EU PROTECTS > Our Society > Making the transition: How the EU is helping workers learn skills for a changing economy

"When I lost my job of 17 years, I didn’t know how I’d find another one."

Ourania Koutrouvi

Globalisation affects our lives more and more. A globalised economy may bring better technologies, more services and goods at lower prices, but these benefits should not be at the expense of jobs in Europe. In 2015, Estonia’s chemical and oil industries were hit hard by global competition. This triggered widespread redundancies, particularly in the Ida-Virumaa region. For similar reasons, hundreds of grocery workers in Greece’s Thessaly region were left without jobs when a regional supermarket went bankrupt.

Since 2007, the EU has been helping European workers who have lost jobs as a result of globalisation. In 2016, Estonia and Greece received EU funding to run professional training programmes for thousands of redundant workers. Discover the people who helped them develop professional skills, find new jobs and regain control of their futures.

Making the transition: How the EU is helping workers learn skills for a changing economy

Globalisation brings many opportunities. Yet it can also lead to wage cuts and job losses. This is why the EU is working with European countries to help workers learn new skills and find employment in a changing world.

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Bistra Valchanova

Bulgarian, European Globalisation Adjustment Fund, European Commission


“A more globalised economy has brought benefits, but this should not cost Europeans their jobs.” 

“My team reviews funding applications from countries all over the European Union. We look at the country’s employment needs and opportunities, taking note of sectors hit hard by redundancies. Countries might apply for EU funding to provide training and advice for workers who’ve lost their jobs due to global competition or financial and economic crisis. We’re here, together with the European countries, to support these workers in their transition to new jobs.”

“It’s people who matter, and the EU helps create job opportunities for them.”

 - Bistra Valchanova

Annika Sepp

Employment department, Ministry of Social Affairs


“In 2016, we requested EU funds to fight high levels of unemployment in the Ida-Virumaa region, particularly sectors hurt by global competition.”

“With EU funding, we introduced a programme that hadn’t existed before in Estonia. From 2016 to 2018, we helped supported 124 people who used to work in the energy, oil and chemical sectors to continuein their vocational or higher education studies. They could choose from over 600 courseshad the opportunity to update their qualifications or developlearn the skills for a new profession in mathematics, physics, English, IT and more. We wanted to help them become more competitive on the regional job market. Now we’re applying our experience in Ida-Virumaa to similar training projects all over Estonia.”

“Thanks to EU funding, we’ve found new ways to reduce national unemployment.”

 - Annika Sepp

Marina Platanaki

Employment & Social Economy department, Ministry of Labour


“I supervise the distribution of funds Greece receives from the EU to help tackle the negative effects of globalisation and economic crisis. I talk with other public services and organisations in Greece as well as representatives of workers made redundant in specific sectors. It’s important to get funding for projects that directly help communities suffering the most from job losses.” 

“I also meet regularly with regional employment services and labour representatives to make sure EU funding is being used fairly and appropriately.”

“In the EU, we’re protected by a safety net that helps meet local and regional employment needs.”

 - Marina Platanaki

Paspalas Ioannis

National Institute of Labour & Human Resources


“With EU funds, our goal was to get 557 unemployed workers back on the labour market. Up until 2015, all of these workers had been working at the Larissa Supermarket, a cooperative of grocery stores in the Thessaly region and a local name since 1986. They were let go after the cooperative declared bankruptcy.”

“From July 2017 to February 2018, former Larissa employees took part in training courses, led by eight regional employment services, several learning institutes and a team of certified personal coaches. Coaches gave participants advice on applying for jobs, interview techniques, or even how to launch their own shop or business.”

“Our project ended 6 months ago. Nearly half of all participants have already found new jobs, and 13 of them have set up their own businesses.”

 - Paspalas Ioannis

Ourania Koutrouvi

Prefecture of Larissa in Thessaly


“I worked for the Larissa Supermarket for 17 years as a sales and inventory clerk. After I was let go, I started a vocational training programme with other former co-workers in July 2017. At the beginning, we had to prepare an individual plan with our career goals and type of course to take. Today I’m working for the prefecture in a completely different sector than before: fire prevention and protection of national ecosystems.”



“My new skills have empowered me to start a new career.”

 - Ourania Koutrouvi

Did you know?

Solidarity in a crisis

The European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) supports workers made redundant due to economic changes out of their control. By helping the workers find employment, the Fund also helps European regions dealing with high redundancy rates and other negative effects of globalisation. However, the EGF strictly supports redundant workers. It is not designed to keep companies in business or make them more competitive on a global market.


The number of workers who, after losing their jobs unexpectedly, have been helped by EU funding since 2007. The globalisation fund also helps 4,100 young people (aged 15-29) into employment, education or training.

56, 000 jobs in SMEs and micro-enterprises

Even if layoffs in smaller enterprises have less media coverage, these workers are equally important. Since 2007, the EGF has been mobilised 78 times in support of former workers from SMEs and micro-businesses. To benefit from the Fund, SMEs must operate in the same sector and be located in the same region or 2 contiguous regions.


The percentage of costs covered by the EU through the EGF. These funds go to helping EU countries launch employment projects with a duration of 2 years.


The number of times the funds were mobilised following requests from different EU countries since 2007. The number of projects and sectors involved differs from country to country.


Some of them may even come from your country.

Connected by the EU, there is a network of local heroes working together to help overcome social issues such as poverty, harmful business practices, redundancies and more. From social workers to fire officers, trade experts to police detectives, discover how the EU supports local heroes in your country.