EEA Norway, entrepreneurship, Entrepreneurship in Europe, Erasmus+, European Entrepreneurship, Interreg Atlantic, NEETs, Startups, Underemployed, Unemployed

NEETS Paint A Picture of Underemployment in Europe


Since the 90s, the European Union Labour Force Survey had been conducted in the 28 Member States of the European Union plus three countries of the European Free Trade Association with the aim of reporting harmonised data on the European workforce.  Each year, the survey contains data on population, employment, working time, permanency of a job, professional status, and other indicators used to understand participation in the labour market. The data is commonly broken down by age, gender, education level, economic activity and occupation where applicable. It is the main data source for the domain ’employment and unemployment’ in the database – but not for underemployment. This is the term applied primarily to young professionals and recent higher-education and vocational training graduates who cannot secure gainful employment in their chosen careers. These constitute the bulk of NEETs – for the most part young people under 30 not in education, employment or training – a vulnerable population, statistics for which do not show up in the LFS.  The addition of a “NEET” indicator would help policymakers better understand the extent of the multifaceted vulnerability of NEETs in terms of their labour market participation and risks of social exclusion, poor physical and mental health, the development and availability of training (particularly distance learning training that mitigates against geographic limitations) and other issues that policy, initiatives, funding and programming might effectively address.

The lingering effects of the 2008 financial crisis, coupled with imposed austerity measures, have characterised the Southern flank of the EU as being in an emergency situation. ​The European Commission called unemployed youth a ‘lost generation’ — the possibility of entering into long-term unemployment with no future or prospects for a permanent occupation steadily increasing. Being unemployed and underemployed means a whole lot more than simply losing  a steady pay check and one’s professional life. Full participation in adulthood for these youth, for example, is stalled for numerous reasons, from a limited supply of jobs to education systems that fail to provide adequate levels of skills or the right kind of skills demanded by the 21st Century workforce. The medical profession expresses concern over the health of unemployed and under-employed youth being at risk; the stress of losing a job or prolonged unemployment  is right up there on the scale of traumatic life events such as the death of a loved one, divorce and incarceration. Long-term unemployed have greater risks for developing depression, insomnia, anxiety, feelings of helplessness, low self-esteem, and even suicide.  A study at the University of Helsinki, “Does Unemployment Cause Mortality“, reports on the negative effects on health and increased risk of premature death on those becoming jobless.

While the Baltic states and many Eastern European countries have lowered their youth unemployment rates significantly and are no longer in crisis, there persists the underemployment phenomenon that leads to the infamous “brain drain” – the movement of workers from lower to higher wage regions.  Most of these highly-skilled workers and educated professionals who leave their home countries for jobs abroad do not have fixed ideas about the duration of their migration in terms of a sense of permanence. Contributing to the growing crisis, several countries are facing the consequences of a shrinking working-age population, exacerbated by high emigration. Latvia, for example, has not only seen its population decline by 25% in a space of 25 years, its emigration is cited at 40,000 people a year, many of them young graduates. This is substantial for a country with less than 2 million inhabitants.

Emigration from Latvia has been higher than in any OECD country over the past decade. Approximately 12% of Latvian-born people now live abroad and many of them are unlikely to come back.

Economists estimate that about 30,000 people still leave Bulgaria each year, mostly students pursuing higher degrees abroad and graduates in computer science, engineering and medicine. Finding a decent job is one of the main factors preventing those who have left their home country for better jobs abroad from returning. Many countries, including Estonia, Romania and Poland, organize job fairs in countries where  large numbers of their emigrants live and work.

The tide may be turning, however, with more people returning to their country of origin after extended periods abroad. Developments such as the IT revolution and globalisation have changed the context of the European labour market. Many see career opportunities in emerging markets at home – opportunities such as telecommuting or following a path toward successful entrepreneurship and enhanced employability are becoming viable options.  There are burgeoning entrepreneurship ecosystems flourishing in several areas reeling from the unemployment and underemployment crisis that have been transformed into startup nations and are emerging as important innovation hubs. The Baltic States lead the way in attracting entrepreneurs: Estonia has  simple bureaucracy and a taxation system that is one of the most liberal in the world. The Latvian public sector supports small business development through the Investment and Development Agency and is growing its local entrepreneurship ecosystem in leaps and bounds. Lithuania is one of the most innovative and tech-savvy countries in Europe and is among the top five entrepreneurial hubs with a burgeoning startup community in which over $100 million has been invested in recent years. Finland continues its long-time success  in supporting nurturing environments for young entrepreneurs, hosting startup conferences and offering co-working hubs and spaces in addition to conducting important research on the Finnish entrepreneurial scenes.

Elsewhere, Romania has at least two governmental programs to support small business. Spain has public-private partnerships throughout the country that help nurture an entrepreneurship culture, targeted especially toward young people. Bulgaria has one of the lowest corporate taxes and is home to two startup accelerators. Slovenija, Slovakia and Hungary have made great strides toward supporting important startup hubs in Europe. One in every 23 people in Ireland (aged 18-64 years) is a new business owner, ranking the island nation as the  sixth-highest in Europe for new business owners.  This comeback from belonging to the group of countries worst hit by the Eurozone crisis is especially important for women –  initiatives  are helping to reduce the gender gap in entrepreneurship seen in most countries. Today, one in every 14 women in Ireland is a female entrepreneur. And last but not least, Portugal, joining Ireland, Greece and Spain as suffering most from the financial crisis, has risen to become an important center for innovation, particularly Lisbon’s  entrepreneurial scene, that is booming.


The concept of NEETs was first considered in the 1990s, but recently relates to the lingering effects of the 2008 financial crisis that hit hardest in the Southern flank of the European Union – Portugal, Spain, Italy, Greece, Cyprus and Malta. In light of the youth unemployment crisis in Europe, researchers and government officials had sought new ways of monitoring and analysing the prevalence of labour market vulnerability among
young people.  A report from Eurofound, “Exploring the Diversity of NEETs“, suggests seven subgroups into which the NEET population can be disaggregated using data routinely collected for the EU Labour Force Survey. Through analysis of the data for each of these subgroups, it offers a contemporary overview of the composition of the NEET population, both at the EU28 level and in each Member State. It is hoped this information will help policymakers more precisely target interventions intended to ease young people’s engagement with the world of work and training. The report builds on the findings of Eurofound’s 2012 report, “NEETs – Young people not in employment, education or training: Characteristics, costs and policy responses in Europe”.


Seeking partners to replicate the EYE Model under the upcoming Interreg and EEA Norway calls. Download our replication proposals on our website at, as well as the full report here

The European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions,
(Eurofound) is a tripartite European Union Agency, whose role is to provide knowledge
in the area of social and work-related policies.

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Bologna Digital Position Paper E-Learning Recommendations


The “Bologna Digital” position paper makes recommendation for the Paris Communiqué (May 2018), and the work programme that comes after it, to pay more attention to the benefits – but also to the challenges – related to the increasing digitalisation of our lives. It suggests that European Universities should set examples in digitalising education, research and innovation. Thus, attaining a ‘Bologna Digital’ by 2020 would be a cross-sectional goal that can improve higher education performance in all existing action lines. These Action Lines Recommendations include:

TEACHING AND LEARNING – make use of digitally-enhanced learning environments as an important institutional strategy in order to enhance the learning experience and success of all learners they serve. These can ensure peer learning and quality improvements between learning institutions. Governments and the EU should provide funding in support of teaching staff’s pedagogical innovations. Stakeholders are invited to explore the idea of creating a Europe-wide platform for digital higher education and enhanced cooperation (one-stop-shop).

RECOGNITION OF NON-FORMAL DIGITAL LEARNING – institutions are encouraged to develop and publish procedures (steps to take) for the assessment and recognition of digital learning achieved through different forms of online education building up on quality assurance to be done by MOOC providers. This can also facilitate the gradual integration of non-traditional learners into full programmes of study and allow for more flexible student journeys. It recommends that higher education institutions should publish a list of MOOCs and micro-credentials, they can accept as part of their degree programmes and to accordingly develop transparent digital recognition management solutions.

OPEN UP DIGITAL LEARNING TO A DIVERSE POPULATION – institutions are encouraged to consider making induction courses for their study programmes available online (e.g. through MOOCs), including adequate support mechanisms, allowing new students to be better informed and better prepared for their studies. Governments and the EU are invited to provide funding for such digital solutions to open up higher education and to help ensure study success for non-traditional learners.

INTERNATIONALIZATION AND MOBILITY – Higher education institutions are encouraged to make better use of virtual exchange opportunities as an addition to physical exchange programmes for students and staff. They are also encouraged to consider making induction courses for their study programmes available online (e.g. through MOOCs), allowing international students to be better informed and better prepared for their on-campus studies abroad.
Content retrieved from the Position Paper submitted to the Bologna Follow-Up Group, a consortium composed of Search for Common Ground, Anna Lindh Foundation, UNIMED, Sharing Perspectives Foundation, Soliya, UNICollaboration, Kiron Open Higher Education, and Migration Matters. The paper was prepared with support of the Bertelsmann Foundation in close partnership with Hochschulforum Digitalisierung (HFD), the European Association of Distance Teaching Universities (EADTU) and the Groningen Declaration Network (GDN). Available online at, resources of interest, with a synopsis on our Google+ page

entrepreneurship, Mindset

Signs of the Entrepreneurial Mindset

If you exhibit the following traits and characteristics, you might be described as an entrepreneur:

1. You take action.
One of the co-stars of the USA television series Shark Tank says people who have a concept but not necessarily a detailed strategy are more likely to have that entrepreneurial je ne sais quoi. Beautiful business plans just don’t cut it. Barbara Corcoran suggests wannabe entrepreneurs “invent as they go,” rather than spending time writing a business plan

those who study business may be prone to overanalyzing situations rather than taking action.  Barbara Corcoran, founder of a million dollar real estate empire

2. You’re scared.
Many entrepreneurs judged as ambitious are really insecure underneath.  When Corcoran evaluates potential investments, she wants some who is scared to death of failing. Those who are nervous about failing can become hyperfocused and willing to do whatever it takes to succeed. If you feel insecure, use that emotion to drive you to achieve your business goals.

3. You’re resourceful.
Being an entrepreneur is all about never having exactly the resources needed but somehow figuring out how to make everything work out. It’s not about having enough resources, but being resourceful with what you do have.

4. You obsess over cash flow.
Prior to founding Brainshark, a Waltham, Mass.-based provider of sales productivity software, Joe Gustafson bootstrapped a venture called Relational Courseware. “All I ever thought about was cash flow and liquidity,” he admits. “There were seven times in the company’s eight-year history when I was days or hours away from payroll and didn’t have enough cash to make it.” How did he respond? “In the early days, you could step up and put expenses on your personal credit card, but that can only go so far,” he says. “You need cash.”

5. You don’t ask for permission.
Stephane Bourque, founder and CEO of Canadian Incognito Software, says true entrepreneurial types are more likely to ask for forgiveness than permission, forging ahead to address the opportunities or issues they recognize. “Entrepreneurs are never satisfied with the status quo,” says Bourque, who discovered he was not destined for the corporate world when his new and better ways of doing things were interpreted as unwanted criticism by his bosses. Now, he says, “I wish my employees would get into more trouble,” because it shows they are on the lookout for opportunities to improve themselves or company operations.

6. You’re fearless.
True entrepreneurs are not afraid to leverage their houses and run up their credit card balances to amass the funds they need to create a new venture. In some ways, they are the ultimate optimists, because they believe that their investments of time and money will eventually pay off.

Where most avoid risk, entrepreneurs see potential – Robert Irvine, chef and host of the television restaurant-themed show “Impossible”

7. You welcome change.
If you are willing to listen, your clients will show you which of your products or services provide the most value. Smart entrepreneurs constantly evolve, tweaking their business concepts in response to market feedback.

If you have only one acceptable outcome in mind, your chances of making it are slim. Rosemary Camposano, president and CEO of Halo Blow Dry Bars

8. You love a challenge.
When confronted by problems, many employees try to pass the buck. Entrepreneurs, on the other hand, rise to the occasion. An entrepreneur doesn’t think anything is insurmountable – he or she looks adversity in the eye and keeps going.

Challenges motivate entrepreneurs to work harder. Jeff Platt, CEO of the Sky Zone Indoor Trampoline Park 

9. You consider yourself an outsider.
Entrepreneurs aren’t always accepted – they may be seen as opinionated, quirky and demanding—but that is not necessarily a bad thing. They are often rejected for being different in some way, and that just makes them work harder.

10. You recover quickly.
It’s a popular notion that successful entrepreneurs fail fast and fail often. The trick is in the speed of recovery: If you fail, resist the urge to mope or feel sorry for yourself. Don’t wallow; move on to the next big thing immediately.

11. You listen.
It’s important to surround yourself with people smarter than you and to listen to ideas that aren’t yours. Success takes communication, collaboration and, sometimes, failure.

12. You focus on what matters (when you figure out what matters).
Entrepreneurs fall down and pick themselves up until they get it right. ,Focus on the single biggest challenge every marketplace has: building liquidity. Without liquidity, there is no marketplace.
Adapted from Entrepreneur article,  12 Signs You Have an Entrepreneurial Mindset



What is needed for startup hubs to thrive

AOL co-founder and The Third Wave author Steve Case @SteveCase ‏is betting USDLS $150 million on startups outside the traditional ecosystems in locations that have been the USA’s startup centers for decades, and have taken an increasing share of investments in the last decade. He partnered with venture capitalist and author JD Vance @JDVance1 to launch the Rise of the Rest Seed Fund @RiseOfRest , that backs startups outside the more notable ecosystem hubs in California, New York and Massachusetts, as the beginning of a new area in American entrepreneurship. He suggests that for an entrepreneurial ecosystem to thrive, many things need to happen, and offers suggestions to cities wanting to foster a thriving entrepreneurial environment.

The pair went on a bus tour of places in the U.S. that didn’t possess the entrepreneurial culture of California.

In Silicon Valley, you can’t turn a corner without bumping into someone who can refer an employee, connect you with a potential investor, or recommend a possible partner.

The idea was to start ongoing relationships in these communities and put a media spotlight on their business scenes. While it was a chance to find and profit from the next billion-dollar companies where no one else was looking,  it was also a chance to stimulate the economies of communities that need it the most. Case suggests cities (and regions) need to find ways to create network density through things like incubators, accelerators, and co-working spaces. There are many such environments in Europe, especially entrepreneurial-minded cities like Barcelona, Lisbon and Budapest as well as innovative countries like Ireland and The Netherlands, the Nordic latitudes of Finland, Sweden and Norway, and the Baltic States of Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia. Co-working spaces are sprouting up across the continent, and public policy is taking hold to nurture innovation and creativity.

Universities can play a critical role in connecting the entrepreneurial community and becoming a source of talent recruitment and retention. University-business exchanges help narrow the skills gap to make learning relevant to real-world problems that require innovative solutions. R&D enterprises are leading the charge to address the need for new approaches and practices in management, education and academic research.

In touring the U.S. in search of entrepreneurship ecosystems outside the traditional areas of California, New York and Massachusetts, Case and his colleagues found that there are at least seven entities that help to fuel the rise of startups: local government, universities, investors, startup support organizations, corporations, local media and entrepreneurs.

The 7 Spokes of an entrepreneurial ecosystem use a variety of levers to help connect convene and support startups. These efforts, in turn, inspire an environment that is conducive to innovation and entrepreneurship.  Source:  Business Insider

These groups can provide much needed credibility to young firms by becoming customers or collaborators. Local governments also have an enormous role to play by creating the policies and programs that incentivize and accelerate all of the above.

In a 2015 report on jobs, the US-based private foundation focusing on entrepreneurship, Kauffman Foundation, found that new businesses account for nearly all net new job creation and almost 20 percent of gross job creation. Their report,  The Importance of Young Firms for Economic Growth, cited companies less than one year old have created an average of 1.5 million jobs per year over the past three decades. The report also noted that startups are efficient drivers of economic progress, where “innovative and successful firms grow rapidly and become a wellspring of job and economic growth, or quickly fail and exit the market, allowing capital to be put to more productive uses.”

Cities across the United States are ushering in a new era of entrepreneurship by encouraging startups and the jobs that come with them. There is a real change taking place — with a recognition that there are strong business opportunities all across the country and an acknowledgement that investors can make a real impact by pursuing them. Here are some valuable lessons for Europe to learn from. Where are the opportunities for developing vibrant ecosystems lurking beneath the surface of cities and towns across Europe and neighboring regions?  Tell us your story……..


Steve Case and JD Vance launched the Rise of the Rest Seed Fund to back more startups outside the more notable ecosystem hubs in the United States.

Read the original article on Revolution,

EYE – The E-Incubator for Young Entrepreneurs provides training to acquire the skills, mindset and competences for successful entrepreneurship and/or enhanced employability through distance learning. Visit us online at