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Integrating vulnerable and marginalized groups into vocational education and training through innovative solutions

There is high (youth) unemployment in several EU countries. These present the latest examples from e.g. Greece, Spain or Italy. Other countries such as Germany or Austria are suffering a brain drain, and consequent depletion of knowledge sources, due to emigration of highly skilled and knowledgeable people. To ensure a broad and productive regional knowledge base, which would enable innovation, regions should develop an integrated human capital agenda. A main pillar of such an agenda is the use of regional untapped potential. To date scholars have only examined the meaning of highly skilled workers as knowledge-holders thereby neglecting the role of vulnerable and marginalized (VAM) groups. This paper focuses on the (re-)integration of vulnerable and marginalized groups to the vocational education and training (VET) system and labour markets using innovative VET solutions such as the approach of mentoring, social media (Web 2.0 and 3.0) as well as social networks. Social networks in particular, contain potential such as the formation of regional social capital through the ability of learners to interact in common learning situations, which may raise regional human capital of vulnerable and marginalized groups. Vice versa, if human capital accumulates into a strong regional knowledge base, which can be used for regional (economical) issues, the result will be regional social capital increases.