Can community action unlock and deepen skills of those disconnected from the labour market?

Modes of learning outside formal settings (informal and non-formal learning) have received much attention over the past decade as a means to counter social and economic inequalities. EULER applies this concept to the urban scale. We believe that community actions call upon skills and competences of local residents that tend to remain hidden from the official labour market.

Our experience of initiating and supporting urban community actions throughout Europe teaches us that in order to further the development of their local area people are very motivated to contribute their capabilities and even learn new things. With this action-research we want to find out and test if these skills can also increase participants’ agency in the official labour market. We want to find out what those skills are, how they should be certified and how they can be promoted.

With community projects in four European cities (London, Antwerp, Berlin and Barcelona), EULER sets out to investigate the potential concealed in residents of urban areas described as critical or deprived. This action-research specifically addresses those disconnected from the labour market and formal educational institutions. We assume that the participants are easier to reach and to encourage when they are concerned with actions that are meaningful for their direct environment.

The 9-months-long community projects, running from September 2016 till June 2017, will pay special attention to

  • the possible alternatives to formal modes of learning
  • the benefits of neighbourhood-scale action for alternative learning
  • the need and ways of recognising/certifying skills and competences by employers, the wider public and the participants themselves.

In a more general way, we hope that project EULER can make a valuable contribution to the analysis of the changing working world, and the skills and competences that are needed therein. We will therefore not only look at the traditional labour market and its sectors but also at alternative modes to earn one’s livelihood (the rise of services like Uber, free-lancing, commons-based economies). Above all, we strongly believe that social and creative skills play an important role in our future world, and that it is a question of social justice to constantly question our traditional schemes of education and certification.

We four partners of EULER –City Mine(d) from London, Tesserae from Berlin, NDVR from Antwerp and Transit from Barcelona– are well-experienced not-for-profit organisations in the field of community work and urban citizenship. The simultaneous activities in four different European locations will help understanding the differences and commonalities of places. At the same time, participants will be involved in online exchange with their partners abroad. The EULER project is supported by the EU Erasmusplus programme.