Work and Equal Opportunities

EP-DeM Labs

Equity, Participation, Decision Making Labs

Engaging disadvantaged youth in the development of projects and measures aimed at improving their education level and employability

EP-DeM Labs sought to engage and enable disadvantaged youth (16-24) in transition moments across 4 cities/regions in Europe to express their voices, co-develop and co-delivery projects and measures aimed at improving their education level and employability. The laboratories of dialogue and co-design experimented aim at having the ground-breaking role of permanent generators of knowledge and incubators of innovation in education, training and employment systems. 

EP-DeM Labs tackled the issue of youth social disengagement, having consequences on their education, training and/or employability levels through an holistic approach, starting from the individual’s empowerment and arriving to the systemic change in considering “the youth issue” by education and training structures, counselling and employment providers and policy makers. 

The aims off this project were:

  • To build evidence, experiment and scale up the intrinsic linkages between a holistic approach, not focussing on single measures to improve educational outcomes of the disadvantaged youth, but on their participation, empowerment and engagement and on the responsiveness and flexibility of the systems themselves;
  • To develop and test a new approach to the professional figure of the “youth worker”, as a real agent of change that can influence and play an active role as model also in formal education, training and employment frameworks;
  • To adopt, adapt and develop innovative dialogue and self-empowerment experiences and approaches targeting excluded youth, typically relegated to the informal and youth work contexts, to engage them in an open dialogue and co-design of education, social and employment measures targeting them;
  • To prepare and engage education and employment service providers and the relevant policy makers in VET and employment to dialogue in a continuous manner and to structurally integrate the outcomes of the dialogue with youth in program and project design, delivery and implementation mechanisms;
  • To develop a set of innovative, sustainable and cost-effective tools encouraging local, National and European policy makers to integrate direct voices and ideas of youth in planning and delivery of educational and employment services directed to the most disadvantaged, and to undertake a path toward a genuine and transparent evidence-based policy making.

Within the project ZSI was responsible for the impact and scalability evaluation. To assess the impact, quantitative and qualitative methods were used. The scalability was assessed in a workshop with consortium partners and interviews with key stakeholders.


  • Magª. Berenike Ecker, M.E.S. MSc (project leader)
  • Magª. Caroline Manahl
  • Lisa Bliberger
  • Mag. Dr. Klaus Schuch

Section: Work and Equal Opportunities


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Type: Research

Program: Erasmus+

Submission Date: 02/2015

Project Status: Finished

Start/End: 01/2016 - 12/2017

Project Duration: 24 months