7: Antwerp, Belgium – Youth Competence Centres (YCC)
In 2004, Antwerp set up three Youth Competence Centres that focused on diminishing the negative consequences of dropping out of school. The Centres were open to all young people but focused on 16 to 25 year olds in a vulnerable socio-cultural or socio-economic situation.69
Outreach was an important part of the YCC success. The Centres trained counsellors and sent them out into local communities to meet young people not in employment, education or training. Counsellors aimed to build relationships with these young people and provided them with advice on applying for a job or course and helped them identify which courses matched their interests. These young people were also encouraged to visit the Centre itself for further advice.
Data from 2010 shows that of the 129 young people that received intensive coaching , 41 per cent found a job, 16 per cent started a training course and 26 per cent returned to education. In total, 83 per cent achieved either an employment or training outcome. However, of those who moved into employment, 70 per cent were on temporary work contracts.
The Flemish Employment Service noted the importance of hiring counsellors who themselves already had excellent local knowledge of disengaged youth hotspots and existing contacts with young people in order to be able to gain the trust and respect of the target group. Counsellors also need a thorough understanding of existing provision for young people, including employment programmes and the education system. These factors were found to explain differences in outcomes amongst the Centres and emphasise the importance of putting resource into counsellors’ training and coaching.