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In recent years, young people’s opportunities have been affected severely by the socio-economic crisis, leading to higher rates of social exclusion and unemployment. However, some youth groups are more vulnerable than others. Social services crucial to identify and work with these vulnerable young people. They form an essential element in integrated service models based on cooperation with services like education, employment, health, justice, or housing.


ESN started working on youth in its 2012 seminar 'Vulnerable Youth in Transition' focused on two particularly vulnerable groups of young people – those leaving care and early school-leavers. ESN’s member forum in 2013 asked our members for their priorities within ESN’s activities and resulted in a strong call to acknowledge the social, professional, and educational challenges for Europe’s young people, particularly for the more vulnerable among them.

Consequently, ESN’s 2015 workshop ‘European youth between education and employment - Improving young people's participation in society’ reviewed policies and practices addressing three selected youth groups, young adults with mental health problems, young adults leaving care, and young adults with a third country background.

ESN’s 2016 workshop about young offenders reviewed public services addressing the needs of young people, who have been exposed to the justice system. Many of these young people have dropped out of school, face troubled family background, have a public care background, or suffer from learning disabilities. A strong focus on the outcomes of services across different sectors was at the heart of this event.


The Europe 2020 Strategy saw the EU adopt an EU-wide Recommendation aimed to reduce early school leaving below 10% by 2020 and to raise employment of the 20-64 year-olds up to 75%. For both targets, better outcomes for young people in education and employment are necessary.

To contribute to achieving better results, the EU has recommended to member states to implement the Youth Guarantee. The ‘Youth Guarantee’ constitutes a scheme, in which a young person receives a quality offer of employment, continued education, an apprenticeship or a traineeship within a period of four months of becoming unemployed or leaving formal education. ESN members have been involved in the implementation of the Youth Guarantee at the local and regional level and come up with innovative concepts to turn the Youth Guarantee into a successful initiative.


ESN’s practice library contains numerous examples from our seminars and conferences regarding different groups of vulnerable young adults, including a separate practice section on young people.

ESN Resources