An inclusive labour market aiming at full employment is vital for ensuring both successful economies and societies. As such, it should be supported by well-developed and responsive education systems and other methods for updating skills. Challenges raised by the future of work, such as digitalisation, automation, or wider economic crises, require strong local, national and regional partnerships between education, employment/skills groups and other organisations.
ESF transnational cooperation helps to reach out to groups such as those furthest away from the labour market and/or experiencing long-term unemployment.
This community of practice revolves around three sub-themes: integration into employment of young, disadvantaged people not in employment, education or training (NEETs); long-term unemployed people and employability of inactive persons; and, education and skills.
Integration into employment of young, disadvantaged people not in employment, education or training (NEETs)
According to Eurostat, the indicator of not in employment, education or training (NEET) corresponds to the percentage of the population of a given age group that is not employed and not involved in further education or training. The ESF Regulation does not provide a definition of NEET. Rather, fulfilment of this criteria is determined in accordance with national eligibility rules and the European Commission provides guidance to Member States.
Young people not in employment, education or training are at risk of disengaging from society (education, employment and more widely) and therefore they are also at risk of not having the same life chances as their peers. This sub-theme will organise specific activities to explore this topic and create practical outputs to help ESF/ESF+ stakeholders with projects supporting the integration of NEETs vocational training and the labour market.
Publication: Practical guide - creating pathways for support for vulnerable young people to enter training and the labour market
Long-term unemployed people and employability of inactive persons
Long-term unemployed people can be considered as those who are registered as unemployed and have been out of work for 18 months. Inactive persons are those who are not working but have not registered as unemployed. For example, this could include women who have caring responsibilities. Building on the long-term unemployment (LTU) project, this sub-theme aims at developing further ways to increase the employability of inactive persons and those far away from the labour market, including older workers (50+), via the ESF/ESF+.
Education and skills
Having the right level of education and skills is an important foundation for good labour market prospects. Effective education, training and up, re-skilling policies can indeed enhance personal development, encourage active citizenship and strengthen equity, as well as promoting social inclusion and integration. This goes beyond secondary education and considers digital learning experiences, apprenticeships and how youth mobility can be used within education and training, learning lessons from Erasmus+. It also addresses how to decrease the number of early school leavers and how to encourage life-long learning, aiming to achieve inclusive education. It will also reflect on the green skills required for the future labour market, encouraging the path towards the twin green and digital transition.
This sub-theme also looks to address the overarching question “How can the ESF contribute to increasing the attractiveness of work-based learning, including apprenticeships?”
Publication: Engaging employers in work-based learning and apprenticeships: A recommendations paper
Find out what activities have taken place as part of this community of practice. Use the menu below to see each activity.
Please note: Activities are being updated on an ongoing basis.
The kick-off meeting jump-started the work of the Community of Practice on Employment, Education and Skills in the framework of the ESF Transnational Cooperation Platform. The aim of the kick-off meeting was to present and discuss the objectives of the community of practice, the sub-themes and the work programme in place until June 2022, allowing members to express interest in hosting or participating in mutual learning events, and to introduce communication mechanisms and ways of co-working.
Under the ESF, various initiatives have been taken to promote the mobility of disadvantaged young people, such as the ESF-funded ‘Learning Network on Transnational Mobility Measures for Disadvantaged Youth and Young Adults’ (TLN Mobility).
This peer-to-peer training event looked at how managing authorities and intermediate bodies can create the conditions for vulnerable young people to enter training, education, or employment. The peer-to-peer training discussed how calls for proposals can be created to allow project partners to build mutual trust, engage with vulnerable young people and encourage projects to bring together partners to create holistic, community-based solutions.
- Agenda: ESF TCP Peer to Peer Training on creating pathways of support for vulnerable young people to enter training and the labour market (2021) - English (117 KB - PDF)
- Summary report: ESF TCP Peer to Peer Training on creating pathways of support for vulnerable young people to enter training and the labour market (2021) - English (171 KB - PDF)
This peer review explored different integrated service models and outreach measures. It looked at examples of how managing authorities and intermediate bodies have used ESF funding to pilot a case management approach to working with long-term unemployed and inactive people. Participants also had an opportunity to look at how partnerships can be used as an important tool for developing integrated services, and how ESF managing authorities can play a role in encouraging the development of integrated services.
- Agenda: ESF TCP Peer Review on effective integrated service models and outreach measures for the long-term unemployed and inactive people (2021) - English (119 KB - PDF)
- Summary report: ESF TCP Peer Review on effective integrated service models and outreach measures for the long-term unemployed and inactive people (2021) - English (147 KB - PDF)
This peer review explored how the ESF can support disadvantaged groups to successfully participate in and complete mobility programmes. It explored how additional support can be provided to such groups before, during and after the mobility experience within country and between different countries. The event also explored synergies with other mobility programmes, such as Erasmus+.
This peer review was organised around the topic of ‘How can the ESF encourage employer engagement in delivering work-based learning and apprenticeships?’ The peer review explored the importance of employer engagement in the development of work-based learning programmes. The event also looked at how employers can be engaged in work-based learning and apprenticeships that focus on green skills.
This meeting provided an opportunity for the community of practice members to hear about developments to date, and to give input into future activities across the three sub-themes: education and skills, long-term unemployed and employability of inactive people, and integration of young people not in employment, education or training (NEETs). Members mentioned that they have appreciated the activities so far and suggested practices that could be covered as well as tools and methods that would help to make future activities as practical as possible, such as peer-to-peer counselling sessions and graphical depictions of concepts and themes in reports. Members also agreed that measuring soft outcomes remains an area of significant interest and the community of practice is looking at ways to take this topic forward.
This study visit, hosted by the City of Munich, explored the Munich Qualification Programme supporting the vocational and social integration of different groups (including long-term unemployed and inactive people) into the labour market. The event explored the ‘Power M -Empowerment of Women’ project, which supports women who are returning to the labour market after breaks due to caring responsibilities. The study visit was for managing authorities and intermediate bodies working on actions to support long-term unemployed and inactive people.
- Agenda: ESF TCP Study Visit on promoting training and other opportunities that match labour market needs with the needs of long-term unemployed and inactive people (2021) - English (130 KB - PDF)
- Summary report: ESF TCP Study Visit to Munich Employment and Qualification Programme: promoting training and other opportunities that match labour market needs with the needs of long-term unemployed and inactive people (2021) - English (206 KB - PDF)
This meeting provided an opportunity for interested community of practice members to come together to find out more about the aims and objectives of the new working group on measuring soft outcomes. Soft outcomes are the outcomes that are not tangible or cannot be measured, such as increased confidence and self-esteem, confidence, and work readiness among others. Measuring soft outcomes can help to track the progress of those furthest away from the labour market and see what activities help such target groups to become more included in society, become more employable, or move towards employment, education and training. The meeting was an opportunity for ESF+ managing authorities and stakeholders to learn more about the added value of measuring soft outcomes and to hear about existing approaches and tools.
- Agenda: ESF TCP Working group on Measuring Soft Outcome Launch Event (2022) - English (105 KB - PDF)
- Summary report: ESF TCP Working group on Measuring Soft Outcomes Launch Event (2022) – English (165 KB – PDF)
This was the first full working group meeting. It provided a space for participants to discuss the process guidance that needs to be in place for ESF managing authorities and intermediate bodies to measure soft outcomes; outlined the information that can be shared between managing authorities as well as between different practices and managing authorities and it also set out the actions for working group members to take forward the process guidance. The working group gave the members a chance to reflect and think practically about their specific needs and contexts.
Agenda: ESF TCP Working group on Measuring Soft Outcomes First Meeting (2022) - English (141 KB - PDF)
Summary report: ESF TCP Working group on Measuring Soft Outcomes First Meeting (2022) – English (165 KB – PDF)
This workshop provided an opportunity for interested community of practice members look at the question ‘how can tracking systems assist providers in improving the employment sustainability of long-term unemployed persons?’ The workshop provided a platform to share good practices in the development of systems to identify approaches supporting the sustainable employment of long-term unemployed persons following their participation in ESF programmes. Tracking systems can facilitate sustainability following labour market integration and the event looked at their use, identified different approaches and conducive support systems.
This study visit looked at how the ESF+ can support and encourage preventative approaches to targeting young people, including partnerships, to deliver effective outreach measures. The event explored how the right conditions can be created to enable the project and wider programme to be established, and be supported, including the right environment for partnerships to be established. Participants were able to learn more about the approach used in Estonia, and the practice of the Youth Prop-Up Programme, which is a pilot programme that identified, engaged and worked with young people to support them to move closer or enter employment, education or training.
Agenda: ESF TCP Study visit on Targeting young people through effective preventative approaches and effective outreach (2022) - English (141 KB - PDF)
Summary report: ESF TCP Study visit on Targeting young people through effective preventative approaches and effective outreach (2022) – English (165 KB – PDF)
This study visit discussed how synergies between different types of activities, such as digital learning in schools, work-based learning and at the workplace can be facilitated. Discussions focused on digitalisation in VET and work-based learning, against the context of the COVID-10 pandemic having accelerated developments in virtual learning environments. The study visit also discussed the role of the ESF in supporting governments by complementing action plans and initiatives. The study visit specifically explored different initiatives, projects and approaches used in Belgium-Flanders.
Agenda: ESF TCP Study visit on Practical actions to encourage the development of high-quality digital learning experiences in Belgium-Flanders (2022) - English (122 KB - PDF)
The second working group meeting on measuring soft outcomes provided a space for working group members to look at and share experiences relating to some areas of the process guidance. The meeting discussed how ESF managing authorities and intermediate bodies can create internal buy-in and agree what to measure and why, the involvement of stakeholders internally and externally and key considerations for undertaking a needs analysis.
Agenda: ESF TCP Working group on Measuring Soft Outcomes Second Meeting (2022) - English (84 KB - PDF)
Summary report: ESF TCP Agenda: ESF TCP Working group on Measuring Soft Outcomes Second Meeting (2022) – English (131 KB – PDF)
The webinar provided participants with the opportunity to learn from the successful Erasmus+ activities that have ensured positive outcomes from mobility for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds. The webinar also looked at the road to the new ALMA (Aim, Learn, Master, Achieve) initiative and how it builds on ESF experiences with transnationality mobility and complementarity with Erasmus+, transferable lessons from Erasmus+ mobility for the ALMA target group and practical tips and tools from Erasmus+ national agencies around ensuring learners from disadvantaged backgrounds benefit from mobility.
The webinar focused on the topic of co-production, which is a valuable way to involve the target group to implement a proposed solution for them. Co-production with young people is not extensively used within the ESF+ context but it has been used in other programmes outside of ESF+. Participants heard about the UK based Talent Match programme, which embedded co-production with young people throughout the programme from design to delivery. The webinar discussed the transferable lessons for managing authorities in terms of how calls for proposals can be developed with co-production in mind, how projects can support young people and how they can be involved in strategic decision making.
Agenda: ESF TCP Webinar on Co-production with young people (2022) - English (109 KB - PDF)