The Erasmus+ programme is offering €2.2 billion in 2016 alone to fund opportunities for nearly 600,000 young people to study, train, volunteer or participate in exchanges and projects abroad. Your national agency can advise you on refining your idea and completing your application. First, though, here’s an overview of how it works.
What is Erasmus+?
Erasmus+ brings together the European Union’s work on education, training, youth and sport. It runs from 2014 to 2020, with organisations invited to apply for funding each year for activities that help boost skills and employability, or help modernise education, training, and youth work.
This year, the focus is on projects that make education and training systems more inclusive, address the growing diversity of classrooms or tackle the risks of youth radicalisation.
Why should I apply?
Funding from Erasmus+ can cover or contribute to your costs while you learn new skills, build networks and experience a new culture.
And, although it’s about much more than getting onto the career ladder, says Alfonso Aliberti, policy and advocacy coordinator at the European Youth Forum, Erasmus+ projects can help with that too.
“It can open up the way you look for a job, both geographically speaking and sector-wise,” he says.
That’s not to mention the soft skills you’ll develop on youth projects – such as communication, conflict resolution, leadership, planning, teamwork and problem-solving – which have been found to match those demanded by employers. Once your application has been accepted, you can also access free language learning services.
So who is eligible for funding?
Erasmus+ funding is mainly given through organisations delivering formal and non-formal education, training and youth work – colleges/universities, local authorities, public or private organisations (businesses, social enterprises, non-profit organisations, etc.), sporting clubs and others. You can’t apply as an individual – you need to do so through an organisation. You can, however, apply for some opportunities as part of an informal group of young people – see below.
What funding is available for students?
There are lots of opportunities for those in higher education and vocational education and training. These include studies and traineeships abroad, placements for students of vocational colleges, and loans for master’s degrees in another country. To find out more, contact your Erasmus or study abroad coordinator at your institution.
And if I’m not?
There are two other areas worth looking into: Mobility (under Key Action 1) and Strategic Partnerships (Key Action 2). In both cases, you still need to apply as part of an organisation, like a youth group or student association – or an informal group that you set up around your area of interest (you’ll need to register your group before applying). For example, a group of seven young people got together in 2013/14 to create and deliver workshops on cyberbullying in schools in Slovakia.
Mobility funding allows you to spend time learning in another country. Options include:
- Youth exchanges enabling groups of young people (aged 13 to 30, minimum four people per group) from at least two countries to work together for 5-21 days. Participants work together on a chosen topic through workshops, exercises, debates, etc., which they design and prepare beforehand. Some examples: 30 participants from youth councils in Iceland and Sweden organised an 8-day workshop to share experience; the Icelandic group also shared their video skills with their counterparts. Or, in Lithuania, 45 participants from nine countries got together to explore and share folk legends from their countries while practising storytelling and communication skills.
- European Voluntary Service allows those aged 17-30 to take part, individually or in groups, in unpaid, full-time voluntary service abroad for up to 12 months. One recent project, for example, brought together 12 volunteers from Spain, Italy and Portugal to help organise and promote a rock festival in Romania. Find out more and browse current vacancies here.
Strategic Partnerships funding enables cooperation between organisations (or informal groups) in different countries. Though it’s aimed at organisations engaged in youth work and non-formal learning, this is understood broadly and can include, for instance, an informal group proposing an initiative that encourages active citizenship and entrepreneurship. A project can last between 6 months and 3 years, and should involve at least two partners from two different countries. An example is the 7-day course to introduce young people to starting a business, hosted by a Czech organisation and involving participants from nine countries.
Where can I get more inspiration or ideas for projects?
Have a look at what previous project grantees have done in the database of results.
Bring your own ideas as well, though, advises Aliberti.
“The priorities of Erasmus+ are meant to be wide”, he says. “From preventing youth radicalisation to entrepreneurship to minority integration – you can really be creative in the topics you propose, according to how you understand the priorities”. So, for example, the focus on preventing radicalisation could mean raising awareness about how differences in our societies have played a role in social progress.
Where can I get more information?
- Browse the Erasmus+ website and download the Erasmus+ Programme Guide for detailed info including criteria and funding deadlines.
- Use the SALTO Youth database to look for potential partners.
- Contact your national agency for support and advice on project ideas and submitting applications – you can find contact details for your country here.
- Find some application tips here
Whatever kind of opportunity you’re looking for to improve your chances of finding a job in Europe, Drop’pin@EURES has something for you. With apprenticeships, traineeships, training programmes, e-learning courses, language training, mentoring and coaching schemes, as well as various social services (e.g. help with housing), in a range of sectors, Drop’pin is Europe’s youth opportunities platform. Drop’pin and go far.