Archive of European Projects

Be Positive: A positive psychological approach to enhancing resilience and utilising strengths in European unemployed youth.
Start date: 01 Sep 2014, End date: 31 Aug 2016 PROJECT  FINISHED 

The rationale for the project was derived from the combined experience of health psychology researchers and practitioners who work for organisations providing vocational training and/or guidance counselling at national and European levels. The youth unemployment in Europe had reached a staggering 23.5% in the EU27. In this unemployed youth group, there is also a subgroup named NEETs – Young people not in employment, education or training, the figure for this group have varied in Europe from below 7% to over 17% in countries like Bulgaria and Spain for example. NEETs are a highly heterogeneous population. The largest subgroup tends to be those who are conventionally unemployed. Some young people are at greater risk than others. Those with low levels of education are three times more likely to be NEET compared to those with tertiary education, while young people with an immigrant background are 70% more likely to become NEET than nationals. Young people suffering from some kind of disability or health issues are 40% more likely to be NEET than those in good health. Being a NEET has severe adverse consequences for the individual, society and the economy. The objective of the project have been to develop a new innovative method of training courses to empower young unemployed individuals and/or NEETs. The partners involved in the project were from Austria, Bulgaria, Greece, Spain and Sweden, all highly experienced organisations that work directly with the target groups as well as representing countries that has high youth unemployment. The partner from the United Kingdom was engaged as the expert in positive psychology and psychosocial interventions. The specific aim was achieved by using an approach based upon previous work on stress, coping and resilience in health and occupational psychology. In the project, we prepared participants to not only adapt to potentially stressful events and successfully assimilate these, but also to use these potential stressors as opportunities for positive growth based on identification and utilisation of key Positive Psychology constructs and processes. Furthermore, we focused on the potential stressors likely to be encountered by unemployed younger adults seeking employment or entrepreneurial opportunity. It was seen as necessary to empower young people by creating favourable conditions for them to develop their skills and to work and participate actively in society. This was concidered essential for sound and sustainable economic and social development. This was accomplished by developing a training curriculum "Be Positive" in modular form. It was implemented on 100 – 150 young unemployed and/or NEETs in the partner countries (AT, BG, ES, GR, SE) and ensured the effectiveness and cultural adaptation. The result was evaluated and modified where required. The final product is available for free via the project website. The impact was the following: - Increased the staffs' awareness of their capacity in the partners’ organisation to act as role models and curators of learning Report Form environments which value diversity in appearance and promote social inclusion. - Increased the staffs' awareness of cultural appearance and beauty norms and they way in which different cultural appearance norms may affect the social integration in our European society. - Provided strategies and resources that can be integrated into current guidance counselling and vocational training provisions - Provided growth and insight for young unemployed and/or NEET via the developed material for young unemployed and/or NEET that will consequently prepare them to handle the current difficult labour market in Europe in the participating organisations. - Furthermore, the training made them more resilient for the psychosocial stress associated with being unemployed and therefore consequently improved their quality of life. - Between 150 – 200 guidance counsellors, vocational trainers or other relevant stakeholders were involved in training seminars at National Multiplier events in AT, BG, ES, GR and SE. Since the developed program is easily studied via self-directed learning, the organisations that have been exposed to the project via the extensive dissemination/exploitation plan can easily incorporate it and consequently ensure a pragmatic sustainability. The end result was that organisations got a resource that is both sensitive to psychological issues relevant to this group, as well as being constructive and positively focused. Participants are better psychologically prepared both to cope and manage positively with the difficulties of being unemployed/NEET, whilst also being enabled and empowered to identify personal strengths and meaningful goals to facilitate the search for engagement with economically productive activity.
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