Start-up support schemes need to be evaluated on their outcomes for young people

** Listen to Eurofound Research Officer Sara Riso introduce the Start-up support for young people publication here.**

The new Eurofound report ‘Start-up support for young people: From implementation to evaluation’ maps the variety of publicly supported interventions on youth entrepreneurship and reviews a range of policy evaluations assessing their impact and effectiveness.

What becomes apparent from the report is that there is no shortage of start-up support measures for young people in the EU. Many of these measures, including general activation measures for the unemployed, are currently part of the Youth Guarantee. The type of start-up support ranges from access to finance to so-called ‘soft’ support, which can include advice, coaching and skill development.

Although the Youth Guarantee has helped to place the existing measures under an overall youth employment strategy, more effort should be made to achieve a coordinated approach and greater complementarity across different types of interventions. The bulk of the measures identified are stand-alone and small-scale, with limited financial resources. The European Social Fund and the Youth Guarantee are important to ensure that start-up measures for young people are linked more effectively with a national youth employment framework of integrated measures rather than left in a special category of their own.

Despite the ever increasing policy interest in youth entrepreneurship, there seems to be very little appetite for comprehensive evaluations. There is often an over-reliance on lighter forms of evaluations based on simple take-up data or self-reported data of participants’ opinions and views. These disproportionately report more positive results than robust impact evaluations. The very few in-depth evaluations of start-up support measures for young people that have taken place so far point to limited or no impact.

There is a pressing need to design more evidence-based youth entrepreneurship policies. Sound and comprehensive impact evaluations can feed back into start-up programmes and make them more effective. This means that policy evaluation is not the end of the line, but rather an integrated and important part of youth emtrepreneurship policy delivery.

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