In the European Union early school leaving is a major problem. According to the EU definition, early school leavers are young people between the ages of 18 and 24 who have failed to complete their secondary education. Early school leaving is a complex phenomenon, linked to social exclusion, unemployment, poverty, learning difficulties, personal or family problems.

EU countries have committed to reducing the average share of early school leavers to less than 10% by 2020.

In 2009, more than six million young people across Europe – 14.4% of the 18-24 age groups – ended their school education system with a lower secondary qualification or less. Even more worrying is the 17.4% who only completed primary education (Eurostat, Labor Force Survey (LFS), 2010). There have been different initiatives to reduce the number of early school leavers but the drop out of young people facing social barriers and disadvantages remains a problem. Reducing early school leaving is one of the main factors which influence the young people’s opportunities to access employment.