Combating unemployment rates in youth is high in the European Agenda. Specifically, those between 19 to 29 years old that are “Not in Employment, Education or Training”, the so-called NEETs, are a priority. Youth unemployment, or unemployment in general, was always an issue, especially in specific European Economies such as Greece or Spain. With youth unemployment rates in Greece peaking at 58.2% in 2013 while still maintaining high overall unemployment rates of 17.6% in adults as of June 2019, it is evident that there needs to be a solution to deal with this issue. According to research, developing digital competencies in NEETs proves to be an effective measure that solves short-term and long-term challenges.
Why are NEETs high in the European agenda?
Technically, when we are talking about NEETs, we essentially talk about social exclusion. Combatting people marginalization is high in the European agenda and incorporated in several goals of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
In this case, however, as we discuss young people who are essentially our future, it should concern everyone. Practically, young people out of employment, education, or training sign that society has failed this young generation. These young people are at one of the most productive stages in their lives, and their talents and potentials remain untapped.
Following the technological advancements of the time, it is never too late for NEETs to jump on the digital skills bandwagon to significantly increase their employability and be part of the digital revolution that is going on.
Critical Digital Competencies for NEETS
Technological evolution at a breakneck speed has created a tremendous demand in digital skills and across industries as they have become widely relevant. For example, in fields that we would have never thought that digital skills would be applicable, like in the medical field, digital skills for NEETs hold great potential.
Some of the most sought digital competencies for NEETs include coding and software development skills to develop different kinds of digital products. From websites to smartphone applications to video games development, these are areas that are high in demand and create well-paying job positions.
Nevertheless, to succeed in the above sectors, someone needs to be competitive as they require a high level of digital competencies that NEETs need to acquire. But, digital skills nowadays can take you a long way. You don’t necessarily need to become a developer, but as that business flourish, so do other complementary businesses or sectors. Having a good knowledge of technology and technical concepts, someone can find various opportunities in customer care, technical support, or sales of technological products to give some examples.
Even if these sectors do not sound interesting, digitization has penetrated all businesses, and digital skills are always necessary.
European governments should focus on developing digital competencies in NEETs as there is a booming industry behind that they can find meaningful and well-paid job positions. That way, the digital sector will have access to a broader pool of talents to cover its needs for human resources for various positions. By investing in digital skills, NEETs can have a better and more stable professional life.
Something similar to the above does the DIG IN Erasmus+ European Project. With a focus on youth NEETs, the project partners seek to equip young people with digital skills to increase their employability and increase their motivation to become active participants in society.