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Danish Royal stardust for youth jobs in Esbjerg

Danish Royal stardust for youth jobs in Esbjerg

| Text: Marie Preisler, photo: Tomas Bertelsen

”Energy for Each Other” is a youth initiative in Esbjerg municipality, known across Denmark, which has won an award for getting young people into education and work. Three of those young people now work at Den Jyske Kontrolcentral, where head of operations Erik Sørensen is very content with his young co-workers.

Den Jyske Kontrolcentral is a private company located in an industrial park outside of the city of Esbjerg on the Danish west coast. The offices are staffed 24 hours by people working in a large surveillance room plastered with screens that monitor customers’ alarm systems. Three of the employees are young men in their 20s who have been part of the “Energy for Each Other”-initiative that helps young people get into work or education.

“As a company, we have benefitted greatly from being part of “Energy for Each Other”, and we are very happy about the young people we have employed as a result,” says head of operations Erik Sørensen.

Erik SørensenThe three young people – Andreas, Simon and Jasper – are a gain for the workplace in many regards, he explains.

“Our other employees enjoy being able to take social responsibility and take into consideration the young men and their vulnerability in a good way.”

It also benefits the company’s recruitment and leads to less turnover, he says.

“We get in touch with qualified young people who we would not meet through the normal recruitment system because they don’t read job postings. They stay here for a long time too.”

A royal award

”Energy for Each Other” was awarded the Crown Prince Couple's Social Stardust Award in November 2023, an award that each year goes to an innovative contributor in the field of social work. The award was presented during a show at the Esbjerg Performing Arts Centre by King Frederik and Queen Mary, who at that time were the Crown Prince Couple.

The award stated that “Energy for Each Other” is based on the needs and desires of young people and employs new methods in guiding them towards jobs and education. "An inspiring approach to one of society's major challenges," was among the reasons given for the award.

Award ceremony

”Energy for Each Other”  got the ”Crown Prince Couple's Stardust” award in November 2023. It was presented by King Frederik and Queen Mary, who at the time were the Crown Prince Couple. Photo: Agnete Schlichtkrull.

”Energy for Each Other” is run by Esbjerg’s municipal job centre. The initiative is: 

  • Holistic
  • Community-based
  • Inclusive
  • Hands-on

Since the project’s start in 2020, more than half of the 183 participating young people between 16 and 27 have entered education or the labour market. The participants are so-called “activity-ready”, i.e. young people who are not immediately ready to manage a job – many of them struggle with anxiety and other mental challenges.

For this target group, the municipality has created a different job centre which helps the young people themselves to want to start work or an education.

Making the young people capable to fend for themselves is the goal. That is why contact with local businesses plays an important role in “Energy for Each Other”. The young people can participate in internship programmes and meet companies to see how work is conducted there. 

Gamer and night worker 

One of Erik Sørensen’s young employees is gaming a lot at home at night and met Sørensen when he participated in “Energy for Each Other".

“He discovered that there are jobs like here at Den Jyske Kontrolcentral where the work happens in front of a screen and where he could work at night. He didn’t know this before,” says Erik Sørensen.

The young person was first offered a trial internship at Den Jyske Kontrolcentral and has been employed for two years now. He feels his anxiety levels have dropped.

Den Jyske Kontrolcentral and the other local companies that take part in “Energy for Each Other” have received guidance on how they can work strategically and practically to take social responsibility, like by hiring, receiving, retraining and developing this group of young people.

“It has been good for us as a company to be equipped to take social responsibility. We have formulated a CSR strategy, so we now know why and how we do what we do. I am convinced that in the long run, it will also yield an economic benefit," says the operations manager at Den Jyske Kontrolcentral.

Erik and Jesper

Mental health improvement

An evaluation of “Energy for Each Other” shows that participants experience that they:

  • Have gained a better structure of their days
  • Have become more social and less isolated
  • Have become better at identifying their strengths and limitations and are happier with themselves
  • Have more energy for a higher activity level
  • Are doing better mentally – e.g. having less anxiety, feeling less depressed and experiencing fewer mood swings

The young people's own suggestions for what makes the initiative work:

  • Feeling safe in a place with good energy alongside adults and peers who are open and curious
  • Having a consistent youth advisor for support, such as managing finances or dealing with case workers, psychiatrists, and doctors
  • Concurrent treatment for substance abuse and psychiatric follow-up alongside the intervention
  • Changes at their own pace
  • Responsibility and autonomy 



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