SEPAL Project’s Five-Year Success Story

SEPAL has brought together five European organisations from Romania, Spain, Lithuania, Greece, and Poland– in a collaborative effort to address youth unemployment and support vulnerable NEETs.

As the SEPAL project reaches its five-year milestone, we can affirm that it was based on a strong commitment, between five European partners, to supporting youth NEETs from diverse backgrounds.

  • Bucovina Institute Association (Romania)
  • Fundació Privada Pere Closa (Spain)
  • VšĮ Žmogiškųjų išteklių stebėsenos ir plėtros biuras (Lithuania)
  • Κοισπε Διαδρομές (Greece)
  • Fundacja Komes (Poland)

From the beginning, SEPAL, short for Supporting Employment Platform through Apprenticeship Learning, has been dedicated to offering individualised supported employment services to vulnerable youth NEETs, aged 18 to 29. Now, as we reflect on the journey and celebrate the achievements, it’s clear that SEPAL has broken barriers and built pathways to success for hundreds of young people.

With a focus on inclusivity, the project has provided tailored services to individuals facing various challenges, including low-skills, disabilities, long-term unemployment, and more. By recognising the unique needs of each participant, SEPAL has been able to offer targeted support, empowering young people to overcome obstacles and pursue meaningful employment opportunities.

At the heart of SEPAL’s success lies the WISE model – Work Integration Social Enterprise. This innovative approach has served as a blueprint for success, guiding the project’s efforts to provide effective employment support services. Through a combination of initial evaluation, apprenticeship stages, job mediation, and more, the WISE model has enabled SEPAL to deliver comprehensive support that meets the diverse needs of youth NEETs.

Some of our most significant achievements:

  • Supported employment services. Throughout the duration of the project, SEPAL has provided supported employment services to almost 900 youth NEETs, coming from different vulnerable groups, offering them the tools and resources they need to succeed in the workforce.
  • Skills development and certification. SEPAL has offered certified courses to enhance the ICT and entrepreneurial competencies of over 200 NEETs. Additionally, the project has developed guidelines for the evaluation of competencies, ensuring that participants receive recognition for their skills and competencies.
  • Collaboration with Local Stakeholders Committees. With the involvement of over 45 Local Stakeholders, SEPAL has fostered collaboration and partnership at local, regional, or national levels, ensuring that young people receive comprehensive support from their local networks.
  • Capacity building. With 30 trained coaches and mentors, five functional WISE experts, SEPAL has fostered a culture of collaboration and knowledge-sharing, enriching the employment landscape in each participating country.
  • Innovation and sustainability. Innovation lies at the heart of SEPAL’s approach, as evidenced by the development of various instruments and resources, including the SEPAL E-platform, Innovation Book, Apprenticeship Book, White Book, and Coach Guidelines, Working with vulnerable groups Guidelines, Evaluation of competencies Guidelines, SEPAL Coalition. These resources not only enhance the effectiveness of SEPAL’s interventions but also pave the way for long-term sustainability and scalability.
  • VR technology. Equipped with VR glasses, youth NEETs engaged in interactive experiences covering basic tasks and challenges, providing valuable insights and practical skills in a secure virtual environment. Through simulations as medical assistants, salespersons, housekeepers, and more, participants gained confidence and readiness for their careers.
  • NEETs Academies. The three Academies, organised under the SEPAL Project, being facilitated by Social Firms Europe CEFEC network, represented an opportunity for cross-border dialogue (between NEETs and experts across Europe) and knowledge exchange, and played an important role in evolving innovative solutions for the challenges faced by youth NEETs.
    • The first edition took place in October 2021, in Gura Humorului, Romania, and marked the genesis of a collective effort, with youth NEETs that developed business plans for their social enterprises, generating innovative ideas such as recycling IT equipment, creating sustainable clothing from recycled textiles, engaging in organic gardening, empowering women through a circular economy clothing company, and establishing an upcycling shop with jewellery made from e-waste, emphasizing sustainability and social inclusion.
    • The edition that took place in May 2022, in Siauliai, Lithuania, was the second encounter aiming at collaborative learning and exchange of ideas and practical solutions in the realm of social enterprises. Topics covered included wood recycling, IT reuse, textile reuse and women’s empowerment, bio markets, and green business practices aimed at achieving CO2 neutrality.
    • The third edition that took place in September 2023, in Itea, Greece, focused on connecting participants with local production and entrepreneurship in rural areas. Thematic workshops on honey production, olive harvesting, and leather processing enriched the holistic learning experience.
  • Creating synergies and exchanging good practices. SEPAL fostered collaboration and knowledge exchange among almost 30 projects funded by the EEA and Norway Grants – Fund for Youth Employment, reaching more than 20 European countries, and 50 organisations/ institutions. Through online and face-to-face interactive events, “Let’s NEET together!” facilitated the creation of synergies, allowing these projects to share their innovation, tools and methods, and success stories. During 11 online gatherings and 2 face-to-face meetings, Lead Partners and Beneficiary Partners, Local Stakeholders, and experts gathered to discuss challenges, brainstorm solutions, and learn from each other’s experiences.
  • The final event in the heart of Europe. The SEPAL Final Conference was held at the European Parliament, in Brussels (Belgium), on the 6thof November 2023, an represented a moment to celebrate our efforts in supporting youth NEETs employment across Europe. Organised by Bucovina Institute, the Lead Partner, this event convened experts in the field, European decision-makers, FO representatives, and all partner organisations within the SEPAL project. Hosted by MEP Dragoș Pîslaru, the conference addressed crucial priorities for youth NEETs, emphasizing the development and validation of skills through apprenticeship and learning-on-the job stages, and the importance of inclusive support systems. With over 50 participants from 28 organisations across Europe, including representatives from the European Parliament and the European Commission, the conference facilitated discussions and presentations by experts in various fields, showcasing innovative strategies and collaborative efforts to empower youth NEETs. The event underscored the significance of European collaboration in addressing social and employment challenges, reaffirming the commitment to creating opportunities and fostering inclusivity for all community members.

Our statement:

The SEPAL project consortium continues to advocate for the empowerment of youth NEETs in Europe. Our focus lies in supporting those facing barriers in education, training, or the labour market, including individuals with disabilities, migrants, refugees, and the long-term unemployed. Through apprenticeship and learning on the job stages, we aim to validate skills and provide practical pathways to employment. However, sustaining these initiatives requires additional financial support. We propose urgent financing for youth employment support services, improved communication between educational institutions and labour offices, and the creation of a European Fund for apprenticeship programs. Moreover, we emphasize the involvement of social enterprises and the promotion of green initiatives to enhance job opportunities and foster a skilled, empowered workforce.


SEPAL concludes its five-year journey with pride in its accomplishments and a renewed dedication to its mission of breaking down barriers and building pathways to employment for youth NEETs. The project has empowered hundreds of young people, enabling them to pursue their goals and aspirations. Through collaboration, innovation, and unwavering commitment, SEPAL has made a significant impact on creating a more inclusive and prosperous society.

Alina Gafița (Adomnicăi)
Communication manager, SEPAL Project


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