Preliminary results reveal: young adults need tailored support to building self-confidence

The data analysis phase has officially started with the beginning of the year 2018. We are now keen on coding and identifying successful elements of the good education practices investigated from March 2017 to December 2017. Over these months, 40 cases were accessed in 20 countries across Europe, and more than 800 informants accessed through interviews and focus groups among policy-makers, adult education practitioners and the direct beneficiaries of the education practices, namely young people between 16-30 years old.

What has already emerged?

Despite the preliminary stages of analysis, some interesting common patterns have been already identified, and we are happy to share them:

Firstly, education programmes prove to be effective in better responding to young people’s needs and in enhancing the development of their competencies to practice active participatory citizenship, if they adopt a comprehensive educational approach and address learners in their totality. Despite the variety of groups targeted by the considered programmes and the multitude of specific difficult situations they are experiencing, some common characteristics are traceable among the young interviewees. For instance, they often reported a lack of self-confidence and self-reflection, difficulty in formulating objectives and in pursuing them, or low motivation to be active.  As cause or effect of their current life situation, these peculiarities should be taken into account in the programme’s design to help them overcome the risk to be at the fringe of the society.

Supporting participants in their learning process, offering them tailored services, for instance financial, psychological, and social support, is therefore fundamental. A network of supportive services helps them improve their self-esteem, become more aware of their potentialities and strengths, and cope better with the difficult situations they are facing.

Against this backdrop, most of the analysed cases involved multi-disciplinary professional teams. Beside technical trainers and traditional teachers, other domain experts, such as psychologists, coaches, and career counsellors are working for or are strictly collaborating with the providing organisations.

Moreover, in dealing with young people in disadvantaged situations, practitioners agreed on the need of a soft skill-set. Empathy, listening and communication skills, positive attitude, flexibility, and previous experience in the sector are key competencies that also contribute to a successful programme’s provision that enables young adults to become more active.

Next steps

The data analysis phase will be finalised by the end of September 2018. The results will be used to draw conclusions about favourable field conditions and recommendations about the design of future adult education programmes and related policies.