Feasibility study "App-based peer group counselling"

Implementation of app-based peer group counselling 

Youth unemployment as well as long-term unemployment or the unemployment of people who are difficult to integrate into the labour market and who have to overcome one or more hurdles on their way back into employment cause far-reaching problems for those concerned and for society:

Unemployed youths demonstrably suffer from an increased risk of unemployment, lower salary expectations [1] as well as health problems [2] for the rest of their working lives. Further innovative solution concepts are needed that do justice to the reality of young people's lives, , especially for youth transitioning from school to work [3]: a successful transition from school to work training is a central factor in combating youth unemployment [4].

In the case of the long-term unemployed, health restrictions, missing or outdated vocational qualifications and other hurdles reduce their chances of a successful reintegration into the labour market [5]. It is not uncommon for the long-term unemployed to become frustrated and demotivated after several unsuccessful attempts and training courses. In addition, over time they may lose confidence in their reintegration into the labour market.

Overcoming these problems and risks poses an enormous challenge to society. The question arises: Can modern information and communication technologies (ICT) make a positive contribution to this and if so, how?

The feasibility study "App-based peer group counselling" aimed to determine whether the addition of app-based peer group counselling to the portfolio of the Federal Employment Agency would benefit the target groups of young people and the unemployed with difficult conditions. A target-group-specific approach was developed in each case based on the peer group idea. Peer groups form when people with the same interests, challenges or goals unite. Members of peer groups can benefit from each other's experiences, develop a common motivation or experience support that is difficult to find otherwise. The peer groups were realised via the messenger app Threema Work, which enables participants to network with each other regardless of time and location, and maintain their anonymity.

[1] Daiji Kawaguchi und Tetsushi Murao, „Labor-Market Institutions and Long-Term Effects of Youth Unemployment,“ Journal of Money, Credit and Banking 46, S2 (2014)
[2] Anne Reneflot und Miriam Evensen, „Unemployment and psychological distress among young adults in the Nordic countries: A review of the literature,” International Journal of Social Welfare 23, Nr. 1 (2014)
[3] Malte Bedürftig, Solveigh Hieronimus und Julia Klier, „How business and government can bring young people into work,“ McKinsey&Company, (2015)
[4] Renate Köcher, Michael Sommer und Klaus Hurrelmann, „Die McDonald's Ausbildungsstudie,“ (2013)
[5] Arbeitsmarkt-Dossier 4/2014, „Langzeitarbeitslose in Baden-Württemberg,“ Bundesagentur für Arbeit

Client: Federal Employment Agency

Project period: November 2017 - January 2019


As part of the feasibility study, a new specific approach based on digital peer groups was developed and piloted for the target groups of young people and the target group of unemployed people with difficult conditions respectively.

By means of a field experiment, the approach showed positive effects in both target groups: Among the young people, positive trends were observed in terms of career choice status, search intensity, activity and attitude towards career choice. Among the unemployed with difficult conditions, positive tendencies could be measured in terms of willingness to acquire qualifications, digital skills, networking and interaction with the 1:1 counselling provided by the Federal Employment Agency's job placement experts. Overall, the app-based peer group counselling thus represents a value-creating and implementable addition to the usual individual career counselling or job placement.