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The Young in Gävleborg project equips young people who are not employed or studying to enter the labour market

The project Young in Gävleborg


The ESF project Young in Gävleborg is a regional effort to identify and strengthen young women and men aged 15-24 who are neither employed nor studying. The project helps give young people the chance to gain a foothold in the labour market. Region Gävleborg runs the project and coordinates the county’s municipalities into 10 smaller projects, enabling the exchange of knowledge and experiences between the municipalities over the course of the project.


The project is part of the European Union’s Youth Employment Initiative. The European Council agreed on 8 February 2013 to establish an employment initiative for young people, with earmarked funds from a specific budget item in the EU budget for all regions with a youth unemployment rate of 25%, or more (based on statistics for 2012). Within the Swedish Social Fund programme, this funding is targeted to three regions which, at the time of measurement, had a youth unemployment rate of 25%, or more: Southern Sweden, Central Norrland and Northern Central Sweden.


Young in Gävleborg works with outreach, assessment, coaching, job counselling, education, motivational activities, internships and matching. The participants are provided support to begin training, an internship, a job or self-employment, and are given opportunities for educational and career choices that break traditional patterns.

Young people not employed or studying

The target group for these efforts consists of young people aged 15-24 who do not work or study. The idea is for 1,000 young people to take part in the project.


“Since the funding we receive through the European Youth Employment Initiative is intended for direct interventions for these youths, our job is to strengthen existing labour market policies and best practices rather than develop new solutions,” says Carolin Sundberg at Region Gävleborg.


The project places special emphasis on getting young people without a completed secondary-school certificate to resume their studies. The target group – young people not employed or studying – is heterogeneous and so there is no one cure-all method that works for everyone. Therefore, Young in Gävleborg takes its starting point in each individual’s needs and develops an individual plan in which participants can offer input and shape their own path to employment. Participants’ past experiences and circumstances with a view to gender, health, social background and ethnicity should determine how the activities are designed. The project aims to put an end to stereotypical thinking during the process.

A salutogenic approach

The project applies a wellness approach known as “salutogenic”. Coined by the American-Israeli Professor Aaron Antonovsky, the term means “curative”, and it places emphasis on factors that support human health and well-being rather than on risk factors. Antonovsky linked this to the concept of sense of coherence (SOC), which rests on the three building blocks meaningfulness, comprehensibility and manageability, as well as to research that shows a clear relationship between a strong sense of coherence, a feeling of well-being and good health. 


In line with this idea, Young in Gävleborg does intervention work that strengthens each individual through better routines, support for any disabilities, better knowledge of themselves and society, knowledge of the labour market and its conditions, and the motivation and tools needed to take the next step in preparation for a job or studies.


”In the project in Söderhamn, participants use a common building as a meetup point where they can practice their social skills, participate in activities and practice keeping to a schedule with regular routines. In the Hudiksvall project, a photo project was done by and for the participants, who got to describe their situations using a camera. This then turned into a photo exhibition with accompanying descriptions from the participants. This type of special-interest project has proven successful since it’s given participants a boost in the right direction. Stemming from something the participants themselves find interesting, they’ve been able to prove to themselves that they can learn, develop and complete a task. The photo project resulted in 8 of the 9 participants’ moving on to other initiatives and training programmes,” says project manager Ingrid Lysell Smålänning.


Under Sweden’s Education Act, municipalities have an obligation to provide activities for young people registered in a municipality who have completed their compulsory education but who are younger than 20 and have not completed an upper-secondary education. This obligation means that the municipality must stay informed throughout the year about how its youth are employed and offer appropriate individual measures. Young in Gävleborg therefore provides outreach activities in order to recruit young people to the project. The municipalities might do things differently, but the outreach can include everything from project staff making phone calls, sending letters or e-mails, to knocking on the doors where the people live. Project staff also scout out places where young people go, such as youth centres and the like.


So far, the results suggest that the project has a successful approach. In October 2016, Young in Gävleborg had nearly 400 participants enrolled in the project. According to figures from August 2016, 182 people had left the project. Of these, 55% had moved on to some form of employment or studies. At the start of the project, the target was 30%.

Bild i högerkolumnPhotoshow in the project.

Young in Gävleborg

Programme area:

3.1 Youth employment initiative


Northern Central Sweden

Project owner:

Region Gävleborg