This scheme aims to improve the employability of participants with training, strengthening self-esteem, building networks and developing entrepreneurship skills. It also aims to strengthen linkages among business development support providers.
The scheme was launched to help support the unemployed in returning to work and to combat the social stigma of being unemployed by helping the long-term unemployed remain active. It was modelled after an approach used during the mid-to-late 1980s to help youth enter the labour market.
The first ‘launch pads’ started in 2013 in Aguilar de Campoo (Palencia) and in four municipalities of Cantabria (Torrelavega, Castro Urdiales, Astillero and Santander). The network of ‘launch pads’ aims to help the long-term unemployed return to work by starting a business or finding paid employment. Each ‘launch pad’ is a structured project that provides group coaching and training for three days per week and individual coaching and business counselling for the remaining two days. This is complemented by training, workshops, business visits and networking events.
Each ‘launch pad’ is semi-autonomous and is led by a coach. Each has the ability to tailor the support to the needs of participants in their region and receives support from the central office. Coaches are the only paid employees, other support providers are volunteers. Coaches are responsible for developing and implementing the scheme, and developing and managing relationships with other support providers. Coaches receive training from LEES.
LEES also organises events for all of the ‘launch pads’, including networking events and conferences.
The model relies on a strong public-private partnership between many actors. Key collaborators include Fundación Telefónica, Barclays Foundation, Obra Social la Caixa, and local governments where the launch pads are located. The project also receives support from the European Social Fund.
During the pilot phase (April 2013-December 2013), 114 participants were active in five ‘launch pads.’ Approximately 25% of participants started a business and 63% found employment. The remaining 22% were either still looking for jobs or enrolled in further education to better their job-seeking prospects. The programme expanded greatly following the pilot phase. Between 2013 and 2018, more than 7 000 people have participated the programme, and half have either created a job for themselves or resumed their studies.
This case study was adapted from material published in: OECD/EU (2016), Inclusive Business Creation: Good Practice Compendium, OECD Publishing, Paris. http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264251496-en