Million grant will help young people gain a foothold into the labour market

Det Boligsociale Fællessekretariat has received a grant of 2.1 million DKK from VELUX FONDEN for the project Build Up. The project will run for three years and create jobs and apprenticeships for young people in social housing. This will happen in connection to the numerous construction projects that are taking place within the public sector in Aarhus.

The grant from VELUX FONDEN can be of great importance for young people in social housing.

Up to 6,300 young Danish people or 10 percent of a youth year group will never work. There is a special need for action particularly in some public housing areas. According to SFI (The Danish National Centre for Social Research) the unemployment among the 20-29 year olds is twice as high when comparing the young unemployed in vulnerable neighborhoods to the national average.

Build Up is trying to integrate young people in the public housing areas into the labor market. The project covers a locally based employment project primarily targeted at people aged 15 - 30 years in Aarhus' social housing areas. The project has two main objectives. Firstly, to create jobs, company-based traineeships and apprenticeships for the young people associated with the numerous renovation and construction projects taking place within the public sector in recent years.

Secondly, to ensure social partnership in future construction and renovation projects, so that builders and contractors work together to recruit vulnerable young people from the local area. The project run by Det Boligsociale Fællessekretariat stems from a successful pilot project, which among other things has been part of the renovation of the residential area Rosenhøj in Aarhus since February 2014.

According to project leader Anette Nitschke, Build Up, it is a new experience for contractors to work with social values,

"It is my experience that we are undergoing a cultural change. The contractors, who have been engaged in Rosenhøj, know that apprenticeships and traineeships for the locals will be a priority in general renovations and new buildings in future. It may take some time, but if we continue, then social values in public construction will become the norm rather than the exception."

The pilot project shows great unfulfilled potential

The experience of the pilot project in Rosenhøj shows that it is possible to change the course of young people's lives and connect them with the network; they often lack to get a job. Through the pilot project, twelve residents from the area work on ordinary terms in construction, and five young people found an apprenticeship and is now in the process of training. From the beginning of the project a close and sustained contact with the construction companies was required to get them to see the value in taking social responsibility for the young people. However today the construction companies see a great potential in the cooperation. In addition to creating job and training openings for the area's young people, the project also had the economic side effect that there has not been a single case of theft at the construction site in Rosenhøj. This is highly unusual for construction projects in general, and according to one of the main contractor, Enemærke & Petersen it is because it has had a preventive effect to employ local youths in construction.

Extends the project to several residential areas

With the grant from VELUX FONDEN the project will be expanded and further developed. This will help at least 80 young people from public housing areas throughout Aarhus in finding a foothold in the education system and into the labor market over the next three years. In addition, the project will provide more experience with how the combination of physical changes and social initiatives create positive change in the areas. Six housing associations will implement Build Up in the renovation of their residential areas.

Director of the VELUX FONDEN, Ane Hendriksen says, “VELUX FONDEN wish that the project Build Up will help create job opportunities, company-based traineeships and apprenticeships for young people living in social housing - initially in Aarhus. It is our hope that the experiences from Aarhus will inspire other cities when they need to launch renovation and construction projects in social housing areas."

The new project is a collaboration with the Municipality of Aarhus, which has decided to support the project with an additional 1 million DKK over the next three years as an extension of the grant from VELUX FONDEN.