The texts below summarise challenges identified by experts, youth workers and young people themselves in the discussions of various activities held by the Youth Department.
Exclusion, discrimination and inequalities of young people
Edited in April 2019 by Stefan Manevski.
based on the reports from the Council of Europe’s Tranzit project on young people’s transition to autonomy
Amartya Sen defined social exclusion as a “a complex and multi-dimensional process. It involves the lack or denial of resources, rights, goods and services, and the inability to participate in the normal relationships and activities, available to the majority of people in society, whether in economic, social, cultural, or political arenas. It affects both the quality of life of individuals and the equity and cohesion of society as a whole.”
Social exclusion manifests itself through a series of interlinked problems, and it is an accumulation of challenges: a dynamic process over time that carries a risk of producing scarring effects on generations. For those who found themselves to groups already excluded from society before the crisis, the process has doubled in hardships to overcome be it that they were excluded/discriminated regardless on the grounds on which they were excluded.
For young people, social inclusion can be understood as a process of realising one’s potential within society and recognition by the society of that potential and contribution. For young people who come from disadvantaged backgrounds, the process also involves tackling and dealing with specific and additional barriers so that they can fulfil their full potential.
In several activities of the Youth Department, we have asked the young people taking part to map out the challenges and support systems they make use of in their transition processes. While young people’s active participation in their transition is a pre-requisite for successful policies, it is important to deal with the tension between flexibility (allowing young people to make choices in respect to their transition process) and security (ensuring a context in which choices are possible for young people and where measures exist to support them in respect to uncertain outcomes and failure). Here is a summary of the key challenges and issues young people have identified in this work:
Education – While progress has been reached to diminish early leave from education, some young people suggests that the lower rate means young people are choosing to stay at school given the lack of jobs and employment prospects. High early school-leaving rates tend to mean that young people lack skills and qualifications, which may result in a higher risk of unemployment and consequently poverty and social exclusion.
Housing - The age at which young people leave parental home has remained stable during the period of the financial crisis and afterwards, with an average for the European Union of 26.3 for male and 23.8 for women, but the average hides away disparities as high as departure well in their 30s for Greece, Italy, Malta and high housing deprivation rates.
Health - Young people who are not in employment, education or training give a comparatively low rating for their subjective well-being. Young people in Europe reported an unmet need for medical examination for reasons of barriers to access to health, this need being higher among those from the lowest income groups. Some of the key causes for lack of access to healthcare are: waiting time for an appointment, finding time due to work or care responsibilities, distance to the doctor or hospital, the financial costs.
Mismatch of skills between education and the labour market - A great deal of emphasis has been placed on the so called mismatch of skills between education offer and labour market demand. A research among employers done by McKinsey (2014) shows that even tertiary degrees are not to guarantee employment if the specialisation does not correspond with market needs, and education has not ensured important soft skills and work ethic. The study also reveals that employers are more reluctant to invest in the training of young labour market entrants, and as a result in developed economies young workers are taking up more work for which they are overqualified. Long-term exclusion from participation on the labour market results also in long term effects on young people’s life prospects both in respect to long-term employment and future earnings.
Participation - The lack of opportunities and accessibility of the political or social participation mechanisms through civil and political organisations is still a strong obstacle. Studies also show a decreased trust in the system and increased levels of disengagement in traditional forms of participation for young people.
Enter! LTTC local projects – more than a practice
EDITED in 2018 by Natalja Gudakovska, trainer.
The third edition of the Enter! Long-Term Training Course (LTTC) for youth workers was at the core of Enter! in 2017-2018
The course was set up as a complementary training for 30 youth workers to implement the Enter! Recommendation through projects in partnership with local authorities within a European and intercultural context provided by the European Youth Centres.
During the course each participant developed a local youth work project based on active participation of young people and addressing specific challenges that young people face in their access to social rights. The project strived to be an example in implementing the Enter! Recommendation.
The projects provided a practical basis for learning about promoting the social rights of young people and how best to link specific policies with youth work. Many were implemented in co-operation with local authorities so as better impact at the local community level. They were seen to provide a practical basis for learning about promoting the social rights of young people and how best to link specific policies with youth work, as well as to be implemented in co-operation with local authorities to have better impact at the local community level.The achievements reached by the projects can be grouped in three categories:
- Impact on young people and their access to rights
- Impact at policy level
- Impact at partnership and cooperation with different stakeholders.
Impact on young people and their access to rights
Projects helped to develop knowledge of young people, improved their access to education, employment and employability, access to mobility and contributed to the improvement of living conditions of young people from disadvantaged neighbourhood. Number of projects focused on developing awareness of young people about their social rights in general. Majority has tackled one or few rights in particular.
For example, in Germany the project provided opportunity for young refugee women to obtain German language skills, CV writing and generic skills to help them to better integrate into mainstream society, get out of the closed community and become more employable. Courses on code writing and software designing, job shadowing and paid internships in Turkey led to newly graduates having jobs. Carrier week and courses on writing CV, motivation letter, effective communication and job interview in Albania helped to prepare for the first work experience and feel ready to enter the job market.
“We tried to strengthen economic independence of young women, and as a result they have grounds to start earning their own money. Some of them have already started “, participant from Armenia writes in the report.
In Hungary project focused on the improvement of accessing education, training and employment, with the reintegration of early school leavers into education system by supporting them to reach qualification, providing personal mentoring, guidance, group sessions, and consultations. This opened more potential of labour market chances for youngsters, increased their employability and the possibility for employment.
Macedonian project focused on improving access to education through providing non-formal education and mobility opportunities for rural youth, particularly girls from traditional families who do not have access to information and mobility – transportation chances. So far, first activities started, and girls are in their process of personal growth and getting ready to address their needs to decision makers at some later stage.
Social projects and different mobilities (like Erasmus+) were mentioned as an opportunity what young people in Spain, Portugal and France discovered for education as well as becoming more engaged in social life. In at least one third of project increased knowledge of young people about their social rights is mentioned as an achievement.
Projects in Malta and Georgia set a basis for social housing opportunities for young people. In Malta accommodation services to three young homeless people were offered for a temporary period with the aim to help them become totally independent. In Georgia, now young people can apply for social housing through adopted municipal programs regarding social housing for young people who leave the state care system after they turn 18. Projects provided also conditions for active participation of young people, the opportunities to be heard by the local authorities and boosted sense of responsibility for the local community. For many young people taking part in the project was a first time when their opinion was respected, and their needs were heard. Project experience let them get out from the situation and conditions where they are every day, be listened to and supported, get chance to influence change.
In Ukraine, young people from rural village in cooperation and support of the village head established a youth room which operates now as place for gathering, education and running activities proposed and let by young people.
In Romania “Accessibility Foul” awareness campaign on Facebook, reached more than 150 people who clicked Like and learned about the accessibility in Constanta city, information about the standards in Romanian laws on accessibility of environment. This information raised curiosity of young people on the situation in the city.
Participation in Enter! projects improved self-esteem of young people, raised motivation to step over concerns regarding their future and increased their participation to trainings and educational programmes. In Turkey project created new opportunities for young people, including internships, jobs, scholarships. The project addressing social right education and youth unemployment issue in Vardashen district of Yerevan, Armenia, provided young women with social rights education vocational trainings, necessary tools and utilities, confidence to start working as freelancers. It aimed at strengthening economic independence of those young women who have faced different kinds of social injustice, violence, discrimination, etc...
Impact at policy level
One of the criteria of projects developed within Enter! LTTC was to be based on Enter! Recommendation and would have an impact at local policy development. The Recommendation that was initiated in the first edition of the Enter! LTTC and further adopted during the second edition, now in the third Enter! LTTC was supposed to be an instrument that helps participants to reach local and regional authorities and influence policies concerned the access to social rights for young people. All the participants had intention to reach this level, however, many of them did face challenges, i.e. either at the level of cooperation with local and regional authorities or being not ready to step in a dialogue for policy change. However, there are few successful examples of good practices that honourably can be considered as good examples of Implementation of Enter! Recommendation.
Georgia in this regards is a show case in achievements, i.e. the project contributed to the adoption of policy measures regarding social housing in municipal programme. After Enter! Recommendation was translated into Georgian and “recognised” by the Ministry responsibly for youth issues, the credibility was high and they formed a working group that discussed the implementation of Recommendation at local level and it’s integration into the youth strategy of the municipality. The group mapped already existing services, measures, approaches of the municipality and identified the gaps to be filled by the measures suggested by Recommendation. Before that, municipality included young people who leave the state care system as a beneficiaries of the social housing service that was recently developed. This happened after the municipality was introduced to the Recommendation.
Another example to mention here is Hungary where, because of the project, the programme based on networking and cooperation between different stakeholders was developed within the municipality aiming to provide support system for young people who are in risk or already fall into the group of early school drop-outs. The project helped to officially build sustainable and long-term cooperation between different services (social, employment, educational etc.) with a legal intention to change the situation.
Impact at partnership and cooperation with different stakeholders
Some projects had very ambitious initial aims towards cooperation with local and regional authorities, however, it will be possible to measure the results only when the project will be finished. The main achievements highlighted by participants in the report are:
- improved contact between local authorities and young people, better relationship and improved communication due to personal contact established with decision makers during the project
- local and regional authorities got an opportunity to improve their competences in the field of access of young people to social rights by means of meetings, training courses organised and proposed by participants during the project (Moldova, Georgia etc.)
- credibility of young people increased and dialogue between young people and decision makers improved (e.g. North Macedonia, Spain, Russian Federation etc.)
- the cooperation with different municipality related institutions developed (e.g. in Armenia – with the Commissions of Trusteeship and Custodianship of municipality of Lori region)
- the local authorities are aware about Recommendation (e.g. Armenia, North Macedonia, Spain, Russia, Moldova etc.) after it was introduced and explained by participants of Enter! LTTC.
- authorities valued projects as a good practice example, published report, organization has a promises to get support for multiplication of results (e.g. in Turkey)
- the cooperation was developed through granting support both at local or regional level (e.g. Enter project received stable Republican funding in Russian Federation, project on social inclusion is being implemented in Kosovo* with the funding from municipality etc)
- representatives of local NGOs who deal with people with disabilities and/or have staff that face challenges addressed and expressed their point of view in front of representatives from City Hall, City Council and Prefecture in matters of Accessibility (e.g. Romania).
Some projects are tended to have multiple cooperation to achieve goals. In Hungary the problem of early school leavers was address in a cross-sectoral cooperation manner. There was network established with involvement of actors from different sectors who agreed to cooperate in a long-term perspective. As a result of discussions and meetings, everyone is dedicated to cooperate and improve the access to social right by combining the potential all actors involved.
Some participants mentioned partnership developed within mobility programmes. There is a group of participants who developed Erasmus+ project synergising similar interests and goal in helping young people exercise their social rights. Strategic partnership was developed to look at different models of mentoring and to develop a new mentoring programme which is targeting a group of young people with fewer opportunities. Some projects focused on carrier guidance and involved students from universities or other educational institutions. This both required and developed intense cooperation with educational sector representatives as well.
Outcomes of Enter! projects
The reports of participants clearly show that majority of projects had a strong informative and/or educational element on social rights in general or one/several rights. Many informative and educational events were organised within projects. As result higher awareness level and better knowledge of young people and local authorities on human rights, social rights and access to social rights, Enter! Recommendation, the European Charter on social rights, and The European Convention on Human Rights is mentioned as an outcome along with knowledge about the Council of Europe, the opportunities provided by the Youth Department and support available for stakeholder at all levels.
In some reports it is mentioned that regular meetings between partners helped to build the dialogue between young people and local authorities, and in this relationship young people are trusted and have some credit to talk about their needs, propose solutions and are considered as attention worthy actors. Better awareness of the local and regional authorities about the needs of young people with disadvantaged background is also highlighted as an important outcome. In few cases projects ended up with some structural, policy or system solutions to improve the situation of young, e.g. development of youth related social policy, establishment of strong cross-sectoral network between institutions and organisations providing social, educational, legal, social housing and other services for young people. In general dialogue and cooperation with local and regional authorities is mentioned as an important outcome.
Partnership with NGOs, schools and volunteer organisations is mentioned as an outcome in several projects. This helped to either provide local level activities for young people or offer international mobility experience. Consultative body was established and cross-sectoral cooperation network were built as a result in some projects. More than in one project participation of young people in international individual or group mobility projects within Erasmus + programme was mentioned as an outcome. Strong partnership between participants’ organisations, and project applications for Erasmus+ programme developed and submitted for financing. Improved knowledge of youth workers and municipality representatives on mobility programme mentioned few times.
Some projects focused on developing professional and soft skills, and tended to increase employability of young people. Number of young people developed their skills in hairdressing, nail-polishing, improved language skills, learned how to write CV and prepare for interview, start their own small business or started to work as free-lancer, started coaching or received support in carrier guidance. Among outcomes participants also mention experience in non-formal education and developed competences of participants in peer-support, intercultural issues, campaigning, advocating, decision making process, leadership, youth participation, debating, design thinking and animation skills.
Few projects contributed to the improvement of the infrastructure of spaces for youth activities and made a city/village more accessible for young people, i.e. young people created a new space for activities with the support of local authority in Ukrainian village, in Germany young women with migrant background got access to appropriate learning conditions – properly equipped class room.
Number of reports highlighted additional funding attracted for activities in the organisation as an outcome. This allowed organisations to diversify activities and implement their project within Enter. The attracted funding for some organisations promises to have a sustainable nature and their activities will be financed also after the end of Enter! project.
The methodological support of the Council of Europe was highlighted. As a results of the projects organisations explored and started to use different educational materials, such as Compass - Manual for Human Rights Education with Young People, "Taking It Seriously" Guide to Recommendation CM/Rec(2015)3 of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe to member States on the access of young people from disadvantaged neighbourhoods to social rights, Mirrors and other publications.
Some other important outcomes mentioned in the reports included but are not limited to improved and strengthened cooperation in the project and project team, developed informational materials used in work with young people, higher interest of local community in the activities of organisation, attention to different youth groups from disadvantaged background.
*All references to Kosovo, whether the territory, institutions or population, in this text shall be understood in full compliance with United Nation's Security Council Resolution 1244 and without prejudice to the status of Kosovo.