human development, social justice and sustainable social systems

Young people have a future!

Caritas Portuguesa presented yesterday in Lisbon the study “Young people in Europe need a future” on the situation of youth poverty in the country.

In the study, Caritas Portugal depicts the day-to-day struggles that are stopping young people from emancipating and becoming self-sufficient. The study also includes recommendations deemed necessary to break the cycle of poverty that is conditioning the future of young people in Portugal. This cycle is not only a Portuguese matter but is appearing in many other countries in the continent, as reflected in the similar study that Caritas Czech Republic presented on 13 February 2018.

Young people are stopped from taking a full step towards adulthood because of the dire labour market conditions that they are facing. Low wages, short-term contracts, no stability, no guarantees… these conditions are even harder for young people coming from deprived family conditions and who have inadequate education or of poor skill-levels.

At least in Portugal, these factors are determinants in the life of Portuguese young people. Caritas also points out the the banalisation of situations of irregular contracts and the lack of coordination between public employment services, schools and universities regarding training, job opportunities, vocational learning and vocational guidance.

I left school at the age of 16 and started working in a cafe, at the counter, after that I also worked in this branch because I didn’t finish school, I’m put aside because of that. I’m limited to this branch because the others ask for more schooling! I miss school a lot and if I could go back I would not have done things in the same way.

Cátia Santos, a 28 year old mother who receives support from Caritas Leiria-Fatima to buy school materials for her children

Caritas recommendations

  • Promote decent wage levels, including measures to create jobs and extend social protection in the event of unemployment;
  • Prevent job insecurity, irregularities and tax evasion in employment contracts by controlling employers’ abuse of the status of self-employed workers (so-called “green receipts”);
  • Provide equal opportunities in access to education and ensure conditions that help students continue their education, especially for young people from households at risk of poverty and social exclusion;
  • Facilitate affordable housing for young people according to their income and provide them with the opportunity to start independent living;
  • Develop a national strategy to promote the civic participation of young people.

Eugénio Fonseca, President of Cáritas Portuguesa, stresses the urgency of the situation:

It is urgent to look at young people from what they represent today for Portuguese society and reminds us that this report is no more than the auscultation of the reality that was made in Portugal, the diocesan Caritas and other institutions that have joined us, that is, it is necessary that everyone, rulers and politicians be aware of what is the everyday life of the Portuguese.

This is a situation that is repeated at European level, stresses Jorge Nuño Mayer, Secretary General of Caritas Europa, who brought to Lisbon the European context of this report and recalled the imperative of all, rulers, political actors, civil society organisations and Church, to come together to listen to the young, to look at their reality and to promote change. Caritas Europa will present a Europe-wide report on youth poverty on 28 of March 2018.