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Wednesday, June 23, 1999 Published at 01:09 GMT 02:09 UK


British youth in the spotlight

The programme will look at young people and social exclusion

The largest research programme into young people's lives yet undertaken in the UK is to be launched by Home Office Minister Paul Boateng.

The £3m three-year Youth, Citizenship and Social Change programme, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESCR), involves 17 different pieces of research, ranging from social exclusion to citizenship.

Mr Boateng said it would "address many of the issues the government is determined to tackle".

"Reducing social exclusion, preventing the marginalisation of young people and developing concepts of citizenship are all areas my department is driving forward.

"I am confident that the ESRC's work will be a very valuable contribution to future policy."

The studies, which have all begun, range from research in Teeside looking at youth, underclass and social exclusion to an investigation into young people's involvement in social action which aims to show how young people can feel more included in society.

The Teeside University study looks at whether there is a permanently excluded underclass.

In Teeside, there are young people who are part of a second generation of people who have never been employed.

Dr Liza Catan, director of the ESRC programme, said the study would look at young people's attitude to life and the labour market.

She said early findings showed that marginalised young people shared the same values as others and were not part of a permanent underclass.

Work and training

Another related, but bigger, study in Newcastle is looking at how young people, including the most disadvantaged, work with local training and enterprise groups.

The research will use young people from marginalised groups to gather information and will look at a holistic approach to marginalisation, examining everything from family life to school history and experience of training.

The citizenship research by the Trust for the Study of Adolescence is studying 16 to 26-year-olds who are involved in social action, including working with the disabled, on human rights issues and in the community.

It aims to see whether young people's attitudes change as a result and what motivated them to get involved in the first place.

Practical material for use in the new school citizenship classes will also be produced.

Other research projects will study housing and education in money managing, young people's values and aspirations and how the family supports young people who are on the verge of independence.

Dr Catan said: "Youth is no longer a short period between childhood and early, independent adulthood.

"There is now an extended, uncertain and difficult transition to adult status for all young people.

"New policies and provision are coming on stream for further and higher education, training, family support and finances.

"The research programme will examine how they are working out, what needs to be done and where young people are moving to in the late 1990s and early 2000s."

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