The European Social Fund and the Stockholm City administration finance the Filur project, which has been running since 2010. The target group of the project is young persons facing difficulties entering the labour market. Participants are enrolled in Filur through the so-called “Jobbtorg” (job centres) or via the special responsibility of the labour market administrations concerning young people. Persons can also be recruited from local employment centres or from the social insurance office. Young people enrolled from Jobbtorg are, however, the dominant group. An interviewed job coach at the Filur project estimated that 90 per cent of the participants were enrolled from Jobbtorg (interview 1). As Filur has cut ties with the Jobbtorg organisation, it is appropriate to give a short description of this organisation in order to clarify the context within which Filur is working.
Jobbtorg is an initiative introduced by the right wing majority in the city of Stockholm in 2006. The decision to implement Jobbtorg was taken in 2007 along with a modified set of guidelines for the administration of social welfare benefits (utl. 2007: 117 and utl. 2007: 116). Jobbtorg was initially referred to as a “special project designed to help people from Stockholm to move from social welfare benefits to work” (utl. 2007: 117), which was in line with the dominating activation policy within the Swedish labour market policy (Johansson 2009; Thorén 2008). This project had a clear two-headed goal: to help people to help themselves in finding employment, and to reduce costs for the city district administration by reducing the number of people dependent on social welfare benefits (utl. 2007: 117). The term “welfare dependency” with the obvious connotation (in Swedish) of “welfare addiction” (bidragsberoende) was used frequently in the debate to describe the problem that Jobbtorg was intended to address (utl. 2007: 117). The idea of Jobbtorg was to standardise the municipal efforts and resources available to assist unemployed people dependent on social welfare benefits, which meant centralising the organisation within the city of Stockholm. Prior to Jobbtorg, there had been a number of different projects and organisations cooperating with city district administrations to support people on social welfare benefits to find employment. Initiatives for different projects are also taken at Jobbtorg as part of their method of working. The objective of these projects is to develop regular activities at Jobbtorg as these projects are designed to try out new methods and ways of working (interview 2). The successful methods are supposed to be singled out and then adopted as regular Jobbtorg activities. Filur is an example of such a project (interview 3).
With the help of personal job coaches, a staff member interviewed stated that Jobbtorg is supposed to establish an individual planning document, a “work-plan”, for each “candidate” to sign (the unemployed person is called an “aspirant” or candidate at Jobbtorg). This work-plan can include short work-related courses, learning Swedish, internship, as well as requirements of daily attendance and job-searching activities at the Jobbtorg offices. It can also include participation in one of the projects currently running, for example, at Filur. Because of the modified set of guidelines for the administration of social welfare benefits, there is a strong incentive for people who receive social welfare benefits to cooperate with the job coaches and follow their individual work-plan at Jobbtorg. Daily attendance is required as a norm, and attendance and even late arrival is reported directly to the administrators of the social welfare benefits at the city district administration (interview 2). This means, for instance, that too many “late arrivals” can cause a person’s right to social welfare benefits to be questioned. Unexplained non-attendance usually deprives a person of that right.
Filur was initiated on political request by a group of professionals specialising in youth unemployment at Jobbtorg. This group was commissioned to investigate the possibility for a new project for young unemployed people who seemed to experience special difficulty in getting a foothold in the labour market (interview 3). The staff group went on a tour of inspiration and came back with elements from different fields and organisations. Today, the Filur project is built on four elements. The first element is the so-called “7-twenty” method (7-tjugo-metoden), which is a concept adopted from an employee-owned cooperative in the Swedish city of Borlänge, called “Arbetslinjen Klippan” (Arbetslinjen Klippan 24 January 2013). The 7-twenty method is described as a pedagogic and self-strengthening method. The second element is referred to as “Try-out-a-job”, which is not supposed to be an internship, where the young person is forced to take whatever job is offered. Instead, it should be an opportunity for the young person to make a decision about a line of work that appeals to them, and then try it for a 4-week period (interview 3). The job coaches at Filur try their very best to match the young person to the labour market according to their wishes. The interviewed head of the project says that the 7-twenty method works on mobilising a young person’s motivation for 8 weeks and then the “Try-out-a-job” scheme is supposed to follow as a logical consequence (interview 3). During the 8 weeks that the participants follow the 7-twenty method, the job coaches also work individually with each participant to try to assess and map the needs of support for each participant. This is the third element. At the beginning of the project, the mapping method used was ADAD (short for Adolescent Drug Abuse Diagnosis), which is a standardised questionnaire used within the social administration office in their work with young drug abusers. The project leader states that the original idea was to get results that could be comparable in the municipality. However, ADAD is no longer the method used for mapping the participants at Filur. Instead, the job coaches have a continuous and individual approach, meeting each participant for individual talks every week (interview 3). The fourth element that constitutes the Filur project is the mentor programme. Here the original idea was inspired from Mentor Sverige and Skandia Idéer för livet (ideas for life). The structure of this mentor programme, as well as its intensity and length, were adopted. “Our thought was that after the 8 plus 4 weeks of the Filur project, each participant should be able to have a mentor, someone who was already working professionally within the field of work that the young person had decided to aim for, and that that mentor should be available for the young person at least once a month for 2 hours” (interview 3). However, the mentor programme is the part of the Filur project that has not been working so well. The project leader explains that there has been a problem with timing and matching, as well as with recruiting mentors and maintaining the interest of the young person so long after the end of the project with so much changing in a young person’s life (interview 3).
58.2. Concepts and ways of addressing users
In the project application to the ESF, the following is written about the target group of the
At Jobbtorg and within the community there is a growing group of young people, aged 16-24, who fail to establish themselves in the labour market or who fail to continue their studies despite the support and interventions that are available to them. This group represents the project’s target group. They get stuck in Jobbtorg or disappear for short periods of time only to then reappear (…) Some young find it difficult to understand and to live up to the demands placed on them in meetings with various authorities. Many risk getting stuck in the support systems, which means that they are at risk of permanent welfare dependency.
Our target group often lack fundamental social and practical skills required to be deemed employable by employers. It is a sprawling group of diffuse problems. Some young people are immature, others experience mental or emotional problems, they are on sick leave; they return and become sick again. It is likely that some young people carry undiagnosed disabilities. Common to the group is low self-esteem and lack of confidence in their own potential. Many young people lack education; others have completed high school but have missing grades in one or more subjects
Svenska ESF Rådet, 7 February 2013 (authors’ translation)
The target group has broadened since the start of the project, and today most young unemployed people that wish to participate can do so (interview 3). The participants that we interviewed came from Jobbtorg and had been offered a place in the Filur project after a few weeks and up until a couple of months after enrolling with Jobbtorg (interviews 4 and 5). The project leader points out that the sooner a young person joins the project the better, and she says that sometimes the regulations of the national employment office can be ineffective as it only allows a young person to enter the Filur project after 3 months of unemployment when the young person is listed in the so-called “youth guarantee” (ungdomsgarantin) (interview 3).
From our interviews, it has been suggested that Jobbtorg can have a deterrent effect on the participants, and it remains unclear how much the fear of having to return to Jobbtorg is a motivating factor to continue Filur. Both interviewees said that they found Jobbtorg ineffective, unnecessary and unhelpful. They agreed that sitting at Jobbtorg was like being pulled downwards to a place where people were “just sad and only doing things because they had to”. Both of the interviewed participants described incomprehensible rules at Jobbtorg, and they both said that the offer to start at the Filur project seemed like a good option. They stated that the individual mapping showed them their capabilities and increased their self-confidence and pride in themselves (interviews 4 and 5). The project leader confirmed that the project provides better chances compared with Jobbtorg and is an opportunity for the young participants to get the time to examine their own motivations and start to build self-confidence around who they are, what they want and are able to do (interview 3).
58.3 Internal organisation and modes of working
The Filur project is an ESF-funded project run by the Stockholm municipality, administered by their organisation, Jobbtorg, which is organised within the labour market administration. The project is controlled by a board. The chairperson of the board is also the coordinator of the youth activities at Jobbtorg. The rest of the board consists of representatives from the employment office, social insurance office and the employment department, the city district administration, and Jobbtorg. Initially, there was also one representative from Stockholm City Mission, but not any longer. The project leader says that a decision was made to have only civil servants on the board, based on arguments of efficiency (interview 3).
The venue of the Filur project, with its address in central Stockholm, has an obvious advantage. The project leader works here alongside three job coaches and one career and education counsellor. In addition, they have one administrator and one economist working part-time in the project. They also have one informant employed through a special youth employment programme run by the municipality. The idea of that the programme enables young people to gain employment in the municipal organisation, or in one of its many companies, for a limited period of time during which Jobbtorg finances the young person’s salary (interview 3). The advantage of the venue of Filur is that it is shared with the youth employment programme, which means that the matchers working in the youth employment programme, along with their contacts in different administrations and companies, can meet directly with the young participants in the Filur project and help them to find interesting jobs in the municipality.
58.4 Impact on the governance of local welfare systems
The impact that the Filur project will have remains to be seen. At the time of the case study, it was often referred to politically as successful. In a survey conducted in January 2013, 78.5 per cent of the young people that had participated in the project and finished during 2010, 2011 and the first 6 months of 2012, had become self-supporting (Stockholms stad 2013). According to the project leader, parts of the Filur project will be implemented in the regular activity at Jobbtorg after the project has ended (interview 3). The project’s termination date has recently been prolonged until June 2013. However, one can probably say that more activities based on an individual approach working with pedagogical self-strengthening methods will be continuously directed towards the young and unemployed in the near future.