4. Justification of the project
The labor market is one of the most important economic and social tools that provide macro and micro economic equilibrium and economic growth in the national economy. Its state has a great influence on all the other markets and the social environment on the regional and national level.
One of the most important goals of the labor market is to form and develop the human capital, meeting the needs of the regional economy. The role of human capital in the development of scientific, technological, economic and social progress in all the spatial levels grows at the ever increasing speed. The quality and competitiveness of human capital which is formed primarily by the education system are the principal requisites for the effective labor market functioning and for the youth employment their role is a paramount.
One of the features of the present situation is the impact of the global economic crisis and its consequences on the EU and Russian economies in general and on the labor market in particular.
In these conditions the need for and the value of an efficient and permanent monitoring system of regional labor markets situation increases. Such monitoring systems can make a strong basis for preventive actions from the state stimulating development of the youth employment.
Tackling youth unemployment is a very important part of the EU agenda. The young (15–24-year-olds) have considerably higher unemployment rates compared to general unemployment; their chances of finding a job are lower and their jobs less stable. Yet at the same time there are about two million unfilled vacancies in the EU despite the crisis. To fulfill the EU target of a 75% employment rate for the working-age population, the situation of young people on the labour market needs to be improved considerably. (European Commission, 2013).
The Nordic report Young People of the Periphery (Unge på Kanten) presents results from the Nordic Program on Globalization Initiative - Health and Welfare that was initiated in 2009. The unemployment among young people in the Nordic countries is much higher than the average unemployment. Especially alarming is the growing group of young people which neither study nor work. Among 10 percent of the young people between 15-24 years are at risk to live their lives in the periphery. The actual statistic information about unemployment in the Nordic countries you can find in this report: http://www.norden.org/sv/publikationer/publikationer/2013-572
There are now 5 million unemployed young people under the age of 25 in the EU. The situation in the Russian Federation is similar – 27% of young people under 25 years do not have job. See http://ec.europa.eu/social/main.jsp?catId=950&langId=en
Border regions, especially in Baltic countries and NW Russia are often economically back-lagging areas, lacking large urban centers, big industries and well developed infrastructure. This leads to even higher rates of youth unemployment. As a consequence, youth migration to the more centrally situated regions of the country or abroad is rather intensive. Cross-border cooperation (CBC) provides unique possibilities to enlarge labour market opportunities; it increases potential of developing innovative, small businesses of international character, which might be an attractive option for young people, especially for them, who do not have a sufficient educational level. Sharing of experiences and creation of joint solutions across the border are important for addressing the challenges.
The project “ComUnYouth” on combating youth unemployment in the border areas of the Baltic Sea and the Barents regions will cover the border regions of the NW Russian, Baltic and Nordic countries, and the project builds on the BEN, BEN-East and the NotaBENe projects – three projects, which consolidated efforts of authorities, NGOs, academic sector, business organizations, and international organizations working with cross-border co-operation in the Baltic Sea Region (BSR) and the Barents Region (BR).
These projects (3 phases of CBC development, implemented during 2005-2013) and a small pre-project “Combating youth unemployment in the border areas of the Baltic sea and the Barents regions” (CBC Phase 4, April-December, 2013) revealed a lack of common instruments and networks on one of the biggest problems of the cross-border territories – youth unemployment.
The project anchors on the priorities of co-operation defined in the “Guidelines for the Nordic Council of Ministers’ cooperation with North-West Russia for 2009-2013” (promotion of democracy and civil society through co-operation on local government and local governance, and co-operation between NGOs).
Following up the Nordic reports and the discussion on the present labour market situation for young people in several of the Nordic countries, the Swedish Presidency of the Nordic Council of Ministers 2013 pays considerable attention this issue throughout the year.
The Government of Russian Federation has since 2008 focused on youth and unemployment, and the state program includes several initiatives and activities to increase employment of young people.
The project target groups are:
- Youth organizations
- Cross-border institutions
- Trade unions, associations of employers, social partners
- Education sector
- Business sector
The geographic scope of the project is mainly limited to the cross-border regions of Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Sweden and Norway and Northwest regions of Leningrad, Pskov, Murmansk, Republic of Karelia and Kaliningrad of the Russian Federation. Other European partners might participate in the project as speakers and experts; best experiences from Europe will be provided by participation of e.g. the AEBR and Council of Europe.
The project will be limited to 19 months of implementation: February 2016 – August 2017.
6. Nordic benefit
The Nordic benefit of the project is that the Nordic Council of Ministers will present results from joint Nordic projects as the Globalization Initiative - Health and Welfare and from the Nordic report Young People on the Periphery and other initiatives to Russian and Baltic target groups but also to Nordic municipalities, regions, and associations which will be invited to the project activities.
The project will also spread Nordic experience and knowledge in the North-West Russian territories thus increasing potential demand for Nordic technologies and solutions.
Knowledge, best practices, and proposals on how to find new solutions for youth unemployment problems in the Baltic Sea Region (BSR) and the Barents Region (BR) will be shared in the project.
The project will contribute to sharing of knowledge, identification of the best practices and developing proposals on how to reduce youth unemployment in cross-border areas between the countries in the BSR and the BR. These countries share the same challenges:
- Youth unemployment is a common problem in the European countries and a research of the issue will give a better understanding of the current situation in all countries involved, including Nordic countries.
- The need of increasing employment for young people in cross-border areas – on both sides of the borders (Russian-Baltic-Nordic).