A Study on the feasibility of developing and implementing an Erasmus+ Virtual Exchange initiative for young people

Study prepared by PPMI for DG EAC, 2017

What was the problem?

In many countries, rates of youth unemployment are much higher than those for other ages, making the number of jobless young people disturbingly large. In the EU alone, more than 4.5 million young people are unemployed, while long-term youth unemployment is also very high. High youth unemployment coincides with an increased difficulty in filling vacancies, which points to the existence of labour market mismatches due to inadequate skills. Intercultural, international, and global competencies play a crucial role in today’s knowledge society. However, no means exist to help young people develop these competencies in order to adapt to an increasingly competitive labour market. This leads to a lack of personal fulfilment, social inclusion and active citizenship. Physical exchanges and study abroad programmes are among the best means of fostering intercultural dialogue, as well as preparing young people for an increasingly interconnected world. Despite this, only a very small proportion of young people participate in these programmes. It has been estimated that only around 7.5% of the total EU student population are mobile.


What did PPMI do?

PPMI completed a study on the feasibility of Erasmus+ virtual exchanges. As part of the study, PPMI and Berlin-based Youth Policy Labs (YPL) explored the feasibility of Erasmus+ virtual exchanges to complement existing physical exchanges by offering young people access to some of the same benefits. Key aspects were analysed, ranging from marketing and facilitation to diplomacy and technology. Our recommendations were also informed by interviews with experts from various regions. In addition, PPMI analysed existing virtual exchange platforms and youth exchange formats. We provided the European Commission with options and recommendations on how to develop, pilot, roll out, and manage all aspects of the Erasmus+ Virtual Exchange (EVE) initiative, along with estimates of its cost in financial terms, as well as human resources.


How did it contribute to solving the problem?

The feasibility study demonstrated that with the right tools, choices and resources, virtual youth exchanges can be a resounding success. Erasmus+ Virtual Exchanges could create a safe and engaging online community at, where young people would be able to participate in facilitated discussions, increasing intercultural awareness and extending intercultural competences through non-formal learning. The extension of international exchanges from the physical to the virtual world has the potential to significantly increase the number of young people able to participate in, and benefit from, these programmes. 

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