Youth Policies towards Inequalities in European Countries
FranceThe situation of young people and (innovative) policy answers
2. How do existing policies address these challenges?
Following the Schwartz’s report, one stop shop for integrated policies was advocated as the best way to carry on comprehensive and institutional proximity with young people. Local missions for youth (Missions locales) were the technical answer. These structures – bringing together the state and local communities – are in charge of welcoming, guiding and prescribing youngsters an entry into vocational training or in one of the public employment service’s programs. Their support is also designed to take into account the globality of the issues hindering their social and professional integration, including housing and health.
But beyond creating these associations youth remains a largely segmented policy. In France, youth policy is not restricted to a single ministry; it involves several public action fields. The answer in terms of a comprehensive approach is built on the transversal mode and not integration. For over 30 years, interministeriality is the political expression of the youth’s policy. An inter-ministerial committee "to review issues affecting the youth" was created in 1982. Involving 20 ministries and three Secretaries of State, its purpose is to "provide the government all to improve the living conditions of young measures". In January 2013, during the first committee under his mandate, the president François Hollande "recalled his wish" for an action plan for youth and a transversal policy”. Hence, the Youth interministerial committee is experiencing a new impetus. It coordinates the work and direction of the Youth plan. This new policy proposes to overhaul public action for young people based on four cornerstones:
- Focus on common law for all matters concerning young people's access to social rights, to end stacking derogatory and unreadable devices;
- Empower young people and securing their career as a whole (training, housing, health, mobility, etc.)
- Fight against inequality and discrimination;
- Encourage youth participation in public debate and make effective the coconstruction of public policy.
3. How to increase capability-friendly policies in France?
Several orientations appear possible to develop capability friendly policies in an institutional landscape characterized by a remaining strong centralization of the political power, a fragmentation of youth, educational and social policies and a great multiplicity of stakeholders:
Develop information on youth’s rights:
- First, it seems important to improve information of young people about their
existing rights. A better understanding of their common and specific rights constitutes a key element of their ability to take them up and thus express their voice (for voice capability).
Enhance the access to existing rights and services
- Second, the eligibility to social rights should be transformed by exiting from a familialist model where social rights are channeled through families. Social benefits should be granted to youngsters on an individual basis and not mediated through their environment.
- Third and related to the preceding, it appears also important to escape from social policies grounded on statutory conditions. The aim here is to attach the access to welfare benefits to the estimation of the individual’s situation and needs rather than in terms of his/her belonging to an administrative category (students or not, employed or not, parents or not, still living at home or not, tax related to the tax return of their parents or not followed by local mission for youth or by the national employment agency, etc.).
- Local support networks for vulnerable youth should be reframed through:
a. Improving mutual knowledge of each other (stakeholders) and check the consistency of aims and expectations.
b. Ensuring that the workload weighing on case managers allow an adequate time to work with its partners.
c. Building policy transfer mechanisms so that difficulties encountered in bottom-up program’s implementation are assessed at a policymaking level. Moreover, this assessment should be conducted with the participation of implementers and beneficiaries and should be conducted to improve local innovation.
d. Systematically asking the beneficiaries in order to assess and revise the support programs eventually to develop new ones if necessary with regards to the diversity of individual’s difficulties and values. Especially this assessment should question the quality of networking and the experience they have from the service delivered.
e. Building and sharing a common regulatory framework between the different sectors and stakeholders involved in the upstream and downstream of the dropout treatment (prevention - remediation).
f. Involving youngsters and social partners in the design of ESL policies.
g. Requiring as a pre-condition for the sustainability of local initiatives and experimentations their assessment on the basis of implementers and users’ evaluation.
Ensure youth’s political representation
- Promote youth’s political representation through effective participation to political arenas and real decisional power given in the matter of youth’s policies design and implementation (deliberative voice).
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