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European Social Fund Plus

Community of Practice: Employment, Education and Skills

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.