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Creating New Perspectives for NEET Youth

Photo: C. Fischer

How can we reach young people who end up on the wrong track and drop out of school or their apprenticeship program? A Heidelberg-based project called “LÄUFT?!” uses a personal, individual support program to help young people in NEET (not in employment, education, or training) to find new perspectives on their personal and professional development.

The young people who participate have very different kinds of issues – some have a criminal past, others are homeless. Often, multiple factors coalesce: difficult family situations, a problematic school record with periods of skipped school, or trouble with the police. To break this negative cycle, young people need close, personalized attention and guidance.

Since 2008, the organization WERKstattSCHULE has been based in a historical former railway depot near the Heidelberg train station. The space is currently being renovated for the organization’s work. Together with other groups, they started the LÄUFT?! project in March 2016 as a local implementation of a nation-wide pilot project called “Respect,” organized by the German Federal Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs. Since then, young people can come here to find a place of creativity and warmth, test a variety of practical skills, or get insights into trade skills or artistic work. Engaged staff members provide counselling and help them to explore personal and professional questions, strengthen their personal development, and support them in the transition from school to work life. The young people learn to structure their day and, step by step, to assume responsibility for their lives. Together with the counsellors, they develop concrete plans for school graduation, internships, or a training program.