The project “Increasing Employability Rates of Disadvantaged Young People – A Peer Learning Approach” materialized with an international mobility event held in Brussels from January 28 to February 2, 2023. This initiative was a response to the alarming unemployment rates among young people under 25 in the European Union. As of December 2021, 2.7 million young people in the EU were unemployed, with 2.2 million residing within the euro area. The project’s inception coincided with a crucial debate in the European Parliament on addressing the detrimental impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on youth employment, education, and mental health.


The training event in Brussels brought together 29 youth workers from our partner organisations in Turkey (EIG), Slovenia (Klub koroških študentov, KKS), Georgia (Social Innovation and entrepreneurship Center – SiNC), Armenia (Youth for Development Foundation), Serbia
(Interkulturalis), Greece (EKO), North Macedonia (Koalicija na Mladinski Organizaciisega Prilep and Zip Institute), Lithuania (TAVO Europa), and Belgium.


The project emphasized informal learning methodologies to enhance the employability skills of young people, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds. This approach aimed to foster their inclusion in the current labor market. Concretely, to address the skills deficit among vulnerable youth in Europe, the project set forth two primary objectives. Firstly, it aimed to improve the capacity of youth workers to effectively reach, train, and assist NEET (Not in Education, Employment, or Training) youngsters in entering the labor market during the post-COVID recovery period. Secondly, it sought to increase NEET youngsters’ employability rates through non-formal education initiatives.


Specific objectives included raising awareness about youth unemployment in Europe, understanding and finding solutions for unemployment among disadvantaged youth, integrating EU youth employment mechanisms into youth work, and addressing the skills mismatch between available jobs and young people’s digital and technological competencies. Additionally, the project focused on empowering youth workers with entrepreneurial skills and mindsets, enabling them to transfer these skills to the NEET youngsters they work with.


The project followed a peer learning approach, ensuring a fruitful exchange of best practices among partners and participants. This methodology aimed to positively impact youth workers in their daily interactions with disadvantaged youth, creating long-term benefits for both participants and partner organizations. The project successfully attracted more young people to partner organizations’ networks through non-formal training sessions focused on labor market inclusion.


Furthermore, the initiative enhanced the capacity of partner organizations to inspire and implement peer learning strategies, developed a deeper understanding of EU and national employability programs, and created more opportunities for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds. The project also strengthened the ability of partner organizations to establish new partnerships at the European level, reinforcing their transnational, regional, and international networks.


Finally, youth workers who participated in the project acquired essential competencies that improved their professional skills and performance when engaging with NEET youngsters. The training event provided these workers with practical tools and methodologies to better support NEET youngsters, ultimately enhancing their employability and inclusion in the labor market through non-formal education and peer learning approaches.