Keywords: Capability Approach; Young Adults; Education; Social Pedagogy.
This article discusses the capability approach in relation to young adults’ educational and labour market opportunities. The jumping-off point for this primarily theoretical discussion is informed, inspired and linked to insights, references and reflections drawn from two empirical studies conducted within the framework of two European research projects (the EU WorkAble and EU SocIEtY projects). One of the aims of these projects was to highlight young people’s pathways from education and training to labour market participation. In this article, we position ourselves within the expansive theoretical framework provided by the capability approach, emphasizing two particular aspects: young people’s ‘voice’ and ‘choice’. We have previously found that young people’s voices are not taken seriously and consequently that their wishes and choices are not welcomed nor recognized by staff of the EGU. Therefore, we conclude the article by highlighting three options for these young people: rejecting job activation policy (rejecting the ‘work first approach’) by means of (1) real negotiations regarding the offers they receive, (2) a right to refuse offers they do not have reason to value in the guise of exit, and (3) an unconditional basic income (a ‘life first’ approach).