Romania’s invisible Generation-We hit the target but we miss the point!

Arrow on red target - business concept

About Young people and rights

Arrow on red target - business concept

Working for the rights of young people in NEET situations (young people not in employment education or training) is the result of years of activism with Youth led organizations, while gradually understanding that outside of the “organized sector” there are many young people whose voice remains unheard and who seldom have the possibility to actually know their rights.
With this in mind, and in a national context of void of research or governmental initiatives, together with Social DOers we have decided to better understand what is the current situation of these young people as well as of those who already work for them (Youth Workers) and how we can support their efforts (including the organizations) in order to ensure better services for the young NEETs.

Furthermore, being actively involved at European level, we wanted to understand to what extent has Romania taken into account the recommendations of EU institutions and how it used the financial allocations.

“Young NEETs” – where are they and why do we speak about them?

Young people in NEET situations are not a new phenomenon, for many years we have worked with them or at least we have known that somewhere there are young unemployed, school drop-outs or young people who come from “disadvantaged” backgrounds (parents who immigrated to work and left their children behind, families with low income etc.). Nevertheless, we often disregard what happens with a young person who is in all of these situations-the NEET situations.

So far, reality shows that once young people get in NEET situations they mostly become invisible. They are out of public institutions’ evidence, without access to social services, and while for those under 18 there might be some institutional tracking, after this age the situation is, to say the least, uncertain (since they are not anymore registered in formal education institutions, or in the employment agencies…or anywhere else).

At the end of 2015, Romania can only estimate the number of young people n these situations (aprox. 4440.000), without specifically knowing where they are and what they do.

Therefore we are confronted with questions like – where are they and what is going on with this “Invisible Generation”?

Public institutions don’t have (yet) a permanent mechanism to reach them and, thus, they can’t offer them the services they might need.

The European funding, that has been used so far, doesn’t show efficient solutions-since 2007, when Romania started to have access to structural funding, until 2014, the percentage of young people in NEET situations increased form 13,3% to 17%.


“We hit the target, but we miss the point”

An expression used by one of the most experienced Youth Workers I have ever met and from whom I have learned what “NEET” means – Howard Williamson (also a well known professor and expert in European Youth policies).

Although the expression might trigger some smiles at first sight, it fits like a glove to the approach we’ve had so far towards the NEET issue. Much too often we have used the (already) classic measure: professional counseling-training/internships or entrepreneurship, in a context where the situation of young NEETs is very diverse: from young people who dropped out of school (before graduating from compulsory education) to higher education graduates who can’t find a job; from young people who are socially excluded (for health issues, not having support in raising their children etc.) to young people who don’t accept a job if it doesn’t meet their professional expectations.


“One size DOESN’T fit all”

Trainings or internships can’t be used as the only measure for integrating young NEETs. Efficient labor market integration needs an integrated and personalized approach, according to the particular needs of young people. Furthermore, experiences of those who have already worked with young people in NEET situations show that finding a job is not the only issue, but also keeping it. Therefore, the measures addressed to young NEETs should include a mixture of job skills development as well as a tailored approach to the personal needs, especially for those who are inactive or in NEET situations for long periods of time.

Last, but not least, we notice a need for more measures of Prevention and Early intervention.


All these issues, and much more, were at the core of our initiative “NGO Coalition for the Rights of Young NEETs-Investing in Social DOers”.

At the end of the project we are happy to say that we can better grasp the NEET phenomenon and all the results will allow us to build on everything that was achieved. Further on, we plan to strengthen the cooperation with both public institutions and youth workers, in order to ensure that young people in NEET situations have real Access to their Rights.

Veronica STEFAN

President & Co-Founder, Social DOers

Read the full study Social Costs of Young People in NEET situations, a Romanian Overview and the achieved results of the NGO Coalition for the Rights of Young NEETs, a project funded by EEA & Norway Grants through the NGO Fund in Romania!