The European programme supporting formal, informal and non-formal education, training, youth and sport provides opportunities for both individuals and organisations with a view to modernising and advancing the quality of systems and approaches in these fields; improving key competences and skills; enhancing the relationship between education and the needs of the employment market; reducing youth unemployment and combatting early school leaving; fostering lifelong learning and encouraging volunteering and civic participation. In the fields of education (at various levels), training and youth, the programme is structured to support:

  • Mobility of learners, students, apprentices, teachers, trainers, young people and youth workers (Key Action 1).
  • Cooperation projects for innovation and exchange of good practices (Strategic Partnerships) (Key Action 2):
  • Policy reforms (Key Action 3).

Separately, in the field of sport, the programme supports:

  • Not-for-profit European events
  • Collaborative partnerships

The programme also finances Jean Monnet activities designed to promote excellence in teaching and research in the field of European Union studies.

Beneficiaries: universities, schools, Vocational Education & Training (VET) providers, associations, youth organisations, local and regional authorities.

Visit Programme website

EU Budget

€14.7 billion for 2014-2020 (€170 million allocation to Ireland) that will provide opportunities for over 4 million Europeans to study, train, gain experience, and volunteer abroad.

Project example

Louth County Council and Meath County Council, through their LEOs, have been partners to the SHIP project which aimed to break down barriers to the effective transfer and implementation of innovation between academic research and the local business community. The wider project involved the formation of a number of regional ‘Innovation Alliances’ across Europe, built on the fostering of synergies among key economic ecosystems stakeholders (Higher Education Institutes, SMEs and local development and government agencies. For their part, both Irish local authorities have focussed on tapping into long-standing cross-border economic cooperative arrangements to engage closely with Newry & Mourne Enterprise Agency and with Intertrade Ireland among others to create a new culture of collaboration in innovation support (Cross-border Territorial Innovation Alliance). As well as providing training to enable SMEs’ access to and use of academic research in order to boost their innovation capacity and competitiveness (including familiarisation with Horizon 2020 prospects), and providing HEIs with local economic guidance to inform new methodologies for innovation transfer, a key action pursued in an island of Ireland context has been to make a detailed case to the Governments in both jurisdictions that a mainstream innovation development programme for SMEs with innovation potential is required throughout the cross-border region to harness the expertise and resources of the HEIs as a means to generate direct economic benefit – particularly in the post-Brexit era. The model was subsequently successful in gaining large-scale funding from the current Interreg 5A Cross-border programme between Northern Ireland, Ireland and Western Scotland as the Co-Innovate initiative. SHIP itself received €563,000 in Erasmus+ support from 2014-2016 as a ‘Knowledge Alliance’ under Key Action 2 (Cooperation for Innovation & the Exchange of Good Practices).

Contacts in Ireland (National Agencies)

VET, adult education, schools and youth actions:


Higher Education actions:

Higher Education Authority

Certain strands of the programme are managed directly by the EACEA Education, Audio-visual and Culture Executive Agency on behalf of the European Commission’s Directorate General for Education and Culture (DGEAC).