Young People and Transition Policies in Europe

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European Conference for researchers, policy-makers and practitioners on the experiences of young people with support measures for transitions to work, 6-8 June 2002 in Madrid.

From 6 to 8 June 2002 IRIS together with AREA (Asociácion Regional y Europea de Análisis, Valencia) and in collaboration with the Spanish Youth Institute organised a European conference on “Young People and Transition Policies in Europe”. The conference addressed policy makers, institutional representatives and researchers.

The project started from the observation that existing policies struggle with addressing transition related risks of social exclusion effectively. High shares of dropping out and ‘status zer0’ youth withdrawing from formal transition agencies, and of those who are unemployed after participating in training or employment schemes stand for ‘misleading trajectories’: integration policies reproducing exclusion instead. Although focussing different aspects of youth transitions and transition policies the selected projects shared a holistic perspective aiming at integrating systemic and subjective dimensions of social integration; this means matching with changing labour markets as well as meeting young people’s subjective needs and satisfaction. Under conditions of de-standardised transitions the compartmentalisation of transition related policies – education, training, labour market policies, welfare, youth policy – tends to reinforce structures of selectivity and segmentation contributing to social inequality according to education and social background, gender, and ethnicity. The concept of Integrated Transition Policies, one of the joint concepts referred to, aims at a coordination of policies in a biographical perspective which reflects the specificity of individual cases and allow for the active participation of young people as actors of their transitions.

The discussions during the conference centred around policy dilemmas arising from  the research presentations such as the contradictions between competence and employability or between flexibility and security, questions how to meet the needs of the most disadvantaged without stigmatising them and also how to assess the effects of transition policies which includes the question for success criteria which are more comprehensive than counting participants placed in (some) jobs after a scheme.

All participants confirmed that the conference provided a unique opportunity of dialogue between research and policy taking place in a friendly and collaborative atmosphere. A book publication containing the conference proceedings has been published with the Policy Press (López Blasco, A., McNeish, W. & Walther, A. (eds.) (2003) Contradictions of Inclusion: Young People and Policies for Transitions to Work across Europe. Bristol: Policy Press).

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