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With this workshop, the European Social Network (ESN) focused on vulnerable youth aged 18-25 with an emphasis on young adults with mental health problems, young adults leaving care, and young adults with a third country background. Speakers from across Europe analysed practice on planning and implementing coordinated strategies and services between education, employment and social services at local level.

Education, training, and employment in its various forms across EU member states framed the workshop and whilst some speakers provided a comparative perspective across European countries, others gave an insight into national, regional or local aspects. What the different presentations had in common was a strong emphasis on the role of public authorities and different forms of local social services’ involvement.

The participation of vulnerable young adults in education and training

Education and training were considered to be important drivers of youth empowerment and better labour market outcomes. The workshop started by casting a light on the European policies that are relevant for young people in the framework of the Europe 2020 Strategy. Speakers emphasised local partnerships for youth in securing school graduation, transition into apprenticeships, and in obtaining vocational diplomas.

Pedro Cunha from the Portuguese Ministry of Education provided a European perspective on early leaving from education and training, its drivers and responses, including the extension of learning time and individualised curricula.

Matthias Schulze-Böing from the Association of Local Employment Policy in Germany elaborated on the over-proportionate representation of young adults with a third country background among social welfare recipients in the City of Offenbach, and outlined a network management approach as well as a local monitoring system to keep track of transitions.

Addressing school-to-work transitions and the youth guarantee implementation

Transition periods, and particularly school-to-work transitions, are acknowledged as critical in life. As such, practice examples highlighted the role of public services in providing tailored support to access and remain in employment. The meeting paid particular attention to the adaptation and implementation of support towards young adults with complex needs.

Ulrike Storost from the European Commission’s Directorate General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion explained the implementation of the youth guarantee scheme and showcased various pilot projects. She referred to an entrepreneurship pilot in Galicia in Spain, where they managed to achieve results in bringing young people into employment.

Martin Lebègue from the County Council of Pas-de-Calais in France presented the ‘Garantie Jeunes’, as an example of how the European Youth Guarantee has been adapted at the local level. For young people leaving care, he underlined the importance of maintaining housing and financial autonomy.

Charlene Mullan from the Education Board Authority in Northern Ireland (United Kingdom) shared how important peer support was for her when she was a service user.

During the discussions, it was stressed the importance of an integrated approach between education, employment, and social services, and it became clear that coordinated services respond more effectively to users’ needs. ESN has chosen service integration as a lead topic for its 2015 working programme and is integrating practices relevant to youth into this theme.