Youth policy in Europe not delivering for young people

The European Youth Forum has today published an in-depth report, based on analysis from youth organisations all over Europe, which sheds bleak light on the state of youth policy in Europe. Youth policy is not yet fulfilling its potential to address the huge issues that young people face, such as unemployment and social marginalisation.

The report, which includes the findings of 38 National Youth Councils and International Non Governmental Youth Organisations, illustrates that whilst youth policy has been a key tool to improve the lives of Europe’s young people in the past, young people still remain the group at greatest risk of poverty and social exclusion. Youth policy must address such key issues in order to ensure that young people are not marginalised and that their untapped potential is realised.

The Youth Forum’s report reacts to and complements the EU Youth Report 2015, presented by the European Commission, which will be adopted as a Joint Report by Council of the EU on the 23 November. Unfortunately it did not thoroughly consult[1] with young people; the Youth Forum’s report aims to ensure that the voice of youth is heard about the policies that impact them.

Today’s report finds that the EU Work Plan on Youth has not brought about better coordination or made youth a priority of Europe 2020. And, because of lack of targets and benchmarking, it is very difficult to know what difference it has actually made.

The shadow report also examines in detail youth policy at the national level and the involvement of youth organisations in its implementation and finds that:

  • 40% of National Youth Councils rate the quality of internships in their country as low. Good quality internships and entrepreneurship education are seen as key ways to support young people’s transition from education to employment.
  • Further work must be done to successfully implement the Youth Guarantee in all Member States.
  • Non-formal education is still mostly ignored by formal education providers, such as schools and universities. As well as free access to formal education for all, there should be more interaction between the formal and non-formal sectors.
  • Youth policy should avoid targeting certain groups, as this risks stigmatising them and excluding others.
  • Youth organisations bridge the gap between politics and reality and have a positive influence on young people, for example 92% of National Youth Councils help young people to develop skills that are useful for employers.
  • However, youth organisations are not sufficiently and systematically involved in youth policy-making, with almost three-quarters of youth organisations (72%) not feeling valued by public authorities.

 Luis Alvarado Martinez, Vice President of the European Youth Forum, comments:

“Young people are growing up in an ever-changing society. They need to be given the resources to prosper and to release their potential. Beyond ensuring basic rights, such as education and good quality employment, youth policy must adapt to the changing environment, including migration and an ageing society.

“Youth policy has great potential to improve the lives of young people, but only when it coordinates well with other policy areas and young people and youth organsiations are integrally involved in such policy making.”

The full report can be found here. The European Commission’s Youth Report is available here.

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