Young People from Lower-Income Neighbourhoods - Guide to New Approaches to Policies

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The social exclusion of young people living in lower-income neighbourhoods has been a latent problem for decades and one of which both the public at large and politicians have been aware to varying extents whenever it has made itself felt. It is an issue that could easily be brushed to one side were it not for the instances of violence that flare up from time to time, reminding us of the shortcomings of our democratic institutions in combating discrimination. One such example was the urban violence that erupted in October 2005 in France and in other European countries. Acting on its concerns over social polarisation, the Council of Europe has clearly stated its conviction that in order to achieve social cohesion, what is needed is a strategy and not a series of short-term measures focusing on specific groups. This Strategy for Social Cohesion calls on the joint responsibility of the various players (public authorities, the corporate sector, citizens, families and young people themselves). Nevertheless, if young people are to exercise individual responsibility within a community, there has to be a certain level of equality. Consequently, community responsibility needs to be organised more effectively. For example, the difficulties pointed to by the public authorities in making integration-through-employment policies work highlight the fact that in order to be effective, businesses themselves must be sensitive to the problem and share the responsibility for creating the right conditions for recruitment without discrimination. Similarly, education policies must broaden out to cover the relationship between schools and families and between schools and the business sector. This guide is part of that effort. It is intended as a means of moving beyond stereotypes which pass themselves off as gospel truth, thereby making it difficult to seek innovative solutions and new social dialogue practices. It is divided into three parts: 1.) Rethinking policies for young people from lower-income neighbourhoods, in the light of the context of today and the lessons of the past; 2.) Examining existing stereotypes and prejudices in order to find alternative approaches, putting forward a number of indicators to help gain greater insight into the situation of young people from lower-income neighbourhoods in order to devise and implement appropriate support policies; 3.) Indicators and references.

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