Closing gaps in social citizenship. New tools to foster social resilience in Europe (EUROSHIP) (2020–2023)

The EUROSHIP project provides a new, gender sensitive and comparative assessment of the policies aimed at reducing poverty and social exclusion in Europe. The project focuses on the role of social protection systems (including minimum wage), the digitisation of work and the accessibility of social protection as well as the possibilities of social and political agency in the following groups: high-risk youth, people with care obligations who are in a precarious situation in the labour market, and the elderly or the disabled who ned long-term care. In order to maximise the social impact of the project, proposals for efficient policies shall be developed and policy-makers shall be informed of the results of work within the framework of the project together with stakeholders on the European and member state levels. 
The EUROSHIP project uses innovative ways to combine various methods, data and areas (economics, political sciences and sociology): (1) interviews related to lifecourse with low-income and poorly skilled people; (2) forums with national level stakeholders; (3) a political analysis based on the analysis of documents and semi-structured interviews conducted with experts; (4) a quantitative comparative analysis of micro-level data. The association of the results of those analyses and the four central terms (social citizenship, social resilience, capability and agency) will provide a new insight into how social rights soften the impact of risks experienced during the lifecourse and influence the social citizenship capability of people in a weak position in the system of multi-level governance. It will broaden the knowledge base on which to rely in the further implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights and thereby increase social convergence among the member states.
The project consortium is made up of representatives of different research areas from nine research establishments in eight countries and one European-level NGO. The consortium is characterised by gender balance and includes both new and experienced researchers.

The project is funded by the European Union (Horizon 2020 programme)

Team leader Prof. Dr. Marge Unt (

Mapping inequalities through the life course (MapIneq) (2022-2025)

The MapIneq project studies the trends and drivers of intergenerational, educational, labour market and health inequalities over the life course during the last decades. Our main driving research questions are: 

  1. How do local and national opportunity structures enhance, suppress or mediate inequalities? 
  2. How do changes and spillovers across the life domains and over life course contribute to inequalities?
  3. How are inequalities influenced by policies and societal shocks? 

Opportunity structures refer to social institutions, demographic and macroeconomic conditions and socio-environmental context, which we analyse across countries, regions and localities. We focus on societal changes influencing inequalities, including those related to family diversity and complexity, fertility, migration and population ageing, digitalization, the 2007-08 global financial crisis and how the covid-19 pandemic revealed and exacerbated inequalities. We compile a policy database of the educational, family, labour market, social benefits and tax-related policies, matched with subnationallevel information on social and institutional structures and physical environments. This results in an easy-to-use, open access MapIneq product, which consists of visualization and mapping tools, all underlying data, statistical programming tools, and open-access code. We link the information in the database to individual-level longitudinal and cross-country datasets to study the dynamic interplay between the spheres of life. This research is conducted under life-course stage specific work packages: Inequalities in the early childhood and families, Educational inequalities, Inequalities in school-to-work transitions, Unequal mid-career trajectories and Labour market exits. We consider how the covered societal changes are linked with the perceptions on inequalities across and within countries. We co-create solutions through discussion fora for stakeholder groups across multiple levels of governance.

The project is funded by the European Union (European Horizon program). 

Team leader Prof. Dr. Marge Unt (

Reforming secondary plastics to become the primary raw material choice for added value products (PRIMUS) (2022-2025)

Polymers are one of the most used materials in different applications, especially in consumer goods like electronics, and the consumption is only expected to rise globally. In Europe, 25,8 million tonnes of plastic waste is generated annually and less than 30 % is collected for recycling and significant shares are exported from EU to be treated elsewhere. Landfilling (31 %) and incineration (39 %) of plastics is high (together 70 %), and by these treatment options the valuable materials are lost from circulation. It is estimated that 95 % of the value of plastic packaging material, between 70-105 billion EUR, is lost annually to the economy after a very short first-use cycle. The industry is lacking standards and main barriers for efficient uptake of recyclates are due to safety concerns, low quality, and recycling rates. PRIMUS activities will increase the resilience of EU?s plastic value chains by securing supply of waste plastics as feedstock and increasing its availability through connecting value chain actors, developing methods to control quality, sampling, and analysis, and improving upgrading knowhow and characterize suitability towards added-value products. PRIMUS will prove legislative compliant, privacy preserving, cost-efficient and feasible technological pathways for tapping into non-recycled or underutilized plastic waste streams. Validated business cases will lower the risks of future investments into European manufacturing capacity. PRIMUS will address one of the core challenges identified in the EU Circular Economy Action Plan, the presence of hazardous substances (brominated flame retardants) and how to effectively and safely debrominate the waste streams for new product use. PRIMUS will contribute to circulating underutilised or non-recycled streams and create further impact by supporting additional production of 0,2 Mtonnes of rHIPS, rPC/ABS, rEPDM and rTPE, which is approximately 6 % of the expected growth of European recyclate market 2018-2024.

The project is funded by the European Union (European Horizon program). 

Team leader Dr. Eve-Liis Roosmaa (

Growing Up in Digital Europe preparation phase (GUIDEPREP) (2022-2026)

The Growing Up in Digital Europe Preparatory Phase (GUIDEPREP) project further develops the research infrastructure (RI) necessary to implement the GUIDE birth cohort study. This preparatory work will take place across 2022 to 2025 to ready the RI for the full-scale piloting of the GUIDE in 2026 and the first full wave of data collection in 2027. Once operational, GUIDE will collect data about individual children growing up in Europe until those children are aged 24-years in approximately 2053.
GUIDE will be Europe’s first comparative birth cohort study of children’s and young people’s wellbeing. The aim of the GUIDE study is to track children’s personal wellbeing and development, in combination with key indicators of children’s homes, neighbourhoods, and schools, across Europe. GUIDE will be an accelerated cohort survey including a sample of infants as well as a sample of school age children. Each Member State and Associated Country will provide nationally representative samples that are designed to retain statistical power throughout the lifetime of the study. The harmonized design will create the first internationally comparable, nationally representative, longitudinal study of children and young people in Europe.
Currently the GUIDE RI is in its preparatory phase, which involves the establishment of necessary operational procedures and further crystallisation of the study concept and design. To realise the GUIDE full-scale pilot in 2026 and first wave of fieldwork in 2027, the RI needs to develop administratively, technologically, financially, scientifically, and legally. This GUIDEPREP proposal lays out clear aims for these developments in an interlocking system of activities that are shared across consortium partners and managed by the GUIDE leadership team.

The project is funded by the European Union (European Horizon program). 

Team leader Prof. Dr. Ellu Saar (

Skills2Capabilities (2023-2025)

The Skills2Capability project is about understanding how skill systems across Europe can reduce the level of skills mismatch in their labour markets. It is recognised that future labour markets will be more mobile with more people moving between jobs, employers, and sectors more often. This poses a problem for training systems insofar as employers may be much less willing than in the past to fund and provide training because their chances of appropriating the return will have been reduced. The study is concerned with understanding how skill systems can better respond to meeting skill demands in a more fluid labour market environment. The starting point is that of considering whether there is a need to provide individuals with a wider range of capabilities to weather a greater range of labour market challenges than those faced by their counterparts from previous generations. Some countries have been able to use their skills systems to deliver more of these capabilities than others, though the impact of this on labour market transitions is uncertain (something the current study addresses). If skills systems are to confer skills on individuals which provide them with increased resilience and capability, then there is a need to know what those capabilities or skills are in practice. The research addresses this from both a demand side (what are the skills which are currently in demand and are likely to be so in the future?) and a supply side (to what extent are these capabilities reflected in VET programmes) perspective. The research will provide decision makers in government and education authorities with information which allows them to obtain a better understanding of how emerging skill needs - which meet the needs of both economy and society - can be met (essentially providing a methodology and a tool), along with detailed information about the content of those emerging skill needs and capabilities (i.e. detailed data on demand and supply).

The project is funded by the European Union (European Horizon program).

Team leader Dr. Triin Roosalu (

Life course perspectives in studying youth transitions to adulthood: bridging qualitative and quantitative approaches (YouthLife) (2020-2023)

Project ‘Life course perspectives in studying youth transitions to adulthood: bridging qualitative and quantitative approaches’ (YouthLife) aims to take research on the lifecourse of youth to a new level, bringing together top researchers who represent different methodological approaches from the leading European research centres. In cooperation with the University of Bamberg in Germany, the University of Southampton in England and the Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute (NIDI), the YouthLife project promotes lifecourse studies at Tallinn University by increasing and diversifying the methodological competence of research fellows and early-stage researchers and thereby supporting the sustainable development of the Centre of Excellence in Interdisciplinary Lifecourse Studies. YouthLife will create an international cooperation network which facilitates the exchange of knowledge and experience among research groups with different methodological specialisation and contributes to overcoming the qualitative and quantitative gap in life-course studies. As a result of the cooperation, a conceptual and methodological basis will be established for preparing and conducting ta sustainability study of Estonian youth (ELSY). 
The project will actively engage young researchers (doctoral students, post-doctoral fellows and early-stage researchers) in order to improve their research and cooperation capability and strengthen the scientific level and innovation capability of youth and lifecourse studies. The project will lay the foundation for the IISS’s school of methodology which organises intensive courses to introduce the qualitative and quantitative methods of data gathering and analysis in sustainability studies as well as theoretical and practical seminars for combining the methods of both approaches in lifecourse studies. The project will also include several RMA workshops (application for research funding, management and implementation of research projects), networking seminars, study and research visits and the promotion of long-distance cooperation among the partners. YouthLife will also contribute to improving the capabilities of the research coordination and administration support structure at Tallinn University.
The project is funded within the framework of the Twinning measure under the ‘Spreading Excellence and Widening Participation’ area of the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 programme, the aim of which is strengthening certain areas of the research institutions of the beneficiary countries, improving their integration with the leading consortiums in Europe and ensuring their more successful participation in international funding programmes.

The project is funded by the European Union (Twinning)

Team leader Prof. Dr. Ellu Saar (

Transdisciplinary solutions to cross sectoral disadvantage in youth (YOUNG-IN) (2018-2022)

The main aim of YOUNG-IN is to understand the interrelationship of disadvantages that young people face and to find policies that can mitigate these cumulating disadvantages. The main scientific challenge of the project is to broaden the knowledge of policy-makers of the causes of the interrelated disadvantages in the life domains of young people and to improve the transdisciplinary and cross-border applicability of such knowledge. The project strives to place the previously relatively separate youth policy into the mainstream approaches of modern social and employment policy (e.g. social investment policies). As a result of that, holistic interventions can be developed to mitigate the risks of disadvantage for young people without bringing about an increase in social inequality.

COST (European Cooperation in Science and Technology) is the oldest European association of research and technology, aimed at facilitating interdisciplinary cooperation and bring research and policy communities closer together. Until now, Estonian researchers have participated in the COST networks as partners – the project prepared by the Centre of Excellence of the SOGOLAS is the first one to be managed from Estonia. Professor Anu Toots is the head of the YOUNG-IN project, professor Marge Unt and associate professor Triin Lauri are members of the Estonian steering committee.


Tackling informal employment in Asia: building post-COVID-19 solutions to precariousness through case-study based evidence on Bhutan, Laos, Maldives, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam (LABOUR) (2021-2025)

According to the latest WESO report (ILO, 2020), there are over 1.4bn workers in vulnerable jobs worldwide, with numbers expected to rise in 2020 due to COVID-19. Several efforts have been made, both at domestic and international levels, to address these concerns. This includes efforts through the Sustainable Development Goals process, which includes a specific statistical indicator to measure informal employment (8.3.1), the formulation of SDG8 (decent work) and SDG9 (sustainable industrialization). Across countries and world regions, the degree to which SDGs have been used to address youth issues and inform national policies varies significantly. Indeed, in spite of the fact that the great majority of states have formally committed to addressing the SDGs, including those related to insecure employment, there is little evidence to indicate that developing regions currently have the capacity to systematically study the problems of informal employment and vulnerability in ways that facilitate the development and implementation of concrete viable solutions. This is due, in our view, to two major challenges. First, although a number of approaches that have been used inside the EU, there has been little, if any, attempt to adapt the existing framework elsewhere. Second, no systematic review of anti-precariousness policy has been attempted beyond the EU region. LABOUR is a research and training programme designed to address the above-mentioned shortfalls of research and development approaches with particular attention to a region where this is particularly worrying concern. Informal employment in Asia is estimated to account for 68.2% of the active population. By gathering a team of 14 participants that includes academic and non-academic partners working on labour insecurity, we aim not only at producing specialists on the topic and on the region but also at proposing concrete mitigation measures that can be taken into account by decision-makers and development organisations.

The project is funded by the European Union (Marie Skłodowska-Curie action)

Team leader Dr. Abel Polese (

Innovating the use of Labour Market Intelligence within European Universities (LMI-EUniv) (2022-2024)

The aim of the project is to explore and understand how European Universities are using labour market information and labour market intelligence in the planning and delivery of their provision and how can this be improved.
The project has two linked objectives. Firstly, to help HEI to develop appropriate skills and competencies through better matching of education supply to demand – by mapping the essential LMI sources at the national level and explore how HEI in Europe are using them (to match the education/courses; to inform the content of the taught curriculum, and to evidence new and emerging requirements from policymakers). We will explore the state-of-the-art in each of these themes through a mixed methodological approach embracing: a major European Higher Education survey; a series of literature reviews; interviews with university practitioners and policy makers/leaders; building good practice case studies and testing our findings through a series of major final conferences and events. These findings will be combined into a Training Course. Secondly, stimulating innovative learning and teaching practices. To support the decision-makers from HEI in using labour market information, an LMI Hub will be developed to aggregate LMI sources useful for HEI and a guide will be made available to help HEI to use LMI in planning their activity.
Therefore, the project will be developed in three directions: (1) Mapping essential LMI sources at national level, (2) Exploring how HEI in Europe are using LMI, and (3) Production of a Training course, guide and a LMI HUB.

The project is funded by the European Union (ERASMUS+ programme) 

Team leader Prof. Dr. Marge Unt (

Social exclusion of young people (2020-2023)

The project is aimed at expanding the possibilities of using survey and register data for mapping and monitoring young people who are at risk of exclusion. Young people who are outside the employment and education system as well as those who have started their career, but suffer from in-work poverty are the target group. The intention is to map and understand processes taking place in institutions and in cooperation between institutions, in order to determine the set of measures and actions which are necessary for the development of the processes and systems for organising services and which can be taken into account in furnishing the measures with activity and performance criteria (with a focus on the Youth Guarantee support system). The project will determine what the implementation of activities aimed at preventing and reducing the risk of social exclusion of young people is like on the local government level and map the coping strategies of young people in social exclusion or at risk of social exclusion. The aim is to promote cooperation with the Master’s studies of youth workers at Tallinn University and develop a model for improving the measures for supporting young people at risk of exclusion with a focus on improving the Youth Guarantee support system (YGSS).

Project in ETIS

Team leader Prof. Dr. Marge Unt (

Supporting young people to succeed – Building capacities to better integrate non-formal and formal learning in Estonia (ASCENT) (2021-2023)

The aim of the project is to analyze and the develop actionable recommendations to better integrate non-formal and formal learning. Fully adapted to the Estonian education system and context, our approach does not rely on a one-size-fits-all global methodology. Continuous stakeholder engagement, senior technical capabilities and a deep understanding of the Estonian education system and context (notably from within) are central features of our approach, and will be combined by best practices from other European countries in better integrating non-formal and formal learning. The ASCENT team is led by ICF and delivered in cooperation with Praxis, Civitta and Tallinn University.

The project is funded by the European Union (Structural Reform Support)

Team leader Dr. Eve-Liis Roosmaa (

Towards a new generation of Individual Learning Accounts (2022-2023)

The project has been launched in response to the EU-level policy initiatives on individual learning accounts (ILA), as specified in the Action 9 of the 2020 European Skill Agenda (European Commission, 2020) and the Recommendation issued by the European Council in June 2022. We explore existing frameworks for providing support to individuals for participating in adult learning, specifically analysing existing demand-side funding instruments, even if they are not meeting all the expectations outlined in the ILA recommendation. It is fully accepted that Adult Learning Systems in Member States might meet the majority of objectives outlined by the ILA Recommendation by a combination of policies implemented as part of the system, leaving no or only a specific role for the introduction of an ILA type policy. The project studies in-depth the current financing policies/instruments available to support individual learning and careers as well as the ’enabling framework’ relevant for their implementation (in particular, career guidance, validation of informal and non-formal learning, training leave arrangements, and digital portals of learning opportunities). Focusing on both ideal ILAs (as defined in the council recommendation) as well as instruments that fulfil similar functions (“functional equivalents”), five countries - Austria, Estonia, Ireland, Germany, and the Netherlands - have been selected for the implementation of in-depth case studies that aim at achieving a holistic view on the strengths and weaknesses of the given approaches. Particular attention will be paid to recently introduced or currently considered ILA type schemes. The project will enable better understanding of the potential of ILA implementation across EU.

The project is funded by CEDEFOP.

Team leader Dr. Triin Roosalu (

Closed projects