Key lessons on how to tackle unemployment in Southern Europe

Key lessons on how to tackle unemployment in Southern Europe

A young person living in Southern Europe today is five times less likely to be employed than someone born only several hundred miles away, in Germany. With youth unemployment rates averaging nearly 50% in some areas of the region, an increasingly frustrated population has been turning to both policy makers and entrepreneurs for help.

The landscape of unemployment isn’t entirely hopeless, high impact solutions are emerging in impressive new ways. Since 2009, through his organization, Career Moves, Gregor Demblin has promoted over 12,000 jobs for people with disabilities with over 450 companies in Austria. The question is: how can we get the ideas that work to travel across borders and work on a countrywide level?

With this in mind, 30 social entrepreneurs from ten countries, joined in 2014 THIS WORKS initiative to support a process of recovery in Southern Europe by scaling and adapting solutions that work in Italy, Spain and Greece. First step - an intensive program called GlobalizerX aimed at supporting them to develop scaling strategies together with strategic advisors. When ready, they were invited to Southern Europe to present their plans, find partners locally and develop an action plan.


Moving focus: From job-seeking to Job-creation


In Germany, ProjektFabrik’s JobAct® leads young people through a programme of theatre, work experience and reflection, empowering them to take up employment. Brought to GlobalizerX to tackle the problems of Southern Europe, Sandra Schurman of ProjektFabrik sought to expand the hugely successful programme to Italy.


Confronted by the troubles of the Italian economy, she initially struggled to develop the scaling strategy. The limited job opportunities in the Italian market, thwarted the concept of simply empowering and supporting the individual. It became clear that scaling JobAct® in Southern Europe would require a change of thinking, instead of trying to place individuals into jobs, Sandra realized the need to change the system, tackling unemployment through creating jobs not only creating the skills required by the jobs.

Through the GlobalizerX acceleration, it became clear that Projekt Fabrik methodology could be adapted: To encourage youth to overcome passivity, to equip them with soft skills and the drive to retrain or to create their own enterprises.



Top-down models are overrated. Partners for change


The GlobalizerX team worked beyond the tired clichés of the unemployed as powerless. Tearing down the traditional hierarchies of the job creation José Peridis proved that given the right tools to grow, share and support, jobseekers can go beyond finding placements to creating their own jobs. He delivered his ideas through Lanzaderas, a career boosting, social enterprise programme.


Lanzaderas brings together teams of 20 people with a coach to find employment or set up entrepreneurial solutions. Since 2013, when the first pilots took place, this collective empowerment programme reached over 3000 people, 60% of whom found a job and 25% started their entrepreneurial initiatives. The success of Lanzaderas brought the Region of Cantabria to adopt the model as a public employment policy and convinced the Spanish Government to fund its expansion to 550 Lanzaderas by 2016.


In expanding and scaling the model, Peridis’s team decided to focus on the core of their solution: the methodology. They aim to spread the Lanzaderas model by partnering up with key cross-sector players in a broader range of regions. They will focus upon training professionals, inspiring local changemakers, sharing measurement and setting common standards in order to encourage local adaptation. Lanzaderas are looking to use a smart network around the common mission of fostering employment to create a collective impact. In Italy, they are organising on May 12-13 a local workshop in Milan to attract local partners to co-create and adapt the model in the country.


“You have to find the right person and the problem is solved”-Robert Bosch


Christian Vainzette’s Make Sense is a community-based organisation that’s tackling major problems for new social entrepreneurs. In the attempt to scale Make Sense beyond the current 100 cities worldwide, Vanizette acknowledged the importance of building a stronger business model. For this, he restructured the organization, empowering his staff to take over his role. He is now in charge of business development while local entrepreneurs in Spain, Italy and Greece are in charge of expanding the model further.