Risk of marginalisation remains high for many young adults
The number of socially marginalised young adults has not declined in Finland in spite of years of effort. More than 48,000 Finns aged 18 to 29 have fallen outside the systems and services provided by society. This number has not changed for several years.
About 15,000 young people who have finished comprehensive school have neither jobs nor places to study.
“Finnish society does not seem to have good ways to get those who have fallen to the wayside back to school or into work”, says researcher Pekka Myrskylä of Statistics Finland.
A quarter of marginalised young people have a common denominator: they have been in foster care at some time in their lives.
Currently 2.5 per cent of young people aged 16-17 are taken into foster care away from their parents.
In an extensive study, Myrskylä shows how falling to the margins of society is often preceded by difficult conditions: a childhood home is either nonexistent, or it has been broken.
Many marginalised young people have had parents who are unemployed, or fallen beyond the reach of social services, and who have neglected their children.
The parents of marginalised children usually have a weak educational background. A fifth of parents of young people in foster care have criminal records.
In the worst cases, foster care does not go beyond keeping a young person in storage. A small proportion of those who have been taken into care end up going to upper secondary school.
“The integration of foreigners is especially difficult. Their risk of becoming outsiders is many times greater than with native Finns”, Myrskylä says.
If a young person has even one parent in the home, the risk of becoming a complete outsider falls to a fraction that it would if no parents are involved.
According to Myrskylä’s definition, outsiders are people who do not have jobs, who are not registered as unemployed, who do not study anything, who do not get a pension, and who are not in military service.
The status applies to men more frequently than to women.
Youth unemployment is a key contributor to marginalisation. The number of young people on disability pension is also growing.
“There is a danger that these young people will be completely marginalised. When economic, social, and cultural ties fall away by degrees, young people will fall outside ordinary circles of life – those of study, work, and earning a living. Social contacts also start disappearing”, the researcher says.
Depression and intoxicants often enter the picture.
After comprehensive school further in upper secondary school or vocational training, or work, can keep a young person from falling to the margins.
Even make-work projects, such as traineeships with the help of labour market support, have helped prevent many from falling by the wayside.
Those whose education is limited to comprehensive school are nearly three times more likely to become “outsiders” than those who continue their education into senior highs school or vocational school.