Does Europe’s Youth Strategy Show Effects?

Unemployment among European youths has continued to rise since the start of the economic and financial crisis in 2008. Improved levels of education among young Europeans do not automatically lead to better working opportunities. And a widespread loss of confidence towards traditional ways of participation exists.

These are just three points that YouthMetre has identified in a new report analysing the current status of European youth policy and  its effects. We analysed reports, official documents and scientific papers to explore how policies affect young Europeans and how they could become better. We have chosen 20 of the most important points of the research to highlight here. Some are encouraging – others, less.

The 20 Main Outcomes 

1. European programmes and initiatives for youth are succeeding in fostering the attainment of a higher level of education for young Europeans, as well as promoting their positive attitudes towards international mobility and exchanges.

2. Improved levels of education among young Europeans do not automatically lead to better working opportunities.

3. It is a major concern that youth unemployment rates, including long-term unemployment, continue to rise in EU since the start of the economic and financial crisis in 2008.

4. Youngsters find it difficult to deal with their transition from education to the workplace.

5. The main cause for this is the mismatch between the skills that they acquire at school and those demanded by the labour market.

6. There are very negative, sometimes even dramatic outcomes in almost all the eight policy areas identified by the European Commission as “strategic” for youth empowerment.

7. The economic crisis and the subsequent recession have had an extremely negative impact on young people in terms of poverty and social exclusion. Surveys and statistics show that young Europeans often feel “marginalised” or “excluded” from economic and social life.

8. There are feelings of uncertainty towards their employability and consequently towards their future, so youngsters are much less willing to leave their parental home. Their capacity to become independent is reduced, exacerbating even more their social exclusion. The feeling of “being in need” often leads the individual to focus on their self-empowerment rather than being concerned by global issues.

9. Feelings of exclusion bringing more and more youngsters into self and societal-disruptive behaviours, often labelled incorrectly as “radicalization”.

10. Young Europeans are described as being prone to risky and unhealthy behaviour, with their attitudes being influenced by deprivation and social exclusion.

11. In terms of youth participation, youngsters increasingly perceive a deterioration of their living conditions and future perspectives. So they become less confident in society and less engaged in socio-political activities.

12. Our research shows that indicators of voting and engagement in political parties are no longer adequate measures of youth participation, as  young people “participate differently”.

13. There is a widespread loss of confidence towards traditional ways of participation.

14. Tackling youth and long-term unemployment is nowadays considered an absolute priority and a common objective.

15. Finding solutions to this, applicable across the EU, is not easy, as there is much variety in the specific geographic, economic and/or social factors involved.

16. A common plea emerges across all the research: the necessity to directly engage young people in developing and implementing the policies and initiatives targeted towards them.

17.different – more open –  approach needs to be encouraged  in European youth educational policies

18. The adoption of formal and/or non-formal education aimed at developing the “social dimension” of learners must be encouraged, targeting people’s sense of their place in the world.

19. The promotion of youth work is viewed as a possible future solution to youth unemployment.

20. An analysis of good practices and common approaches in youth work encourages the development of new personalized approaches to youth education, via principles of voluntary participation, youth-centeredness and mutual respect.

The report is addressed to policy makers and youth workers. It should provide these groups with background on the present framework of youth policies in Europe and their impacts, which can then be used to orient future choices. You can read the full report here.

Training for influence
During the third international project meeting of YouthMetre, held in Brussels the 8th and 9th December, we discussed the results of the research and other important project achievements, such as the improved version of the YouthMetre e-tool and the completion of the study groups organised across Europe in the previous months.

The main topic addressed in that occasion was the YouthMetre: Train the Trainer, developed on the basis of the research and of the work done with the study Groups. This Training aims to inform youth workers, teachers, educators on the EU Youth Strategy; explore the concept of young people participation in the democratic life; share knowledge on the use of YouthMetre as a tool that provides important information, statistical data, infographics and how to use this information to advance advocacy initiatives towards policy makers.