We are delighted to report that starting work on the second project result we have finalised the PR2 focus groups in Spain. After the completion of PR1, where PEARL partners conducted focus groups with young third-country nationals, this second part of the research focused on youth workers. The aim of was to gain insights into what would help youth workers to facilitate civic and democratic participation among young people attending their services, particularly those with non-EU nationalities, who face restrictions in democratic participation, such as in the right to vote.
After conducting these focus groups, we can report two key conclusions for the Spanish case. Firstly, the research revealed that youth workers encountered third-country nationals under 30 that engage who were largely unaware of their rights and the various opportunities available to them to participate in civic and democratic processes. Many of the participants were unfamiliar with the political structures and processes of their host countries, and few had engaged in any community or political activities. This lack of awareness and participation also reflected the wider sense of disaffection and disillusionment among this demographic that was highlighted on the focus groups with young people.
The second key conclusion was that material conditions and structural inequalities challenge the ability of young third-country nationals to participate in civic and democratic processes. Many of the participants spoke about the economic and social difficulties the users of their services faced, including language barriers, limited access to education and training, and precarious living and working conditions. These material challenges not only impact the practical ability of individuals to participate in civic and democratic processes but also affect their confidence and motivation to engage in such activities.
The findings of the focus groups with youth workers will enable PEARL partners to contribute to the creation of a Toolbox for the implementation of the PEARL Online training course and proposing further actions to address the challenges and support the engagement of young third-country nationals in civic and democratic processes. This could include providing more accessible information on rights and opportunities for participation, language classes, and tailored support for those facing economic and social challenges. It is also important to recognize the structural inequalities that contribute to the marginalization of this group, so the Toolbox will also propose actions for youth workers to support wider social and economic policy changes from the scope of their position.
Overall, the research highlights the importance of addressing the challenges that limit the participation of young third-country nationals. With targeted support and a commitment to addressing structural inequalities, it is possible to ensure that this group has a voice in shaping the societies in which they live and contribute to building more inclusive and democratic communities.