Guidelines for the Successful Integration of 25-29-year-old NEETs into the Green Labour Market

15 February 2024/Evaluation

NEETs in Europe

The concept of NEETs, an acronym for “not in employment, education or training”, refers to the situation of many young people, aged between 15 and 29, in Europe, who struggle to find an employment in the labour market, are unemployed, or inactive[1]. In 2020, 18.6% of people in Europe aged 25-29 were not in employment, nor in education or training (NEETs)[2]. Thus, the INTERCEPT project aimed to tackle this issue by analysing the target group, developing an innovative scheme for the integration of NEETs into the green labour market, evaluating the results of the pilot scheme and providing guidelines for the successful integration of 25-29-year-old NEETs. You can learn more about the context and VA’s role in the project in our previous Spotlight here.

Purpose of the guidelines

One of the project aims was to document the project in a way, so other countries could implement INTERPECT in their countries as well. Thus, the guidelines aim to provide stakeholders with the lessons learned from the INTERCEPT project and the steps that should be taken into consideration when adapting the pilot to the local context.

Results of the evaluation

The overall project evaluation has shown that INTERPECT has been an important tool for employing NEETs, creating the link between green employers and potential employees. The main findings are as follows:

  • Relevance – The pilot was relevant to NEETs, employers, PES and in a local context. It still remains relevant after the end of the pilot.
  • Effectiveness – The evaluation shows that the intervention improved employment opportunities for 25-29-year-old NEETs. Regarding skills related to the green economy, participants agreed that the interventions contributed significantly to the improvement of their skills. INTERCEPT laid the foundation for further collaboration between PES and green employers.
  • Efficiency – The cost-benefit analysis showed that in an average wage scenario, the benefits of the pilot would surpass its costs in from 95 days to 1.4 years depending on the country and the calculation model. There are no alternative interventions targeting 25-29-year-old NEETs and employing them in green jobs. The resources in all three countries were used as planned and no significant changes were needed. There was some delay in implementation, but it did not have a significant impact on the outcomes of the pilots.
  • Impact – We observed a positive impact on participants’ absence from the unemployment register. The share of participants on the unemployment register was approximately 10-12 p.p. lower than that of the control group.
  • Sustainability, transferability, scalability – The evaluation showed that the intervention built the capacity of project implementers in that they were trained about green jobs and had to address non-standard situations. Additionally, partnerships between Public Employment Services and green companies were built which will help to employ NEETs in green jobs in the future. Transferability of the project is challenging – it is possible if the pilot is flexible and adjusted to a local context.
  • Innovativeness – The most innovative aspect for all three countries was the strategy to involve young people in the green economy. In addition, allowances were paid to participants (but not to the companies) and the project’s conditions are very flexible. However, fundamentally, such a model where an unemployed individual undergoes brief training and carries out an internship is standard and lacks innovation.

Lessons learned

The main message from the evaluation is that one standard type of approach does not fit all countries, thus the implementers should be flexible and adapt to the local needs. For instance, (1) females are over-represented in Malta, as opposed to the NEETs’ gender balance in Lithuania; (2) the educational structure of NEETs differs between regions. The green economy is also different between the countries, for example, in Tuscany, the green economy was more often associated with small farms, while in Malta, waste management and the circular economy have become relatively more important.

Second, it is possible to implement one programme sharing the same elements but also respecting country differences. Being aware of the country-specific contexts, a flexible programme design and implementation in practice was tested. Thus, flexibility in the programme design and implementation is possible and preferred. This enables custom-designed tailoring of the programme to the specific needs of the country/region, as well as addressing these needs to achieve a higher impact.

Third, being green motivates employees as well as employers. The idea of contributing to a common purpose, such as “saving the planet“ or “fighting climate change“, motivated and activated the participants. On the employers’ side, when asked to participate in the project, employers were often surprised that they were considered to be a part of the green economy.

Furthermore, we observed a positive impact on the participants’ absence from the unemployment register (approx. 10-12 p.p.). Our estimated impact is comparable to impact evaluation evidence from other countries (or relevant meta-analyses).

Finally, listening to stakeholders and having ongoing evaluations pays off. A list of stakeholders was involved in designing and implementing the pilot programme. The participation of NEETs was organised in waves. Each wave presented a new observation to be potentially evaluated. The time between the waves opened up the possibility for adjustments to improve the implementation of the pilot.

Main steps to implement INTERCEPT in other countries

Step 1. An analysis of the local context, needs and challenges of the target age group NEETs, as well as the needs of green companies

The evidence-based decision-making is an important aspect of success. During the initial phases of the INTERCEPT project the research on NEETs’ characteristics, needs and challenges was carried out. Additional research was done on stakeholders’ needs regarding green jobs. It is highly recommended to gain a firm understanding of the country context if transferring the INTERCEPT project to another country. Several questions should be answered:

  • Relevance to the country – what are the country’s needs regarding NEETs and green jobs?
  • Hearing employers – challenges in the green economy and employers’ needs
  • ALMP in the country – what programmes are already present?
  • Legal setting – what legal aspects should be taken into account?
  • Stakeholders – who are the most important actors in the field?

Step 2. Identifying objectives and adapting the intervention to the local context

When the research on the local context is finalised, all relevant actors are known, and the needs/barriers of the target group are clear – the intervention can then be adapted to the local context. The implementer should think of several important aspects:

  • Objectives – what the intervention aims to achieve
  • Partners – which partners should be included to make the intervention run more smoothly
  • Model – what kind of support will be provided to the NEET
  • Green jobs/skills – how the green aspect of the pilot will be incorporated
  • Geographical distribution and location of the intervention
  • Outreach strategy – how to reach participants and employers
  • Remuneration and associated costs
  • Key Performance Indicators

Step 3. Implementing the pilot

Once the pilot is tailored to the local context, the implementation might start. To successfully implement the project several aspects should be taken into account:

  • Staff preparation
  • Roles within the core team
  • Management of the intervention
  • Monitoring of Key Performance Indicators

Step 4. Evaluation of intervention

It is important to prepare for the evaluation of the intervention. Thus, evaluation guidelines and sustainability strategies should be in place.

Our recommendations regarding each of the aforementioned aspects and more detailed guidance can be found here:

You may also read more about the project’s conclusion of the Intercept project in our Spotlight here.

[1] Mascherini, Massimiliano. “Origins and future of the concept of NEETs in the European policy agenda.” Youth Labor in Transition. Oxford University Press, 2019. 503-529.

[2]Eurostat. Retrieved from;

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