Following the economic recession and the imposition of austerity policies, school to work transitions have become increasingly problematic in many European countries. On some countries this has resulted in very high levels of youth unemployment, whilst for those in employment, jobs are increasingly perilous. At the same time, the rapid introduction of new technologies is having a major impact on labour markets, both in terms of numbers employed in particular occupations but also in terms of the composition of jobs in skills and knowledge.

The European Union has launched the Youth Guarantee, an ambitious EU-wide reform aiming to help all jobless people under 25 to find employment, although it remains unclear how this can be practically implemented.

The paper examines a number of ground up projects undertaken by Pontydysgu with UK and European funding and aiming both to improve careers guidance, improve the skills and recognition of skills for those in precarious employment and to explore new routes for transitions including entrepreneurial activities.

It is suggested that such bottom up and community based projects offer a new route to developing and sustaining vocational biographies for young people, and provide research and practice based evidence for implementing the Youth Guarantee.