Public employment services: Building social resilience in youth?
It is contested to what extent public employment services (PES) help build resilience in young unemployed people. Drawing on qualitative interviews with 19 people born in Germany and Norway between 1990 and 1995, the article examines stories about how PES, in two different activation regimes, help young people find meaningful work. The analysis and discussion are carried out within a theoretical framework that combines the capability approach with social resilience literature in a novel way. The findings show that PES are portrayed as being more present in young Germans' lives. The German informants seem to feel undue pressure from PES and they describe differences between personal aims and the “placement priority” of PES. Sanctions imposed by PES were also a much more predominant topic among the German informants. The Norwegian data were dominated by stories about young people in activation programmes who had been demotivated by being trapped in a cycle of programme participation, which did not result in employment. Across the two countries, our data suggest that PES rarely build social resilience: PES provided young people with a means to survive, but rarely helped to build their capacity to overcome their difficult situation. In line with previous research, the stories of young Germans and Norwegians also emphasise the need for a PES that provides tailor‐made services that build on young people's motivation and ambition. The article demonstrates that combining the capability approach with social resilience theory enables a dynamic perspective on the development of people's capabilities.
Vedeler, Janikke Solstad
Bøhler, Kjetil Klette