Research Programme

Education as Welfare
Enhancing opportunities for socially vulnerable youth


A considerable number of young persons is increasingly exposed to social disqualification and even disaffiliation. Education is regarded as a primary means to tackle this development. The Marie Curie ITN "Education as Welfare - Enhancing opportunities for socially vulnerable youth in Europe" (EduWel) aims to consolidate research on education and welfare and evaluate its capacity to tackle the multiple challenges and pressures a large proportion of young people in Europe faces in transition from school to working life.

The scientific objective of the research and training programme is to identify factors with which to extend young people's opportunities and capabilities in work, autonomy and participation - the central dimensions of welfare using the theoretical framework of the Capability Approach (Sen, Nussbaum).

EduWel will deliver interdisciplinary knowledge that will close the capability gap by extending socially vulnerable young peoples opportunities and abilities to live a life they have reason to value and to help them fully participate in society.

EduWel will build a network of international excellent early stage researchers (ESRs) and experienced senior researchers devoted to analysis of existing datasets and the collection of comparative data and complementary qualitative research on socially vulnerable young people in the following Working Groups:


WORKING GROUP 1 ‘Education and welfare in transition to adulthood: methodological and empirical issues’

The Working Group1 consists of four academic institutions, two based in Italy (University of Florence and Institute for Advanced Study, Pavia) and two in Sweden (Gothenburg and Umeå) and, in addition the associated partner ORSEU, an non-academic research institute from France (Lille).

Main focus

The Working Group One is investigating:

  • The relation between investments in education and future welfare outcomes in terms of autonomy, voice and work.
  • The methodological issues involved in estimating such capabilities.

This Working Group particularly focuses on conceptual, methodological and empirical issues related to the operationalization of the capability approach. The ESRs will receive particular training in the use of statistics and econometric models. If applicable, secondary datasets will be combined and triangulated with qualitative research.


The four doctoral research topics in Working Group 1




Human capital and human capabilities


(Gothenburg and Pavia)




Young peoples’ living conditions and the activation of capabilities in the transitions to adulthood’



(Gothenburg and Pavia)




Structural conditions, youth characteristics and institutions affecting young people’s capabilities and successful transitions to adulthood’


(Umeå and Florence)




Capabilities of socially vulnerable youth


(Umeå and Florence)


Working group 2: Welfare institutions as facilitators of educational processes

The Working Group 2 consists of Bielefeld University in Germany, the University of Applied Science, Western Switzerland in Lausanne and the research institute of the European Trade Union in Brussels (Belgium). In addition the group consists of two associated partners: the BBJ gGmbh in Brussels and the Bertelsmann Foundation in Gütersloh (Germany).

Main focus

The Working Group Two is investigating:

The Working group 2 focuses on the ‘impact of welfare institutions on educational processes’.

The WG will analyse:

• Well- being from the perspective of welfare systems, social services and social problems.

• Needs and entitlements of young people and assessment of how welfare services may act as non-formal educational and training arrangements that contribute to their well-being

Furthermore, the ESRs’ projects will evaluate professional education, public policies, services and social arrangements. The projects will focus on the non-formal educational influence – in particular employment-oriented – that social support systems exert on the autonomy and voice of socially vulnerable youth.

The six doctoral research topics in Working Group 2



Emancipation from the poverty trap: Agency as performance indicator of youth welfare investment


(GER, Bielefeld)



Biographical views of young emigrants on (social) participation and negotiation I infamily, institutions and the public


(GER, Bielefeld)


Diversity in Education


(GER, Bielefeld)



Capability for voice: Participation of youth from low-income families


(Switzerland, Lausanne)


Enhancing opportunities and employability through training and education programmes


(Switzerland, Lausanne)


Well-being and employability – the value of education for socially vulnerable young people


(ETUI, Belgium/Brussels).


WORKING GROUP 3 ‘Post-compulsory education as welfare’

Working Group Three consists of four partner institutions: Nottingham (UK), Institute of Education, London (UK), Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań (Poland), Education International Research Institute in Brussels, and an associated partner, the Technical University of Valencia (Spain).

Main focus

Working Group Three is investigating ‘Post-compulsory education as welfare’.

The WG will have an overall focus:


  • Educational institutions as opportunity providers for socially vulnerable youth.


  • Diverse young people, especially young women, in post-compulsory education and the expansion of their opportunities to participate in the emerging EU welfare architecture.

The five doctoral research topics in Working Group 3




Further education and the expansion of opportunities for diverse young women






Post Compulsory Education, pedagogies and the expansion of young people’s agency







Post compulsory education under pressures of Europeanisation (equity, access and social change)







Transformations of opportunity structures for diverse young people – education, public services and the labour market






Well-being and outcomes of educational pathways




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