Although we have got some good programmes, offers and opportunities for youngsters in Austria, we still have to improve, especially the political representation of young people, both in the national and international contexts. There is also a big gap between the situation in cities, suh as Vienna, and the countryside, where there is still room for improving the offers given to young people such as youth centres.
I guess this information should best be taken from the European Commission’s White Paper. I would say that our youth is not quite different from youth in other Western European countries. Most of our young people are big followers of the idea of European integration. People enjoy their personal freedom, but are very open to social and civic concerns. The approach to social concerns is rather a pragmatic one, as young people do not like to get affiliated with institutions and organisations anymore, unlike in the past. A good job and welfare are also important to young people, as well as travelling. It is important to differentiate between urban youth and rural youth, since access to education, culture and job opportunities is sometimes limited. Traditionally, rural youth tend to be more embedded in structures of family, community and church than urban youth. Urban youth is a very heterogeneous group that can be divided into various subgroups, depending on interests and social class provenance. For example in Vienna there is a high amount of young second generation migrants stemming from South-East Europe and from Arab countries.
Mobile phones (called Handys), rock music, friends and family are the three most important things for Austrian youth (result of the latest youth study). Austrian youngsters are more interested in having good, trustful friendships and an intact family life than consuming alcohol, being up-to-date with the latest political issues or buying computer games. As with regards to youth work – especially Euro-Med youth work – it is a tough thing, as many youths and social workers say: The major problem you encounter in Austria is that it is pretty hard to find youths interested in an action. Furthermore there are not many active NGOs which deal with the youth4europe programme, especially in the Western side of the country, which makes it quite difficult to organise a youth exchange for instance. Youths are very much interested in meeting friends, making rock music (which still dominates the country), going on inter-rail with friends, and of course snowboarding, which is the favourite kind of sport (so say 80% of the 1300 interviewed youngsters).
Following are some intersting testimonies given by young Austrians that reflect the situation of young people in Austria: