to a career and in society. This is not only a local or regional issue; it is also a national problem. Through the 1000 Chances project, JCI Nederland has been able to offer many opportunities for young people over the past five years. These young people have around 40 years left in the job market. We cannot yet imagine what changes are to come in that time and what impact they will have on society. The disruptive world we live in doesn’t make things any easier.
A part of the problem is that these young people have no idea where to start. The market moves so quickly, and the changes are already difficult for someone with experience. What must it be like when you have no experience? The value JCI can add is experience, a network, and the doors to the job market that can be opened , simply because together we are the job market. These are the chances JCI offers job seekers. Organizing a project such as 1000 Chances fits several aspects of the JCI Mission. Not only does it create social impact, but it also creates a connection between youth and local business. We show young people that a networking conversation can also lead to an employment opportunity.
The Youth Charge of the Job Market Twente is organized by three enthusiastic youth advisors who are passionate about their work, always ready to roll up their sleeves, and putting the needs of young people first. The Project Coordinator is an especially driven youth advocate, and highly capable of mobilizing people in the various sectors.
Working with the Youth Charge is a blast
The risk of a cooperative project between the volunteer members of JCI and paid public sector employees is that unrealistic expectations can sometimes arise. The JCI members do also have their own full-time jobs in addition to their volunteer work for the 1000 Chances project.
´For us, it is a blast to work with the Youth Charge,’ says JCI member Milou Vaartjes.´It brings a lot of energy. We share our successes, and make introductions in our respective networks. The partnership is a win-win situation for us.’
We are the business owners and managers who can create jobs for these young people. We may not have all the answers, and they are the ones who must do the work. But what we can do is extend a hand and give them tips on how to flip a disappointing start around into a positive start. And all we have to do is mobilize our network, share our knowledge and put a little effort into helping someone who could be our future colleague.
That is exactly what happened at our event in April 2017. During the convention we organized, more than 14 chances were offered to 25 job seekers. After two months, four of those young people had found a job thanks to the network of JCI chapters in Twente. That is exactly why we do this, and how JCI demonstrates its social impact!
‘Thanks to JCI Twente’s 1000 Chances Event, I was introduced to my current employer by one of the participants. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for organizing the event. When you organize another event, do let me know so that I can spread the word in my network.’
(Participant at the JCI 1000 Chances Twente event, April 2017).