Policies Supporting Young People in their Life Course. A Comparative Perspective of Lifelong Learning and Inclusion in Education and Work in Europe

Throughout Europe, many young adults face difficulties in their transition from schooling to working life. A large number of young people leave formal education either too early or lacking the necessary and adequate qualifications and skills for a successful entry into the labour market. This has severe impacts both at individual and societal levels in terms of personal and economic growth as well as in terms of social inclusion and cohesion.

Furthermore, the living conditions of young adults across European societies vary substantially from region to region, which creates different challenges for young people to be able to cope with societal needs and expectations and to integrate these successfully in their life projects and life styles. In order to be able to develop sustainable life projects, young people have to be enabled to create subjective meaning and continuity along the different phases, domains, and spheres of their life courses. In the current economic context of post-recession after the financial crisis of 2007/2008, the social and economic situation of young adults has deteriorated in many regions throughout Europe calling for a reassessment of the distributional effects of policies targeting young people, especially those in vulnerable positions. In a context of precarity and scarcity of jobs, there is need to understand how this new context is shaping the educational and professional aspirations and life chances of young adults.

Against the background of a high fragmentation and persistent weakness and ineffectiveness of adult education policies across Europe, we set out to enquire into the specific forms of embedding of these policies in the regional economy, the labour market, the education/training systems and the individual life projects of young adults. In the focus of attention are lifelong learning policies aimed at creating economic growth and, at the same time, guaranteeing social inclusion that target young adults in vulnerable situations, for instance those not in education or training (NEETs) or those in situations of near social exclusion. The international comparative research project “Policies supporting young Adults in their life course. A Comparative Perspective of Lifelong Learning and Inclusion in Education and Work in Europe”, in short YOUNG_ADULLLT starts at this point by focusing on the various lifelong learning policies (LLL) for young adults and analysing their potentially competing (and possibly ambivalent) orientations and objectives. The objective is to yield insights into their implications as well as intended and unintended effects on young adult life courses. YOUNG_ADULLLT aims at critically analysing current developments of LLL policies in Europe in order to prevent ill-fitted policies from further exacerbating existing imbalances and disparities as well as at identifying best practices and patterns of coordinating policy-making at local/regional level.