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  • Writer's pictureLa Xixa

The situation of young people in Europe

The 2018 European Commission report on the “Situation of young people in the European Union” throws relevant data that attest to the relevance of the 1000Layers project in the current Youth context.*

According to the report, international migration has increased the diversity of the Youth population in Europe. In the EU in 2014 “young people between 15 and 29 years of age born in an EU Member State with at least one parent from a country outside the EU were about 2.5 million.” Additionally, the proportion of young people born outside the EU is significant for many EU countries. As we can see in the chart (Figure 1-G), in 2016, for Spain, Cyprus, France and Netherlands, the percentage of young people not born in the EU is 13%, 12%, 8%, and 8% respectively.

Taking into account that, for that same year, young people (aged 15-29) account for approximately 15%, 23%, 18% and 19% in Spain, Cyprus, France and Netherlands as shown in the chart (Figure 1-D), the percentage of Youth pertaining to a minority group is quite significant.

The report identified two groups of young people who were particularly vulnerable to poverty and social exclusion in relation to others: “young people who are neither in education and training nor in employment (NEETs) and young people from a migrant background.” In the case of migrants and ethnic minorities, these young people “usually face multiple disadvantages leading to persistent poverty and a marginalised position in society.”

According to the report, and as shown in the chart (Figure 7-O), in 2016:

“The at-risk-of-poverty or social exclusion rate of young people born outside the European Union was above 60 % in Greece (64 %), the Netherlands (62.6 %) and Belgium (60.7 %); and above 55 % in Spain (58.1 %), Sweden (56.4 %) and Cyprus (55.9 %). This means that in these countries, the majority of young people from an immigrant background face the risk of poverty or social exclusion…Most poverty indicators also show higher proportions of women at risk…The at-risk-of-poverty rates for second generation immigrants – the children of foreign-born parents (EU and non-EU) still show a strong disparity with those of the native-born population, but the figures are less extreme… the children of foreign-born parents are almost twice as likely to be at risk of poverty as the children of native-born parents in the EU-28 (31.5 % vs. 18.4 %).”

These numbers are alarming, taking into account the influence that social exclusion, discrimination and poverty can have over the conformation of identity during adolescence and early Youth. According to the 2018 European Commission Report “Youth Work Against Violent Radicalisation: Theory, Concepts and Primary Prevention in Practice”:

“Violent radicalisation may occur as young people are influenced by ethnocentric or other ideologies and societal influences, or if they face social exclusion and marginalisation for various reasons, including, but not limited to, broader political context in their countries and the world, poverty, unemployment and underemployment, disability, lack of education, racism, discrimination due to ethnicity, origin, religion, sexual orientation etc., and their resulting questioning of their social, national and ethnic identity, and feelings of injustice and frustration due to limited opportunities… Youth work is particularly important in this regard as one of the instruments against radicalisation leading to violence, as young people are susceptible to various influences during the critical stage of adolescence, and if they perceive themselves as victims of discrimination, social exclusion or marginalisation, they are more at risk of recruitment from radical ideologies.”

The “Situation of young people in the European Union” report also highlights that the “effects of young people’s participation in Youth work activities show that young people can acquire and reinforce personal skills such as conflict resolution, decision making, goal setting and interpersonal communication that can prove useful in all spheres of life.”

As shown in the chart (Figure 2-I), in Cyprus, Spain, France and the Netherlands 18%, 15%, nearly 25%, and nearly 7% of young people participate in non-formal learning and training.

The 1000Layers project wishes to reach Youth, who are facing difficulties due to one or more aspects of their identity, through non-formal training of Youth workers and young people themselves. The high number of Youth from diverse backgrounds who are at risk (but not only these young people, for example, those pertaining to LGTBQ+ minorities as well, among other diversities) together with a fertile ground for Youth participation in non-formal training, indicates the 1000Layers project is susceptible of having relevant impact in the field.

*All charts for this blog entry have been extracted from the 2018 European Commission report on the “Situation of young people in the European Union”. We have consulted various EU reports to determine the need for the 1000Layers project within EU framework: European Commission -Directorate-General for Justice and Consumers, 2019; European Commission - Directorate-General for Justice and Consumers, 2015; European Commission - Youth, 2018a, 2018b; European Commission and the Council of Europe in the field of Youth, 2018; Ministers, 1997; SALTO Cultural Diversity Resource Centre, 2017; SALTO Youth Cultural Diversity Resource Centre, 2016; European Commission -Directorate-General for Justice and Consumers, 2019.

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