The term “Industry 4.0” encompasses the shift to digitalization and the transformation of traditional economic models to digital ones. Due to the digitalization, Industry 4.0 supposes that new job positions will be created based on the skills and knowledge sets that had not existed prior, meaning that the current formal education programs do not address the future needs for employment. There has been an increase in demand in Serbia in recent years regarding the need among employers for potential employees who are able to meet these criteria.
Research has shown that there is a high percentage of NEET population in Serbia (19%), yet the NEET population is characterized by possessing low levels of motivation and self-confidence as well as a lack of interest in social events and insufficient skills to find gainful employment. The NEET population consists of young people who are not employed, nor in education or in training, as well as youth not strictly characterized as NEET – those either unemployed or whose occasional work does not constitute even part-time employment and does not establish them as active members of the labor force. Simply put, it refers to the youth that is not part of the system (half the NEET population in Serbia are inactive youth).
The complexity of the problem constitutes the need for cross-sectoral cooperation and combining resources – by establishing a collaboration between those that work closely with the NEET population, those who can support them in obtaining the knowledge and skills for employment, and the employers themselves. In creating innovative and integrated services for increasing youth employment, outreach, and capacity-building in line with the needs of Industry 4.0, NEET youth will become part of the system.
In combating the problem, as part of the project “My Career from Zero to Hero”, Centre for Youth Work conducted field research on the possibilities of creating and implementing an innovative model of integrated services (the one-stop-shop model) to increase employment among NEET youth in line with the needs of Industry 4.0.
125 youth, 35 Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), 34 IT companies and SMEs, as well as the representatives of the institutions that work closely with youth took part in the research, with the aim of mapping out the needs of the youth and the key stakeholders of the one-stop-shop youth employability model.
Based on the results of the research, the following conclusions and recommendations were made:
- In the current strategic framework, CSOs are not sufficiently recognized as actors who can conduct employment activities. The next necessary step would be to include CSOs in the framework with the aim of using their capacities to provide support in the employment process. More specifically, a more active role of CSOs in NEET youth outreach which would instigate the cooperation with a network of National Employment Services, Local Governments, and Youth Offices, in the process of identifying the needs of NEET youth, collecting data on NEET youth, their competencies, the problems they face and their needs. In creating stimulative measures on a local level, targeting the civil sector aimed at increasing motivation to deal with NEET youth problems, CSO capacities will be developed for working with NEET youth, a network of CSOs will be created, and significance will be place on their active role in social entrepreneurship activities.
- Considering that the current National Strategy for Employment implemented between 2011-2020 has not recognized NEET youth as a vulnerable category on the labor market, the next strategy planned for 2021-2026 will need to introduce NEET as a specific category facing more difficulty in finding employment within the strategic documents, which means including them in the operative indicators that would follow, as well as creating new measures specifically for NEET.
- Finding innovative ways to approach NEET youth in collaboration with local youth associations and associations for youth, Local Governments, and the civil sector; specifically, those NEET with an inactive status. Combining contacting them through the social media that they use (e.g., Instagram, YouTube, etc.) and directly through filed work at the places they spend time at.
- Combining multiple levels of support in employability and employment of NEET youth which implies a set of services – support to NEET youth to increase motivation and self-confidence, helping them be more informed, strengthening their soft skills and building specific technical knowledge on the one hand (first level of support) and skills (computer skills, increasing digital competencies, etc.) in line with Industry 4.0 on the other (second level of support).
- Creating informal educational programs and training for NEET youth and building a curriculum alongside the business sector and in line with the needs of the labor market, including the specific needs on a local level. A significant part of the process of implementing an informal educational program would include enterprises contributing through training, seminars, lectures, and creating internship programs.
- Defining the contents of informal educational programs and their duration in line with the real needs and abilities of youth, their free time, and the needs of the labor market. The recommended duration of the training is no shorter than a month, but no longer than 6 months.
The full mapping study is available here.
Based on these recommendations the Centre for Youth Work, alongside its partners from the business and public sector, created the one stop-shop-model, a model of integrated services to increase NEET youth employability, to be implemented starting October 2021. 50 young people will take part in a six-month training program that will result in obtaining necessary skills, and building the confidence that will lead them to step into the labor market and find employment. Whether integrated services are the answer to the needs of Industry 4.0 – we will find out after