Denmark faces large and growing problems integrating youth into education and gainful employment. The proportion of younger disability pensioners is increasing and, in some parts of the country, more than one third of those not enrolled in secondary education rely on social benefits related to ill health and unemployment. The concept of a generation for whom working life is over before it begins is also recognized in other north European countries. In order for policy-makers to make informed and evidence-based decisions, a multi-centre research initiative (referred to as FOCA) has been set up to explore the successful integration of youth into education and employment. This plenary discusses the current and planned studies being undertaken through FOCA, as well as the data currently available and the possibilities for future collaboration.