Belgium: Make it Work, coaching and employment of young people
“A lot of time and care is spent on these young people through child care, social assistance and juvenile courts.When they enter the labour market jungle, this social investment threatens to be lost.”
Dealing with social problems
Make it Work wants to offer an answer to different social problems, including increasing juvenile delinquency, the recurrence rate in Flanders after leaving prison and rising youth unemployment.
- Increasing juvenile delinquency: the influx of annual files for offences at Flemish juvenile prosecutors' offices is on the rise.
- Recurrence rate in Flanders: approximately 70% of prisoners in Belgium appear in front of a judge again after having been released.
- Youth unemployment: young people who leave school prematurely are extra vulnerable on the labour market.
Within youth unemployment, the situation of the NEET youngsters (Not in Employment, Education or Training) is even more precarious. Of all NEET youngsters in 2019, 28.3% were unemployed, 21.7% not professionally active with a desire to work and 50% not professionally active without a desire to work. This means that barely half of them is either looking for a job or wants to work. It's these young adults that Make it Work wants to help find a job.
One third of the NEET youngsters has never followed a track at VDAB (Flemish Office for Employment and Professional Training) or OCMW (Public Centre for Social Welfare). They are dealing with multiple problems: they are combining a precarious home situation with a low education rate, limited network and a lack of experience and the right attitudes. Their biggest obstacle is the absence of a certificate of good conduct. Employers see this as something essential. Moreover, these young people often have a dislike towards public services, as a result of which they often stay under the radar of VDAB for example.
This is where Make it Work can make a difference. Make it Work has developed a strong network of judges in juvenile courts, houses of justice, and many social organisations that show these young adults the way to Make it Work. There, they receive an individual and intensive coaching track for sustainable employment or to (re)start their training. This positive transition to the labour market is obtained thanks to coaches, but with job hunters as well.
The coaches start by means of an intake interview, a declaration of commitment, a step-by-step plan and a motivation interview. Every year, some 132 intakes are done by 4 coaches. Based on those, they start up an individual coaching track. The current situation and untapped talents are mapped out in a safe way. There is room for self-awareness and this is often very practical: for example, being on time for important appointments is essential in finding a job.
After that, it's up to the job hunters. After the track with the coaches, the young people feel more confident and are more sure of themselves. A job hunter of the WaW selection office interviews the young person and actively looks for a sustainable and fitting job. With the coach and the employer, the job hunter guides application interviews, mediates and follows up on the young person after they start work.
Reinforcing a vulnerable target group
Reducing youth unemployment and recurrence rate: those aren't easy objectives to achieve. Therefore, there are underlying objectives that we work on continuously:
- Objective 1: Stimulate long-term vision and sense of responsibility
Together, we draw up a job target and learn how to work towards a bigger goal in small steps and take responsibility for this.
- Objective 2: Expand the network
The young person's network is expanded with coaches and job consultants, volunteers, employers and colleagues, who encourage them and offer them permanent support.
- Objective 3: Stimulate a sense of civic responsibility
We work on the negative attitude towards government or police services in order to regain trust in them again. But we also want to activeat the young people: for example, we work with City Pirates, where they voluntarily give training to children.
Make it Work wants to integrate these young people in society and thus offer them future prospects. Thanks to a sustainable job and positive experience on the labour market, they can be independent and make their dreams come true.
"I had an especially difficult time, and sometimes relapsed because I'm so deep in debt. My coach helped me to find my motivation again. I was welcomed very warmly here, in all respects, and don't know where I would have been today if it weren't for them. I can see a lot of changes in myself. I'm seeing life in a positive light again, am no longer so frustrated and I’m determined to go for this. When I have a bad day, I can hear my coach in my head saying: you've got this, you can do it. I could call her my guardian angel."