Erasmus+ replaced seven former programmes, bringing them under one umbrella in order to offer a wider group of people in the EU the opportunity to spend time studying, teaching or training abroad. The focus is on four different fields - education, training, youth and sport - and the goal is to improve your skills and increase your employability.
The current programme has been set out for a period of seven years from 2014 up to 2020, and it has been allocated a budget that is 40 percent more than it was previously. This means there is a hefty amount of money available which gives you one the chance to be one of the over 4 million people from Europe who are going to get a chance to take part. There are also other changes to the previous programmes that widen the scope of Erasmus+ and make it more focussed on achieving its objectives.
The money comes from the EU's budget. It has allocated this money because it has taken a long term view with regard to Erasmus+ and sees it as part of its plan for growth and jobs. In particular it wants to make young people more employable by giving them additional skills. Specifically, the EU wants fewer young people to leave school early, and it wants 40 percent of young people to get a higher education. It recognises that there is a skills gap in many sectors of the economy across the EU, and it hopes that with Erasmus+ and other initiatives and programmes, those skills’ gaps can be bridged.
The phrase skills’ gap sounds like official jargon, and it is – it is used by EU politicians all the time. But it is something that is important to you because of the opportunities that it presents. It basically means that the EU does not think that it is going to have the right people with the right skills and knowledge in the right places. As a result it is willing to invest in you personally to help you gain more skills and improve your education. Along the way you will also experience a new culture, meet new people, and broaden your horizons.