Job Opportunities Ruined by Social Networks by vdw13487

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									     Universidade de Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro
         Departamento de Economia e Sociologia

              Young People:
from vocational dreams to pragmatism
     Policies and Young People in Rural Development

                    National Report,
          Santa Marta de Penaguião Study Area,

                                                      José Portela
                                                      Chris Gerry
                                                 Patrícia António
                                                 Carlos Marques
                                                   Vasco Rebelo

                       July 2000
Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Theory and methodology .......................................................                                             1

   1.1       Research context, aims, and main concepts...................................                                            1
   1.2.      Methodology: the interview experience, sample profile and data
             analysis .......................................................................................                        2
   1.2.1     The interview experience....................................................................................             3

   1.2.2     The sample of SMP youth interviewed: profile and sample limitations... .........                                        11

   1.2.3     Data analysis .......................................................................................................   13

   1.3       The report strucure and the problems of a ―double translation‖ ......                                                   15

Chapter 2 Santa Marta de Penaguião: from the regional to the local
context     ............................................................................................                             17
   2.1       Geography and transports: a sense of remoteness and duality ........                                                    17

   2.2       Demography, housing and interdependency of household
             members .....................................................................................                           22

   2.3       Education and training systems: poor performance .......................                                                27
   2.4       Economy, employment and clientelism ........................................                                            32

   2.5.      Social welfare: scanty pensions and grants that barely alleviate
             poverty .......................................................................................                         34

   2.6       Purchasing power and cultural services: paucity is the rule............                                                 37
   2.7       Politics: local participation and duality .........................................                                     39

Chapter 3 Santa Marta de Penaguião: six local paradoxes.....................                                                         41
   3.1       Paradox one: the ubiquitous vineyard versus the generalised
             rejection of farm employment ......................................................                                     41
   3.2       Paradox two: education is praised but a large proportion of
             youngsters leave prematurely the school.......................................                                          45

  3.3     Paradox three: completing one‘s education is generally seen as a
          prime means of finding satisfactory employment, yet youth in
          SMP tend to have reservations about returning to school ...............                                                   54

  3.4     Paradox four: in their transition to adulthood, the SMP
          youngsters benefit much more from the ―local‖ support than
          from the state apparatus and the market ........................................                                          60
  3.5     Paradox five: relatively high youth participation in social and
          political life versus official ignorance of their ideas, aspirations
          and needs ....................................................................................                            68

  3.6     Paradox 6: For the interviewees, both SMP‘s future and the
          available policies do not look promising. However, youth seem
          willing to stay ............. ................................................................                            77

Chapter 4 Santa Marta de Penaguião: pathways to employment ...........                                                              84
  4.1     Employment and unemployment in Santa Marta de Penaguião:
          Recent trends & tendencies ..........................................................                                     84
  4.2     The Occupational profile of the sample ........................................                                           87
  4.2.1   Inroduction..........................................................................................................     87

  4.2.2   Current occupational profile of the interviewees................................................                          88

  4.3     Experiences of employment and unemployment ...........................                                                    91
  4.3.1   From first experiences to the current job: the volatility of employment
          pathway................................... ............................................................................   91

  4.3.2   First experiences of employment and unemployment ........................................                                 93

  4.4     Employment pathways and the school-to-work transition ..............                                                      98
  4.4.1   Towards a typology of employment pathways ...................................................                             98

  4.4.2   (A) First steps #1 – still studying........................................................................               98

  4.4.3   (B)First steps #2 – working and studying ...........................................................                      99

  4.4.4   (C) First steps #3 or Unstable pathway #1 – Indeterminate outcome.................                                        99

  4.4.5   (D) Unstable pathway #2 – Complex, unpredictable outcome ...........................                                      99

  4.4.6   (E) Unstable pathway #3 – (Un)interrupted exclusion .......................................                               99

  4.4.7    (F) Stable pathway #2 Interrupted (possible precarious) inclusion ...................                                   100

  4.4.8    (G) Stable pathway #1 – Direct, uninterrupted inclusion ...................................                             100

  4.5      Employment pathways: the realities behind the typology ..............                                                   102
  4.5.1    Introduction.........................................................................................................   102

  4.5.2    Pathways and turning points. ..............................................................................             102

  4.5.3    Factors facilitating and inhibiting the transition to stable employment..... ........                                   112

  4.6      Labour market conditions: Santa Marta as a ―problem county‖......                                                       120

Chapter 5 Conclusions and Policy Implications......................................                                                122
  5.1      Conclusions ................................................................................                            122
  5.1.1    SMP‘s culture is a major element in both social inclusion and social
           exclusion processes.............................................................................................        122

  5.1.2    For SMP youth, employment is not work but secure wage-employment...........                                             123

  5.1.3    Broken links in SMP‘s school – work chain ......................................................                        125

  5.1.4    Many SMP youth, particularly the more educated, in the course of their
           school- to-work transition, experience unstable, fragmented and intermittent
           employment ........................................................................................................     126

  5.1.5    SMP youth pragmatically revise downwards which rung on their ―wish
           ladder‖ they expect to finish on .........................................................................              127

  5.2      Policy implications ......................................................................                              128
  5.2.1    An introductory key note ....................................................................................           128

  5.2.2    Formal education: personal and occupational dreams, as well as
           professional schooling, should be respected and promoted ................................                               128

  5.2.3    Non-formal, continuous education: the need for tailor- made programmes........                                          130

  5.2.4    Public sector training: the need for more and better opportunities ....................                                 130

  5.2.5    Employment opportunities in SMP: there is some room for manoeuvre, at
           least on paper ......................................................................................................   132

  5.2.6    Some key prerequisites for creating, in loco, the required employment
           opportunities .......................................................................................................   133

  5.2.7    A final key note ..................................................................................................     135


This study would not be possible without the invaluable contribution of
many people, among whom the researchers would particularly like to

The 11 key informants and ―institutional actors‖, and, most of all, the 48
young people from Santa Marta de Penaguião who took the time to fill in
interview schedules, talk about themselves in open-ended interviews, often
lasting up to 2 hours. All these people enthusiastically welcomed the idea
of co-operating with the researchers, via interviews, focus groups and
provision of complementary data.

Our gratitude is also extended to the junior researchers Sónia Abreu, Paula
Queirós and Ana Cláudia Pinto. All three acquitted themselves in a most
commendable fashion in the challenging fieldwork and deskwork that this
research involved. Their enthusiasm and commitment, competence and
clarity – and, above all, their youthfulness – contributed significantly to the
quality of the final product.

                                 Chapter 1
                      Theory and methodology


This Portuguese qualitative research study is part of wider project (Policies
and Young People in Rural Development, hereafter designated PAYPIRD),
which involves researchers and ―rural youth‖ of six other European Union
(EU) member states: Austria, France, Finland, Germany, Ireland, and the
UK (Scotland). It has been developed and financed under the EU‘s 4 th
Framework Programmeme for Research, Technology and Development 1.
According to the PAYPIRD technical Appendix, the aim of the global
project is ―to analyse the effects of policies on young people (aged 16-25)
across rural areas of Europe, focussing particularly on their integration with
or exclusion from labour markets‖. The same source defines the research
effort as ―an ex post study of policies affecting rural development, in the
broad sense‖.

Obviously, the main goal of the national research project is not distinct
from PAYPIRD, and it may be formulated as the search for understanding
the multiple processes of socio-economic inclusion and/or exclusion of
youth that live in Santa Marta de Penaguião (SMP)2. Particularly, inclusion
and/or exclusion in/from rural employment opportunities associated with
the nature of the labour market inefficiencies, housing difficulties,
educational inadequacies, low incomes and poor dynamic economic
activities are the core processes of the study undertaken with the young
people from SMP, a rural area in northern Portugal (see Figure 1 in Chapter
2). This national report summarises the results of the empirical work that
took place in that specific area, which has intrinsic potentialities,
essentially due to its landscape and wine production-based economy, as
well as several weaknesses (see the overview of the research area also
contained in Chapter 2).
Although the research methodology used is dealt with in the next section, at
this outset it is appropriate to call attention to the qualitative nature of this
study, which, among other reasons, could be justified by the absence of
previous studies with a similar, specific focus. Particularly, in the
Portuguese case, there is a quite glaring scarcity of studies on ―rural
youth‖ 3. The present study resorted to qualitative techniques such as semi-

structured interviews of key-informants and youngsters and focus group
discussions. The use of topic guides, semi- and structured questionnaire
was balanced with the researchers‘ attitudes of stimulating the
interviewees‘ participation as much as possible. We believe that all type of
informants, particularly the youth, had the chance to express openly their
views and experiences concerning the research themes and questions.
Bearing in mind the preliminary nature and scope of this report, we are not
going to labour on the theoretical underpinnings of every aspect of the
PAYPIRD project‘s empirical research. However, it is worth alluding to a
few points. First of all, the set of underlying theoretical concepts used is
numerous, and among the major ones we would pinpoint to the following:
rurality, social and economic policies, youth, social exclusion/inclusion,
labour markets, social networks, and rural development. Secondly, it is
obvious that any and all of these concepts could be the subject of lengthy
(re)theorising from multiple points of view, particularly from the
perspective of the interaction between newly collected empirical data and
existing theory. Thirdly, and in spite of what has just been said, it is
certainly appropriate to briefly outline three general views we take
concerning qualitative sociological research.
To begin with, we assume that social phenomena are complex,
multidimensional, and dynamic and these features call for particular
attention to the various grounded contexts in which both the close and
distant social relations take place. To give a very simple example, the
family incomes of SMP farm wage workers (a key mechanism leading, or
not, to ―social inclusion‖) have to a large extent been dependent upon the
evolution of the international market for Port wine. Qualitative research
may uncover the ―reality‖ of social phenomena, promoting the
understanding of what lies behind, ahead, above and below it, but, at the
same time, it inevitably raises new and at times surprising observations and
unanswered questions. Finally, regardless the quality of the research work,
the researchers‘ views on the concepts used cannot be disconnected from
the final findings.

1.2 METHODOLOGY:    THE   INTERVIEW                       EXPERIENCE,

This section focuses on three methodological points. In the first we
concentrate on the issues related to the interview experience and the
processes we used to pursue our research work. Some considerations will
be made not only concerning the information gathered with both the semi-
structured conversation based upon open questions and the follow-up

questionnaire, but specifically the reactions we obtained in the inquiry
process. These elements also constitute valuable qualitative data.
References to the issue of accessing interviewees will also be made. The
second section is constituted by a preliminary, general descriptive analysis
of the characteristics of the young people interviewed in SMP. Finally, we
put forward some notes on how the analyses were developed.

1.2.1    The interview experience

In order to explore empirically how the rural youth from SMP interact with
the labour market, an initial phase of six interviews with key-informants
and 46 in-depth interviews was carried out. In a subsequent phase, three
focus groups were formed to establish a more integrated approach to the
problems of inclusion and/or exclusion of young people of the rural area of
SMP into/from the labour market. The two first focus groups were
constituted by individually interviewed youngsters and the third one
included seven adults representative of what we may call key local
―institutional actors‖.

        Key-informants interviews and interviewers
At the beginning of the research process we interviewed six key-informants
from SMP, in order to obtain information not only of how they view young
people‘s attitudes towards the various aspects of the social sphere but also
the institutional arrangements that are directed towards meeting young
people‘s needs. The interviews were developed on the basis of a topic
guide (Appendix 1.1). We found it highly relevant to individually interview
the following four women and two men:

- a local priest who has had direct contact with youngsters and their
  families for a relatively long period of time in their lives and who also
  has data on the role of the church concerning social welfare;
- a female teacher, member of the managing committee of the school that
  provides compulsory education in SMP, who gave us information on the
  most significant problems students encounter when attending classes;
- an agricultural technician, who gave us valuable information concerning
  the practise of youth relatively to applying to agricultural
  programmemes and also in relation to local political issues. This was
  possible since he was a former senior officer of the IPJ - Instituto
  Português da Juventude (the Portuguese Youth Institute) and he was
  also involved in the youth branch of a political party;

- a female social worker from the Social Welfare Services in SMP, who
  provided us with information on the Guaranteed Minimum Income 4 and
  on social problems common to dysfunctional families;

- a university lecturer whose parents live in SMP, who gave us her view
  on how it was to live in SMP and how she currently sees her home area
  from an outside point of view;
- a female nurse who works at the Health Centre, who is also a member of
  the local evaluation committee for the Guaranteed Minimum Income
  (GMI). She provided us with insights into some of the social problems
  that require medical assistance, namely unwanted pregnancies, alcohol
  and drug abuse.

We had no problems whatsoever of accessing these key-informants, who
constituted a valuable source of information not only in the sense of
providing information about SMP and its institutional arrangements but
also revealing information that was of significant importance to contrast
with the opinions of young people. These conversations were used as a
basis of the interview guide for the focus groups discussions that took place
at a later stage. The interviews were all taped (see Appendix 1.2) and it is
important to mention that none of the interviewees felt that the recorder
restricted what they wanted to say. All key-informants were willing to
participate at a later date in a focus group discussion and interact with other
important actors of SMP.

These interviews were conducted essentially by one of the junior
researchers that would also interview the young people, with the exception
of one of the first interviews, which was conducted by the co-ordinator of
our team.

        Pilot interviews and subsequent interviewing of youth
At the beginning of the field research we tested both the interview topic
guide (open questions) and the questionnaire (closed questions) with two
youngsters from SMP. These pilot interviews were conducted by a member
of the research team with the presence of the two junior researchers that
would be responsible for the 40 interviews that would follow.
Except for eight cases, the inquiry of the young people that constitute our
sample was done jointly by two female interviewers: one, who actually
asked the questions, and the other who took complementary notes. One of
the interviewers has a university degree while the other is in her final year.
Both interviewers have much experience in conducting interviews, which

constituted an important tool in obtaining information from some of the
shiest youngsters. In fact, one of the interviewers has an excellent capacity
of probing and rephrasing questions in order to make them tangible by all
youngsters, independently of their education level and expressing

       Places and time of the interviews
During the interview planning process, the specific place were the young
people live was taken into account, due to the heterogeneity of the 10
parishes of SMP. In fact, SMP is constituted of parishes in the highlands
and the lowlands. It is in the later that vineyards predominate. This
diversity is important in the sense that job opportunities and life experience
could be different, depending on the specific parish. It was possible to
interview young people from seven parishes of the concelho of SMP, two
of them having mountain characteristics (Table 1.1). There are no
interviews from the remaining parishes (Fornelos, Sanhoane, Alvações do

            Table 1.1 - Distribution of interviewees by parish and village
        Parish                    Village                   Nº of interviews
        São Miguel de Lobrigos    SMP (centre)                        19
                                  Laurentim                            1
        São João de Lobrigos      São João de Lobrigos                 7
        Cumieira                  Cumieira                             5
                                  Amoreira                             1
        Louredo                   Paradela do Monte                    5
        Sever                     Banduge                              2
                                  Mafómedes                            2
        Medrões                   Medrões                              3
        Fontes                    Fontes                               1
At a first stage of the inquiry, we interviewed 40 youngsters from SMP.
The interviewees were identified mainly through two processes: "direct
approach" and "snowball". With the first process, youngsters were
approached by chance, on the street, at the occupation/work place and in
cafés. In the second, youth interviewed/contacted through the first process
were asked for information about other young people (contacts, age,
occupation, etc). Respondents were selected to guarantee that a wide range
of occupational situations were included, including youth in education and
in employment, as well as unemployed and in training schemes.
The majority of the interviews were done at the work/occupation place
(services and commerce) of the interviewees, even though some were also
done in cafés, on the street and at the youngsters' home (Table 1.2). Three

interviews were conducted at the Tourism Information Centre and other
three in the Local Council. The interviews took place from November to
December, 1999. As in the case of the key-informants, we had no problems
whatsoever of approaching the young interviewees. All of them were
willing to respond to our questions. In all cases there were no problems of
securing anonymity.

        Table 1.2 - Distribution of interviewees by stage and place of interview
                                  Place of inte rvie w
                           Place of
     Stage         work/occupation        Café        Home      Street      Total
     1st                        25           10          4           1        40
     2nd                          1           0          4           1          6
     Total                      26           10          8           2        46
After reflection over the situations provided by these 40 interviews an
additional 6 were done with the purpose of filling in the gaps related to the
occupation of the youngsters (unemployed, employed in agriculture,
undertaking a training course, student). At this stage the contact with the
young people was established through key-informants (Job Centre,
teachers, elderly inhabitants of SMP), to guarantee that the needed
requisites would be met. Four of these youngsters were contacted by phone
and two through their teachers and trainee course teacher, the interviews
being done at their houses, in the street and in the work place. There were
no difficulties of accessing them and the interviews easily took place at the
end of February and during March of 2000.

The duration of the interviews varied between 16 and 66 minutes, with an
average duration of 35 minutes (see Appendix 1.3). After the interview in
the strict sense, the questionnaire was filled in, which took, on average, 10
minutes. All the interviewees allowed the interview to be audio taped,
making it possible to transcribe all the dialogue, which led to an extensive
work of 906 pages of transcribed interviews.

       Social relationships between the interviewees
During the interviewing process, and by mere chance, young people with
family and/or friend relationships were interviewed in different moments
(Table 1.3).

             Table 1.3 - Relationships existent between the youth interviewed
                   Existent relations hips   Number of interview
                   Married                   33-34; 42-43
                   Dating                    2-24; 6-11; 13-14; 16-22
                   Brother/sister in law     18-29

During the focus groups it was also acknowledged that a great number of
the young people interviewed knew each other, having been friends since
childhood and/or since school. However, it is not possible to count this
number since the relationships were so differentiated and numerous.

       The Youth interview environment: openness and hesitations

Practically all the interviews occurred in an environment of great ease,
allowing for a very good interaction between interviewers and
interviewees. This environment created an enormous openness on the part
of the young people leading to relatively spontaneous and reliable answers.
Indeed, during the interviews the young people unveiled cultural and
personal ―touchy‖ issues and cases such as:

   - unexpected pregnancy of both married and unmarried girls;
   - friends that were imprisoned;

   - difficult interpersonal relations (wife/husband, mother/daughter,
   - membership of political parties;

   - political influence as a way to get employment.
   - intra- and inter-interviews repetitions of expressions and cross-
     checked information stand for data reliability.
However, some questions did cause hesitations and silence. This did not
change the natural flow of the interviews though, which was based upon a
trustworthy relationship established between interviewer and interviewee.
In fact, at the end of the interview all respondents were asked to give their
opinion about the questions made, and the general reaction was that some
questions made the interviewees think since they had never felt the need to
systematise their thought. This was seen as a positive process to develop a
better understanding of how they can learn from their experiences. João
(38) 5, a teenager interviewed, commented explicitly the following:
     You asked questions that made me think. I had never
     participated in an interview. I happened to like it, I hope I was
     of help.

Thus, the pauses and silences are some how natural and, as it could be
expected, questions regarding the future raised more silence, independent
of the issue: to resume education; future employment objectives; housing

plans; or constituting family in SMP. The uncertainty that the labour
market induces in young people has implications for their opinions in
predicting their future. Very little can be said on where they will live in the
future, or if they will resume education until some kind of stability is found
in terms of a permanent employment. A great number of doubts seem to
come to young people‘s minds with other questions linked to the future
such as the monthly income, transport access, places to leave the children,
adequate qualifications, family support, etc.
It is worth noting that not only questions regarding the future caused
silence, but also when the youngsters were asked to formulate suggestions
to solve the unemployment problem, the silence and absence of coherent
ideas was also a constant. Future projects are effectively linked to a present
lived by the young. Prediction is not only difficult for anyone but also
somewhat impossible for those whose life aspects depend on a labour
market that does not provide them with the basis for any probable future,
i.e. stability and security. Many answers started with expressions such as:

     I would like to; depends on; if I find a job; if I have money; I am
     counting on the support of my parents, but I also have brothers;
Thus, in a sense it is easier not to waste time in formulating explicit plans
about the future, because then these would lead to more questions and more

Other issues such as training and youth participation in the social sphere
were also thought-provoking. The lack of information or misinformation
concerning available opportunities for young people, either in terms of
youth policies or in terms of their participation in decision making of social
life was a common feature in the interviews.
The final section of the interview guide was on young people‘s
participation in local initiatives and their views on policies. Due to the
translation into Portuguese (policy may equal politics) politics also became
an issue. In general this entire section caused quite a few silences motivated
by the following factors: some unawareness on the actual participation of
young people in benefiting from the policies oriented to the youth and
politics in SMP, some ideological disinterest, and some confusion between
policies and politics.

        Focus Groups
The fieldwork was concluded with three focus groups. For each focus

group a distinct interview guide was elaborated (Appendix 1.4, 1.5, 1.6),
based upon the impressions collected from the qualitative and quantitative
analysis of the previous interviews. The two initial focus groups were done
at the local school of SMP and the third one was done at the University of
Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro. All the focus groups had a main interviewer-
group discussion manager (variable) and one or two research team
―helpers‖, who also wrote notes. All these data collection exercises were
audio taped, amounting to nearly six hours of ―conversation‖ (Appendix

All the contacts made with the young people were by phone and started
three weeks before the focus group date, with reminders the day before.
The participants of the third focus group were contacted by fax two weeks
before. At the end of the two initial focus groups the team and the young
people had lunch together providing a further relevant source of
information in a less formal environment.
For the first interview, 14 young people who had been previously
interviewed were selected due to the diversity of situations that they
provided (gender, age, occupation, life history, family situation, etc).
However, on the day of the focus group (20th of May) only four showed up.
For the second interview (27th of May), 16 youngsters that have or have
had experience of unemployment were selected, but again only seven
came. Despite the low number of participants in the first focus group, the
discussion was of considerable interest. It lasted 106 minutes. The second
focus group meeting took 124 minutes and it was also enlightening. We felt
that several conclusions withdrawn from the individual interviews were
reassured in the groups and the debate among the young people was in
many areas quite lively.
The composition of these two first focus groups was as follows.
Focus Group I – diverse experiences:

   - Female, age 23, single, works in the Local Council as an
     administrative auxiliary and studies in evening classes to complete
     the last year of secondary school, (05);
   - Male, age 17, single, student concluding the last year of secondary
     school, (26);
   - Female, age 18, single, student with still two years to complete
     compulsory education, (45);
   - Female, age 20, single, works in the city council with a temporary

      contract, studies in evening classes to complete the last year of
      secondary school, arrived at the end of the focus group, (09).
Focus Group II – unemployment experiences:

   - Female, age 20, single, works in the city council with a temporary
     contract, studies in evening classes to complete the last year of
     secondary school, arrived at the end of the first focus group, (09);
   - Female, age 25, single, worked in a shop at the time of the individual
     interview but was unemployed at the time of the focus group, has
     completed secondary school, (20);

   - Female, age 23, single, works in the fathers‘ shop, was unemployed
     for around a year, has completed compulsory education, (23);

   - Male, age 18, single, unemployed, has completed compulsory
     education, (29);

   - Male, age 20, single, unemployed, doing military service, has
     completed secondary education, (41);
   - Female, age 20, married, unemployed, works in agriculture,
     completed compulsory education, (44);
   - Male, age 23, married, police officer in Lisbon, had previous
     experience of unemployed, (was not interviewed individually and is
     the husband of the interviewee 44).

The third focus group was constituted of ―the institutional actors‖, who due
to their professional experience have contact with young people from SMP.
On the day before we had eight confirmations but only seven showed up,
due to the last minute absence of the Mayor of SMP. The composition of
this focus group was as follows.
Focus Group III - ―the institutional actors‖:

   - a social worker, female, who was previously interviewed as a key-
   - a senior officer of the Job Centre;

   - a priest, a second one, who is also a teacher in the SMP secondary

   - a University lecturer, who was previously interviewed as a key-

   - a Wine Co-operative manager, male;

   - a secondary school teacher, male, who belongs to the Management
     Committee of the SMP secondary school;

   - an officer representing the association of industrial and commercial
     entrepreneurs of a nearby town.

This final focus group lasted for 125 minutes and it took place on the 30 th
of May. In the aftermath of this meeting, the representative of the
entrepreneurs‘ association provided additional information to the co-
ordinator of the Portuguese research team.

1.2.2      SMP youth interviewed: sample profile and limits of the
This section refers to the general description of the characteristics of the
youth interviewed. Given the reduced size of the sample, and the intensive
character of the study, we were not concerned about the generalisation of
the results, which would require a so-called representative sample. The
concern was, instead, to gain variability in the sample, interviewing people
with diverse social features and experiences. The various tables concerning
the quantitative data presented immediately bellow, in the text, are located
in the following chapters, as elements of specific contexts and points. Here,
we aim only at a brief, general description of the SMP youth‘s interviewed,
with a concern on differentiating between genders.

We interviewed a total of 46 young people of which 24 are females and 22
males (Table 1.4). At the time of the fieldwork, in our sample 10
youngsters were classified as unemployed; 29 were employed; 5 were full-
time students (only one woman) and 2 men were in trainee programmes.
The majority of the young people employed were working in services.

        Table 1.4 - Occupational status, by age and gende r, at the time of interview
                          Teenagers          Early twenties       Mid-twenties
         Class of age
                            (16-19)             (20-22)             (23-25)         Total
               Gender    Male Female         Male Female         Male Female
  Full- time student        3       1           1          -        -          -         5
  Trainee                   1       -           1          -        -          -         2
  Employed                   -      4           3         5         9         8         29
  Unemployed                2       -           2         3         -         3         10
  Total                     6       5           7         8         9        11         46
Compulsory education was attended by slightly more than half (26) of the
young people interviewed. We interviewed only 2 youngsters (one female

and one male) who attended higher education, one of them having
completed her course. A considerable number of young people, 20
interviewees, did not study beyond compulsory education and 5 only
attended the primary level, even though 3 of these dropped out before
completing this level.

The majority of the respondents, 26 individuals, attended upper secondary
education, but at the time of the interview only 12 had completed this level.
In general, women have a lower level of qualifications than men: 54% of
the female respondents never attended any level further than compulsory
education. In the case of the men this figure is around 31%.
More than 80% of the young people from our sample live with their parents
and are satisfied with their living arrangements both in terms of physical
conditions and of social relations. In terms of gender, women are less
satisfied with their living arrangements than men: the only answers of
dissatisfaction were of female respondents. Around 60% of the respondents
see themselves living in the future in SMP. Female respondents, even
though less satisfied with their living arrangements, are the ones that see
themselves as most likely to stay in SMP (70%).

Twelve of the 46 interviewees have no access to a private means of
transportation, the remaining 34 have access to a car and/or motorbike any
time they need to. Access to a motorbike is not common among women.
The monthly income received by young people is relatively low in the
sense that, with the exception of one person, all the others receive less than
two times the minimum wage which is of around ¤ 300, and in fact, 11
youngsters receive a monthly wage bellow the minimum wage. There are
no male respondents in this last income band. It is worth noting that there
are 10 people who have no income: five full-time students and five of the
unemployed people.
Before presenting some considerations on the analyses we undertook, it is
worth noting some of the empirical limitations of our sample. Neither the
youth established on the ―margins‖ of our sample nor the SMP‘s
youngsters who live elsewhere were interviewed. That is, our research data
is ―biased‖ against three social categories, whose importance should not be
underestimated: the youngest teenagers (13-15 years of age) – who will
soon experience something of what we have studied; the older individuals
(26-30 years of age) – who already have, and non-residents (including ex-
residents), who may, in a sense, have ―voted with their feet‖. In several
respects (for example, the period of transition school/first employment,
place and duration of the first employment and unemployment) the

inclusion of these youth in the sample, would undoubtedly allow more in-
depth analyses.
It is also worth mentioning that our sample is possibly ―biased‖ against
those youngsters who live in SMP and work outside the county, i.e. in
neighbouring towns and counties. Although some questionnaire work
occurred during the weekends, we did not interview more than one
youngster at such times [Graça (37), seamstress in Vila Real workshop and
self-employed tailoress at home]. However, general data indicates that the
number of the employed who live and work in SMP is lower than the
corresponding figures for the Douro sub-region as a whole, respectively
79% and 91%6. Obviously, these data suggest that there are SMP‘s
residents working in the neighbouring counties.

1.2.3    Data analysis

After obtaining voluminous transcripts of each type of interviews, a
preliminary, global analysis started. The inquiry of key informants, for
example, suggested that both the further collection of statistical data from
local structures and bodies as well as from a focus group constituted by
―institutional actors‖ would be fruitful. Thus, information on SMP school
leaving, the IPJ‘s training courses and on recipients of the Guaranteed
Minimum Income (GMI), for instance, was also collected.

The first reading of the 46 transcripts of the youngsters‘ interviews allowed
us the following:

   - to probe the local milieu surrounding the young people that were
     interviewed as well as the domains and themes where silence and
     repetitions emerged;
   - to become aware of the limits and internal differentiation of the
   - to identify some preliminary, distinct school-work pathways;
   - to identify the most vivid and enlightening youngsters‘ cases;

   - to initiate the crossing of data: youngsters versus youngsters, and
     youngsters versus key informants.

To deepen and confirm these preliminary outcomes, the trans criptions were
read a great number of times. Every time we had a particular aim in mind,
and any piece of data selected for comparison was referred, at least, to three
axes: the integrity of the individual interview, the context of all interviews

and the similarity/differentiation to/from other clusters of cases. Thus, we
may refer to forward-backward and bottom-up (extensive and in-depth)
readings plus individual, partial (clusters of interviews) and global
analyses. Sometimes we have done the quantitative assessment of the
relevance of specific experiences or issues that were not covered in the
fieldwork questionnaire. In brief, we have tried, first, to separate themes
and segments of the interviews transcripts; second, redefine, reassemble
and mould them in new concepts and forms of expression.
It is possible to state explicitly that the initial readings of the transcripts of
the youngsters‘ interviews have allowed us to explore and compare
answers around the following issues and dimensions:

   - residence versus mobility [(seasonal) (e)migrants, newcomers];
   - parents‘ and youngsters‘ attitudes as to education and school leaving;

   - youngsters‘ attitudes concerning resuming (adult) education versus
   - dreams about future professions versus current occupations, as well
     as current occupations versus likely occupations in the immediate

   - work (occasional, precarious and stable placements) versus

   - public and private supply-led training courses versus demand-led
     training needs and responses;

   - state interventionism versus supportive actions from family and
     social networks;

   - youngsters‘ personal life versus youngsters‘ civic and political life.
The first readings also served the purpose of compiling the available data in
―occupational history-diagrams‖ (Appendix 1.8) from which we visually
inferred certain aspects, particularly regarding the complexity of paths each
young person had during their lives. This was of great help in defining
different approaches to read the transcriptions, which have allowed, for
example, the following:

   - selection of key-statements relating to the themes in the topic guide,
     namely education, training, (un)employment, housing, family,
     friends and social networks and policy;

   - selection and categorisation of key-statements in terms of the
     variables we considered most relevant in explaining the nature and
     dynamics of distinct types of pathways.

The extensive and in-depth analyses were initially developed by distinct
members of the research team, who presented their results in regular team
meetings. These outcomes were examined and cross-checked by the other
researchers‘ analyses. Through these discussions, paradoxes involving
SMP‘s ―rural youth‖ as well as some pathways to (un)employment
emerged. The ensuing focus groups discussions helped to review these
working hypotheses.


The structure of this report results from, on the one hand, an initial
document provided by the overall research co-ordinator (the ―structure for
the national reports – draft‖), and, on the other, the multiple analyses that
were undertaken. Paying due attention to the volume and specificity of the
material available, the final structure evolved rather naturally into the
following. After setting the theoretical and methodological framework of
the research (chapter 1), the regional and local context of the research site
is provided (chapter 2). The bulk of the analyses is depicted in six
paradoxes that the authors feel not only exemplify but also condition the
situation rural youth face in SMP (chapter 3), seven (un)employment
pathways and five interviewees‘ cases, each one including a pathway
summary and a pathway diagnosis (chapter 4). This diagnosis focuses on
the key forces that, individually or in combination, influence successive
phases of the employment pathway, and its major turning points, namely,
personal initiative, policy, social networks, and the market. The major
conclusions and main policy implications follow (chapter 5).
In these concluding lines of the first chapter, it seems inevitable that we
should raise the issue of the ―writing‖ this research report. Obviously, any
report of this sort is a researchers‘ ―construct‖, but we would like to stress
that this exercise has faced the problem of what we call a ―double
translation‖. On the one hand, the relatively specific, fluid ―language‖ and
views of the youngsters interviewed to some extent had to be translated
into the researchers‘ discourse. In this respect, for example, it is worth
recalling the lad in his twenties whom we interviewed, who quite clearly
did not see himself as a ―youngster‖. It is also true that many of the
youngsters may not have perceived themselves as ―rural‖. Furthermore,
Portuguese expressions had do be converted into English. In any case, we

hope that the reader will not be either disappointed, or misled, by the
double – or even triple – translations that, literally or figuratively, we have
undertaken, and which ‗populate‘ much of the report that follows.

                               Chapter 2
     Santa Marta de Penaguião: from the regional
                 to the local context

In this second chapter we present a brief overview of the regional and local
context in which the rural youth studied live. We have tried to interconnect
data of different sources and nature, moving from, for example, the
quantitative data at the regional level to the qualitative information
expressed in a specific respondent‘s interview.

2.1 GEOGRAPHY AND TRANSPORTS:                          A    SENSE       OF

In the EU statistical system, SMP is a NUT IV; hierarchically, it belongs to
the sub-region designated NUT III (Douro), which in turn is part of the
NUT II (Norte), which constitutes one of the components of continental
Portugal (NUT Continente). Figure 1 below shows the 19 concelhos 7 or
counties (NUT IV) that make up the NUT III Douro and their relative
positions in the NUT I Continente. The NUT III in which the study area is
located takes its name from the major river that divides the region roughly
in half. Most of the concelhos of the Douro are part of the demarcated wine
region (Região Demarcada do Douro – RDD) that produces the world-
famous Porto fortified wine.
The concelho of SMP is situated in the western part of the Douro NUT,
between the concelhos of Peso da Régua, to the south, and Vila Real, to the
north, whose administrative centres (which bear the same names as their
respective concelhos), along with Lamego (further to the South) constitute
the main urban centres of this NUT. In spite of the physical proximity
between SMP and the main, neighbouring urban centres (Vila Real, 15 km;
Lamego, 20 km; Porto, 120 km), once there, one feels a certain sense of
remoteness. This psychological outcome results very likely from the
association of the following observable features: hilly topography, access
roads full of bends, poor public transport system and small communities.

Figure 1 - Location of Santa Marta de Penaguião

Thus, no wonder the following teenager commented:

     That‘s the problemt – SMP has nothing. It is a very small,
     closed environment. We have nowhere to go. Nothing, all we
     have got are hills and more hills. There‘s no pub, nothing.
                                                      Nuno (29), 17 years old

Since the public transport system is poor, SMP residents have to rely upon
private means. As to the youth interviewed, the situation is pictured the
following way: 20 young men have access to at least one means of private
transport, while only 14 young women have access to a car (Table 2.1).
Access to a motorbike is restricted to males.

                   Table 2.1 - Type of access to vehicles, by gender
                   Type of access         Male               Female
                   Car                     15                    14
                   Car and motorbike         1                    -
                   Motorbike                 4                    -
                   No access, but driving    -                    1
                   No driving licence        2                       9
                  Source: Fieldwork interviews, SMP, 1999-2000

From the total of 46 interviews 12 youngsters have no access to any form
of private transport. However, most of the respondents (30 out of 34) have
access to a vehicle any time they need to (Table 2.2). In this respect, SMP‘s
position is better than that of the region as a whole. In fact, in 1990, the rate
of vehicles was of 160 per thousand inhabitants, compared with 147 and
181, for the Douro area and the northern region respectively 8.

                        Table 2.2 - Degree of access to vehicles
                                          Degree of access
                  Type of         Any       Most of       Only
                  access          time      the time   sometimes
                  Car              26           2          1
                  Car and           1           -          -
                  Motorbike        3            -                1
                  Total            30           2                2
              Source: Fieldwork interviews, SMP, 1999-2000

Access to any form of transportation may obviously diminish the sense of
remoteness, but the poor public transport system gets worse as one goes to
the most peripheral villages within the concelho. In this and many other
respects we may speak of SMP as a dual territory.
A clear duality exists between the group of freguesias9 officially
categorised as rural, located in the more mountainous Northwest of SMP,
and the parishes in the Southwest of the county. The former have a lower
population density; a lower proportion of the land devoted to agriculture, a
lower rate of employment, a greater preponderance of aged population, and
have suffered from more extreme depopulation.
In all respects indicated above, the parishes of the Southwest, where
vineyard production predominates, have the opposite characteristics: more
densely populated, more predominantly and intensively agricultural, with a
younger and more economically active population.

Figure 2 - Santa Marta de Penaguião and its territorial duality


After a slight fall at the beginning of the century, the population of SMP
increased 1.6% annually between 1920 and 1940, and since then it has
decreased. Portugal‘s National Statistical Office (INE) estimates that the
relentless downward trend softened somewhat in the early 1990s: from
1992 to 1998, there was an absolute recovery of around 300 inhabitants.
How sustainable this deceleration has been will be confirmed after 2001,
when the next population census takes place. Nevertheless, the data show
that, between the last two Census, the highest recorded rate of population
decrease occurred (-1.4% per annum), and that, during the same period, the
absolute level of the concelho‘s population also reached an all-time
recorded minimum.

    Source: Instituto Nacional de Estatística

                       Figure 3 - Population trends in SMP (1900-98)

The population decline is largely explained by the depopulation caused by
emigration both to other European countries and to the metropolitan areas
of Lisbon and Porto, which reached its peak during the 1960‘s and revived
during the 80‘s. A social worker and a school teacher of SMP secondary
school, two of our key informants, respectively stressed the great
magnitude of the local, traditional emigration as follows:

    They [the youngsters] do think a lot about emigrating. As their
    uncles as well as with their cousins have done it, as well as
    their parents, perhaps, it‘s never far from their thoughts.

     There are many school students whose parents are emigrants,
     i.e. away either permanently, or seasonally. During such
     periods [of parental absence] they live with their grandparents,
     godparents or uncles, and therefore, it [emigration] is a daily
     matter that they take for granted and feel to be quite normal.

The social worker referred particularly to the very likely impact of
traditional emigration on the youngsters‘ attitudes towards job
opportunities, particularly among school leavers. She said:
     School leavers have little … willingness to work [in farming and
     building], so to speak. What they say nowadays ... is that, as
     soon as they are old enough and have got the wherewithal, they
     will go elsewhere, in or out of the country.
Curiously, it is the same migration movements that explain the slight
recovery experienced in recent years: the general pattern for the Douro
region throughout the present decade has been for the natural rate of
growth to be negative. For example, for the last three years for which data
exists, the birth rate was 8.5‰ while the death rate has been around 12‰.
The phenomenon of death rates exceeding birth rates is a natural
consequence of the double ageing of the population characterising the last
few decades, and which tends to persist, as shown in Figure 4


                   Figure 4 - Population by age classes in SMP

The rate of ageing (i.e. the ratio between population over 65 and under 15)
grew from 40% in 1981 to 76% in 1991, with a rate of 116% being
predicted for 1998. This figure is slightly over the average for the Douro
region (109%) and significantly higher than that of the Northern region as a
whole (70%). While far from being among the concelhos of the Douro
most affected by the relative growth of its aged population, the situation in

SMP is nevertheless markedly more severe than is the case in the
neighbouring concelhos. In addition to the natural ageing of the population,
migration has also contributed significantly to an increase in the absolute
level of the population over 25 years old.
The marriage rate in SMP is also one of the lowest in the Douro (at 5.8‰),
a value substantially lower than the 7.5%o of the Northern region as a
whole. As with the birth rate, the explanation for these values is also the
low number of inhabitants in the prime marriageable age bracket (namely,
from 15 to 24 years old). Marriage remains the predominant option for the
rural population, most of whom typically marry early: in 1991, 29% of
female residents who had lived to 12 years of age had married by the time
they were 20, 77% were married before attaining the age of 25. Elsa (19),
who is 24 years old and already has 3 children, and who is a social worker
(previously attached to the SMP health centre) corroborated strongly the
notion of early marriage. This key informant revealed the following:
     [In SMP] there is a strange phenomenon… at the time I was a
     bit surprised… they marry very young. A 20 year old single girl
     may be considered a spinster. There is a great concern, both
     among women and their parents that they marry early. Parents
     become also very worried if they have a daughter of 18 and do
     not see her dating. It‘s a thing… well, it has to do with culture.
     … Pregnancies tend to occur at an early age, between 17 and
     18 years old. We have a considerable number of pregnancies at
     those ages.

These data seem to suggest an opposite trend to that identified in many
studies on youth in Europe10, according to which there is a marked delay in
household formation.
In SMP, the non-existence of a housing market is clear, at least in the
traditional sense of the term. Obviously, this is not to say that there are no
houses to sell, but the fact is that demand for housing expresses itself in the
relation between potential seller and interested buyimng, without
intermediaries. The fact that SMP is a concelho close to two urban centres
and that much of the available land is occupied essentially by vineyards,
has a clear consequence for the house prices; most young people feel that
houses are markedly over priced. Nevertheless, the housing issue did not
show itself to be of major concern to the young people interviewed. As we
will show below, families provide very important support in this regard.

Most of the youth interviewed (80%), have lived with their parents for a
considerable number of years, even after the conventional age of adulthood
has been reached (18). In general, they seemed very satisfied with their
living arrangements, both in terms of the physical conditions of their
houses and in terms of the social living arrangements. There appeared only
2 cases of youngsters who live with their parents and are not satisfied with
their present living arrangements. The physical arrangements appear to
contribute more to any overall dissatisfaction with living conditions than
the social environment young people experience at home. In fact, the
perception of a social worker of SMP is that in families that have low
incomes there is, clearly, a lack of space in the house for all members of the
family and it gets worse if married youngsters continue to live with their
parents or parents-in-law. This key informant‘s perception is surely right.
In fact, SMP is one of the concelhos in Northern Portugal that has more
families in houses with over-occupation. The 1991 Census shows that in
SMP there are 9% to 12% of the families living in over populated houses.
Moreover, the Local Council, according to the same source, invests less
than 4% of its budget in building and buying houses for families with
economic difficulties. The situation is likely to have deteriorated further in
the intervening years, particularly due to increasing house prices.

                  Table 2.3 - Living arrangements (social and physical)
                                       Arrangements Satisfaction (Social)         Total
                                       Satisfied Satisfied Unsatisfied
                  Satisfied                       22             2                 21
                  Satisfied                       11             5            1    14
                  Unsatisfied                      3             1            1     5
     Total                                        36             8            2    40
   Source: Fieldwork interviews, SMP, 1999-2000

Analysing the opinions regarding living arrangements by gender we find
that women are less satisfied: all the cases of dissatisfaction are of female
interviewees, but again the physical conditions constitute more of a concern
than the social arrangements.

              Table 2.4 - Satisfaction with living arrangements, by gender
                                    Satisfaction         Male        Female
                                    Very satisfied         14            10
                                    Satisfied                8            9
                                    Unsatisfied                           5
                                    Very satisfied         21            15
                                    Satisfied                1            7
                                    Unsatisfied                           2
                Source: Fieldwork interviews, SMP, 1999-2000

It is very rare for young people to live alone, the decision to move out of
the parental house normally being linked to marriage. The persistence of
one‘s living in the parents‘ household is partly due to a combination of
reasons. Among them there are employment issues, escalating house prices,
a reciprocal aid relation between parents and young people, and a culturally
rooted idea that youngsters only move out of home when they marry, this
being most commonly felt by females. This latter reason is highlighted
quite explicitly by the following statement:
     Until I marry I intend to stay with my parents. After I marry,
     we‘ll see... How can I explain? For as long as I‘m not married,
     I want to live with my parents, afterwards I‘ll want to live with
     my husband.
                                           Sandra (07), 16 years old, single

The young people interviewed live mainly with their parents and/or
relatives, the nuclear family being the most common unit. There was no
case of a young person living alone, or with friends. This characteristic
applies equally and to an equal extent for both men and women. There are
3 cases of young people being married and living with parents and/or

                     Table 2.5 - Living arrangements, by gender
                                                       Male   Female
              With partner/spouse                         2        4
              With parents                              19       18
              With partner/spouse and parents             1        1
              With partner/spouse and relatives                    1
              Source: Fieldwork interviews, SMP, 1999-2000

In 1991, in the northern region and Douro the average dimension of a
family was respectively of 3,4 and 3,1 individuals 11.
As presented in Chapters 3 and 4, family bonds are effectively very tight at
all levels throughout young peoples‘ school to employment pathways, but
with regard to housing the bonds seem to extent far into the future. It is not
uncommon to speak to a young person that foresees him- or herself owning
and living in the parental home after they die, even if there are other
siblings that may share in the inheritance. This is so particularly if the
youngster has helped parents through the ageing process. It is interesting to
note that this inter-dependency is recognised by all those involved. Young
people point out that parental support is very important but also the parents
acknowledge the help they receive from their children. This inter-
dependence is reflected in the next two statements, in which it is clear that

all find this process quite natural. I‘m employed I don‘t depend only on my parents, I also
     depend on myself. I receive my salary, I give half of it to my
     parents and the rest is for me.

                                         Mário (16), 24 years old, single
     The house I live in belongs to my parents. As far as I can see,
     the house is going to be mine [the emphasis is ours]. That is it,
     I will stay were I am. (...) I would like to stay close to him
     husband. But, because of the age of my mother, you have to
     take everything into consideration, don‘t you? One day, if my
     mother were to die or something like that, I would like to go
     there where her husband works and lives  or if he could move
     closer to here on the basis of a job transfer.

                                         Rita (44), 20 years old, married

In fact, young people may be married and still live with their parents,
extending their economic inter-dependence for a longer period of time.
Both the increase in the life expectancy of the elderly and the instability of
the labour market in terms of job security may have reinforced this inter-
dependency between household members.

2.3 EDUCATION   AND                    TRAINING        SYSTEMS:         POOR

If the level of schooling of the Portuguese is generally low, the level in
SMP, in particular, is even lower. In 1991, 23% of the population had not
been to school (children to the age of 5, however, are included in this
figure) and only 14% had attended middle school above the 6th grade
(normally completed at 12-13 years of age). The proportion of the
population that cannot read or write is one of the highest in the whole
Douro region, only exceeded by four other concelhos in the extreme east of
the region (close to the Spanish border) with a population much more aged
than that of SMP, and therefore with a higher expected rate of illiteracy.
There are substantial gender differences in the level of formal education 
it is worth noting that 2/3 of illiterates are women, or, to put it in a more
meaningful way, almost one fourth of women are illiterate and only about
one fifth attended more than four years of formal education.

              Table 2.6 - Schooling levels in SMP in 1991 (percentage)
               Number of
               years in school           Men         Women                Total
               0                         19.0            27.9             23.5
               1-4                       52.0            49.9             50.9
               5-6                       13.9             9.3             11.6
               7-12                      12.8            10.3             11.6
               >12                        2.3               2.5             2.4
              Illiteracy Rate*           12.8            23.8             18.5
              * Population over 10 years old that cannot read nor write
              Source: INE, 1991 Census

In SMP only the compulsory nine years of education is provided, in the
conventional three levels of schooling, called ciclos. This means that, in
order to complete the secondary phase of schooling, i.e. to compete for a
place in higher education, it is necessary to go to school in Régua, Vila
Real, or Lamego. In 1995/96, 1,054 students were registered in the
concelho's schools distributed in the following way:

                     Table 2.7 - School attendance in SMP, 1995/96
               Levels of schooling          Number of               Students
               (school years)                 students              Per Year
               Cycle I: 1-4                          539                    135
               Cycle II: 5-6                         222                    111
               Cycle III: 7-9                        193                     98
               Total                                1,054                   117
              Source: INE, Annual Statistics 1998

Student attendance declines significantly from the primary to the middle to
the secondary phase of school, which means that before compulsory
schooling is completed, many students will have dropped out due to
persistent failure to pass the minimum required courses to complete the
academic year. Failure rates in primary school were, in the 1991/92
academic year, 44% in SMP, compared to an average of 23% for Douro
and 26% for the Norte NUT. On the other hand, the failure rates in the 5th
and 6th grades (second cycle) were significantly lower, and very similar –
in the range of 12% to 14% – at all territorial levels,.

Global data from SMP‘s single secondary school, which have recently been
collected 12, indicate that in the last two decades (1980-2000) nearly 10% of
those who have completed the 9th year do not register in the 10th grade in
the academic year immediately following (Table 2.8.). Among those who
do go on, a limited number of students attend the so-called ensino técnico-

profissional (hereafter designated as professional education). This type of
education is rather popular among students in their late teens for a number
of good reasons: it is more vocational and practice-oriented and therefore
easier to attend. Moreover it provides direct financial support to the
students involved. Both the key informants and the institutional actors
corroborated the popularity of these courses and consider students‘
performance to be generally good. However, the number of students
attending these type of schools is low. Indeed, the number of ―professional‖
students out of the total of equivalent secondary school students (10th –
12th grade) is the second lowest in the Northern Region 13.
Two key informants who are teachers in the secondary school of SMP felt
that the drop out after the compulsory education level (9th/10th grade)
results to a large extent from the limited income of rural households. Since
continuing students have to travel to Vila Real or Régua, there are
additional expenses both in terms of books, stationary, other equipment, as
well as increased transport and food costs. At this age, too, the demand for
and the cost of appropriate i.e. fashionable, clothing may also imply a
substantial drain on family incomes.

Table 2.8 - Number of students on the 9th year and 10th year (SMP school and elsewhere)
                       Registered in the      Completed the         Registered in the
                       9th year (SMP)         9th year (SMP)           10th year
   Periods                Nº         %           Nº       %            Nº         %
   1980/81 - 1984/85      186         100         137       73.7        130     94.9
   1985/86 - 1989/90      258         100         185       71.7        156     84.3
   1990/91 - 1994/95      413         100         353       85.5        318     90.1
   1995/96 - 1999/00      394         100         333       84.5        305     91.6
   Total               1,251          100       1,008       80.6        909     90.2
  Source: The management co mmittee of the SMP secondary school, 2000

With SMP being a rather poor area, families with economic difficulties are
common. Children of such families may benefit from state grants during
compulsory education, but not for the 10th – 12th grade pre-university
years. The data collected in the SMP secondary school show that nearly 3/4
of the total students enrolled there are beneficiaries of such grants. Those
who get the higher levels of financial support amount to over 2/3.

                 Table 2.9 - Social support in the academic year 1999-2000
                                                                    Total Students
                   Students wi th                                      benefiting
   Cycles in         no soci al        Type A           Type B        from soci al      Total of
   secondary          support         Students         Students         support         Students
   education         Nº       %      Nº       %       Nº       %      Nº       %       Nº       %
   Cycle II           36    19.8     137    75.3       9     4.9      146    80.2       182     100
   Cycle III          64    26.2     167    68.5      13     5.3      180    73.8       244     100
   Total             100    23.5     304    71.3      22     5.2      326    76.5       426     100
  Source: The management committee of the SMP second ary school, 2000. Note: Type A
  students are those most in need of social support. Their expenses with food, transport and
  books are financially supported. Type B students have some of their costs partially financed.

With regard to professional training, in the Douro there are many
organisations and numerous different types of courses supplied. First, there
are two basic types of governmental training courses: cursos de
aprendizagem em alternância (―rotational learning‖ between Job Centre
and enterprises) and cursos de qualificação (―qualification courses‖). The
former lasts for three years and if the trainee succeeds, then he/she may get
the equivalence to the 9th or 12th grade of the secondary school, depending
upon his/her formal level of education at the entrance of the training period.
The trainees also benefit from a training grant. The second type lasts for
one year and a grant is also provided. This amounts to a little over the
national minimum wage. Both courses are usually provided in Vila Real
(Centro de Formação Profissional de Constantim).
The IEFP - Instituto do Emprego e da Formação Profissional (Institute for
Employment and Professional Training) associated with the IPJ - Instituto
Português da Juventude (Portuguese Youth Institute) also promotes
training courses in computing. NERVIR – Núcleo Empresarial de Vila Real
(the Entrepreneurial Association of the District of Vila Real) as well as
other entrepreneurial associations (e.g. ACIR, Associação Comercial e
Industrial da Régua) may also offer training courses for youth. Private
enterprises may be added to the list above. Just a few SMP youngsters
resorted to courses given by private firms, and complaints were raised in
the interviews on this issue: one of the interviewees attended one
computing course organised by a private firm where there was only one
computer for four youngsters. A further two respondents referred to a
particular case of fraud. They paid full course fees, but the lessons were
interrupted prematurely. No reimbursement was provided to them.

         Table 2.10 - Distribution of trainees resident in SMP in 1999, by gender
              Institutions     Type of Course                Male       Female
                               Rotational earning             13             8
                               Qualification                    4            5
              IEFP/IPJ         Computing                        7           14
              NERVIR           Computing                                     2
             Note: all courses occurred in Vila Real with the exception of the
             computing course administered by the IEFP/IPJ, which took place both in
             SMP and Vila Real

As to 1999 we have tried to sum up the total number of training courses
offered to youth from SMP by ―the main suppliers‖. The figures are shown
in Table 2.10, while in Table 2.11 we specify the designations of the IEFP

Table 2.11 - Distribution of trainees at the IEFP, by type of course and gender
    Type of Course           Course Designation                           Male         Female
                             Hairdressers                                                   2
                             Shop Employees                                                 1
                             Electronics Technicians                           3
                             Management and Accountancy
                             Technicians                                       2            1
    Rotational Learning      Hotel Receptionists                                            3
    (Centre/firms)           Cooks/chefs                                       1            1
                             Waiters                                           1
                             Computer Technicians                              2
                             Building trades electrician                       2
                             Automobile Mechanics                              1
                             Basic Metalwork Technicians                       1
                             Car Mechanic                                      1
                             Audio Video and TV Technicians                    2
                             Management and Accountancy
    Qualification            Technicians                                                    1
                             Automobile Spray Painter                          1
                             Educational Action                                             1
                             Community and Family Support                                   3

We will return to the issue of professional training later, but three general
points may be made now. In spite of the diversity of public and private
organisations involved in the ―business‖ of professional training, the
―menu‖ offered tends to be rather limited and irregular. Secretarial and
computing training predominate. Due to both these features and the
possible requirement that a ‗patron‘ may have to intervene on one‘s behalf,
access by SMP youth to the courses available seems particularly difficult,
at least from the viewpoint of those individually concerned. Finally, both
the adequacy and quality of the training provided calls for evaluation.


According to the 1991 Population Census, economic activity in SMP is
dominated by the primary sector, namely vineyard production. The figures
markedly differ from those relating to the Douro, where services tend to
dominate and depart even more from the situation characterising Northern
Portugal (see Table 2.12), well-known for the substantial industrial
concentration in its western (i.e. coastal) half.

Women‘s participation in SMP's economic activities (as conventionally
measured) is low, compared with the Northern region. It can be seen from
Table 2.12 that their participation is lower than that of men in all sectors of
activity, with their absence being even more marked in manufacturing,
which means in addition to this sector being of minimal importance in the
study area, the employment it creates is essentially masculine.

                  Table 2.12 - Economic activity by sector in 1991 (percent)

                                                               SMP    Douro    North
  Economic activity by Sector
          Primary                                              47.4    35.0     10.6
             Secondary                                         20.7    21.3     49.4
             Tertiary                                          31.9    43.7     40.0
  Sectoral share of female economic activity (a)               28.2    34.1     41.8
             Primary                                           24.7    26.2     38.8
             Secondary                                         12.4    12.2     37.6
             Tertiary                                          38.4    37.6     46.2
 (a) (Nº of economically act ive wo men / Active Pop.) x 100
 Source: INE 1991 Census

As already mentioned, land-use is dominated by agriculture, with 60% of
the area of the concelho being land of agricultural potential, 76% of which
is currently in production, resulting in a level of agricultural land-use of
45% of the area of the concelho, a figure which exceeds the average for the
Douro NUT as a whole (37.5%) (1989 data). It is important to note that
85% of SMP's agricultural land consists of long-established vineyards,
planted on narrow terraces (socalcos) typically on very steep terrain.
Terraced valleys are a characteristic feature of this region and, in addition
to the Port produced from the grapes grown in the region, constitute an
important part of the region‘s value and potential as a tourist attraction.
SMP, in particular in its south-eastern freguesias (parishes), has the largest
concentration of vineyards in the zone best known for its production of
grapes for Port wine. The diversification of the SMP wine production,

particularly into other high quality table wines, has been developed,
particularly over the last decade. Obviously, this has important
consequences for the structure of the economically active population.

Thus, it is not surprising that in SMP the ―big employer‖ is represented by
the Wine Co-operative (the official name is Caves Santa Marta), which
groups together three wine processing plants located respectively in SMP,
Mondrões and Cumieira. The membership amounts to nearly 2400
associates and, in 1999, the sales volume was around ¤16 million. The
number of permanent employees of the Wine Co-operative totals 84
individuals and during the annual harvest almost the same amount of
people again are contracted as wage-workers. In brief, the SMP wine co-
operative figures as the biggest enterprise of the Vila Real District 14.
Locally, the Council is perceived as the second largest source of
employment, but the direct contracting of permanent employees is
obviously very limited. Six of these posts (4 administrative auxiliary staff
and 2 general services) were created recently and the competitive
―stampede‖ for places, in which more than 100 people applied for these
posts, attracted much notice and comment. Empreiteiros (small scale
entrepreneurs) may recruit wage workers for construction, viticulture and
the felling of pine trees, but these job opportunities are relatively uncertain.
Often, these labourers come from the more distant highland areas.
Obviously, in SMP there are also the self-employed, with their workshops
and retail outlets, as well as those employed in small-scale enterprises, such
as cafés. Any outside observer becomes immediately conscious of the
family nature and atmosphere of all these petty businesses. A café waiter
interviewed, usually plays cards with his boss and another respondent, a
kiosk counter girl, pictured her work relationships as follows:
     It is as if I was more the boss than the employee, so to speak.
                                                  Zulmira, 22 years old

At the local level, the data collected about the occupational status of the
respondents‘ parents (Table 2.13) is consistent with the general picture
shown above, in spite of the way in which the sample was constituted.
Retired people plus those involved in housekeeping, manual jobs, and
farming account for almost 2/3 of the total.
The local labour market is extremely limited in supplying stable work
places and it should be stressed that, in the local psyche and culture, the
idea that clientelism, patronage or ‗partisanship‘ is part and parcel of
accessing to a job is deeply rooted. A key informant referred to this

ingrained notion as follows:

     The significance of ‗cunha15‘[influence, ―jobs for the boys‖] – at
     least in psychological terms – is that, people, including young
     people, have got it into their heads that you won‘t get anywhere
     in life without ‗knowing someone‘, and that this applies to all
     aspects of Portuguese society. It‘s bound to have an effect on the
     way people operate.

Obviously, patrons may be scarce too, and their positions and lobbying
power is variable, but practically all respondents underlined their crucial
function in the process of getting a job. Indeed, out of 46 youngsters, only
three of them [(22) (35) (44)] were sceptical about patrons‘ effective
influence, but it is also worth mentioning that a further three interviewees
[(08) (09) (25)] suggested that this well-established practice, along with the
general perception that it plays a key role, is on the increase. Undoubtedly,
to pull a few strings to find a job is normal – more and more so.

            Table 2.13 - Occupational status of SMP respondent‟s parents
                  Type of occupation             Father      Mother
                  Housekeeping                        -          21
                  Unskilled manual                    8           7
                  Self-employed                       9           3
                  Skilled manual                      6           1
                  Farmer                              3           3
                  Retired                             1           5
                  Service job                         4           1
                  Desk worker                         1           2
                  Employed (travelling)               3           -
                  Supervisor                          2           -
                  Business                            2           -
                  Middle management                   -           1
                  Unemployed                          1           1
                  n.a.*                               6           1
                  Total                              40          45
                 *Note: Deceased (most of the cases) or unknown.
                 Source: Fieldwork interviews, SMP, 1999-2000


At the end of 1997 2,623 pensioners were registered in SMP,
corresponding to almost 27% of the resident population, a figure close to
that of the Douro as a whole, and significantly higher than that of the
Northern region (Table 2.14).

                     Table 2.14 - Pensioners and pension levels (1997)

                                                      SMP        Douro     North
     Pensioners as % of resident population            26.8         26.5    21.4
     Annual Average Pension (Euro)                    1,702       1,752    2,113
     Source: INE, Annual Statistics 1998

In recent years (1995-97) the number of pensioners in SMP has decreased
slightly (1% per year), which means that the number of pensioners that die
is not fully compensated for by the number of people who become eligible
for pensions.

The so-called ―poverty pensions‖ received by the elderly in Portugal are a
serious problem yet to be seriously tackled and, in areas where peasants
and agricultural workers still constitute the majority or a significant part of
the population, the elderly typically "enjoy" a truly miserable quality of
life. Furthermore, in the study area, due to the low levels of contributions in
both agricultural wage employment and small scale farming, the average
pension is 20% lower than those received, on average, in the Northern
region as a whole, making SMP, in this respect, one of the worst concelhos
in the Douro region. These circumstances may reinforce some youngsters‘
practices, such as the sharing of their own income and their provision of
―social services‖ to the old parents. We have alluded to those practices
above and we will turn to them below.
In Portugal, the GMI was designed to promote the social inclusion of the
poorest among the poor and it has only recently been implemented. It
presupposes a sort of a ―negotiated contract‖ between the benefit-receiving
family and the social services, in order to achieve the goal of social
inclusion. The resumption of schooling or training, for instance, may be
proposed to family members. In SMP, this social policy measure covers
nearly 6% of resident families, benefiting nearly 500 individuals (Table
2.15). At the Vila Real District level, SMP occupies an almost average

                 Table 2.15 - Beneficiaries of GMI in the District of Vila Real
                                                 Beneficiaries of GMI(2)                      % of family
                              Total             Nº of                           Nº of          benefiting
                           resident           family           Nº of       people per           from the
Concelhos                families(1)            units         people      family unit                GMI
Alijó                         4426               211             656              3.1                4.8
Boticas                       2161               281             714              2.5               13.0
Chaves                      11,153               757           2,164              2.9                6.8
Mesão Frio                    1405               178             530              3.0               12.7
Mondim Basto                  2190               220             669              3.0               10.0
Montalegre                    4175               204             532              2.6                4.9
Murça                         1984               150             485              3.2                7.6
Peso da Régua                 5488               516           1,613              3.1                9.4
Ribeira de Pena               2116               287             798              2.8               13.6
Sabrosa                       2045               121             376              3.1                5.9
SMP                           2609               153             479              3.1                5.9
Valpaços                      6088               602           1,669              2.8                9.9
V. P. Aguiar                  4501               359           1,036              2.9                8.0
Vila Real                   12,190               521           1,528              2.9                4.3
Total                       62,531             4,560          13,249              2.9                7.3
(1) Source: INE, Population Census, 1991.
(2) Source: Centro Regional de Segurança Social Norte, Serv iço Sub -reg ional de Vila Real

Our sample did not include any young people benefiting from the GMI, but
after the fieldwork had been completed, one girl that had been interviewed
became a beneficiary of this policy measure. Her occupational training
programme ended in December, 1999, and in March, 2000, she started to
receive a grant of approximately ¤ 60. By July, 2000 the grant had grown
to nearly ¤ 140. As part of the mentioned social inclusion contract she will
attend a childcare training course, which will take place only next year.

According to one of our key informants, a social worker knowledgeable
about the implementation of the GMI, this measure has allowed the
satisfaction of ―the most basic needs‖ of the SMP concerned families. She
also associated some of these families with problems of alcoholism – both
among parents and youngsters. This factor obviously undermines both
family harmony and youngsters‘ upbringing. It is not rare to hear people
expressing fear with regard to young people‘s education due to their
parents‘ or their own alcohol abuse.
As mentioned above, children and youth of families with economic
difficulties (not necessarily receiving the GMI) receive social support for
the period of compulsory education. It is also worth passing on an

observation made by one of our key informants, a SMP secondary school
teacher: many parents send their youngsters to school even when they are
ill, because they are sure that the school personnel will deal with the
problem, gaining faster access to the medical centre than otherwise would
have been the case.

2.6 PURCHASING POWER                 AND      CULTURAL         SERVICES:

Portugal‘s National Statistical Office constructs a Purchasing Power Index
for the concelho level, using a set of variables relating to wealth creation,
consumption and living conditions. According to the latest published
figures, which refer to the situation in 1995, SMP was among the 20
poorest of all 305 Portuguese concelhos. Compared to the Portuguese
average (100), SMP had an index of 36, and the averages for the Douro and
the Northern region were of 51 and 83, respectively. These figures
eloquently describe the poor standard of living of most families in the
concelho: clearly, SMP can count itself among the poorest of the poor in
With regard to living conditions, which may have improved to a certain
extent since the data were published, some indicators may be provided: in
1991, 96% of the families had electricity in their homes but only 73% had
water supplied by public services. Sanitation provided by the public sector
was very limited: only 21% of the families had access to this service 16.

The data concerning the youth interviewed (16 to 25 years old) is obviously
of a very specific nature, but it helps to underline the poor economic
conditions existing at the local level. Respondents were asked to state their
monthly income before tax. First, there are 10 people who have no income:
five full-time students and five of the unemployed people. There is only a
case of someone earning more than ¤ 600, while the majority (amounting to
24 individuals) classify themselves in the ¤ 300-600 band. Eleven people
earn less than € 300, 5 of whom are unemployed, 5 have a service job and
the other one is an unskilled manual worker. It should be noted that people
in this band earn less than the minimum legal wage and women are
particularly disadvantaged in this respect, since half of the females
interviewed receive wages below the national minimum wage.

            Table 2.16 - Monthly Income (before tax) in Euros, by gender
                    Class of income            Male      Female
                    No income                     8           2
                    Under €300                               11
                    €300 - 599                    13         11
                    €600 - 1049                    1
                    Total                         22              24
                   Source: Fieldwork interviews, SMP, 1999-2000

Regarding the receipt of financial support or other benefits from any entity,
35 respondents admitted receiving support from the family and 10 from
their employers (all of whom work in service jobs). None of the
respondents was in receipt of financial aid from the Government or from
Among the local youngsters there is the general perception that the area of
SMP is beautiful, peaceful and a nice place to live, but that you cannot rely
on scenery for a living. Despite these natural amenities and the reduced
income of the youngsters of SMP, most of them feel the need to have
access to some services, particularly those related to cultural activities,
such as cinema, theatre, clubs, bars, discos, etc., which are missing locally
and only available in nearby cities (Vila Real and Lamego). When
questioned about how they spend their spare time in SMP the main answer
is ―doing nothing!‖ or ―here there are only cafés‖. This first answer is
common not only with young people from rural areas but also with those
from urban areas. In fact, a study undertaken by Pais (1996) with young
people from an urban area, provides this same answer ―Doing nothing
represents one of the main characteristics of youth culture. Thus, to speak,
to talk, to be with friends simply for the pleasure of their company,
represents one of the most common forms of ―doing nothing‖.
Nevertheless, some interviewees feel that young people from other cities
have opportunities that they do not, a disadvantage that influences their
own lives. In the second focus groups we listened to a discussion on what
should be done in SMP to provide more ‗spare time‘ facilities for young
people. The main reaction was that in SMP the only existing facilities are
cafés, which, after a while bores youngsters. Most of the youth feel the
need for a disco, or a bar where they can go and hang out with their friends.
They usually need to go to the nearby urban centres to meet this social
need. Thus, they are aware that other youngsters have greater access to
cultural facilities. As Rosa (09) put it

     In Porto, there is everything and even more; here we have
     nothing. That‘s the way it is. We have nothing. We are poor
     relatives. This is why they say that we are ―mócótós‖
     colloquial Portuguese to express the idea of someone who
     understands/knows nothing and they are right, in a way.
     Because we want to go to the cinema, or we go to Vila Real or
     we go to Lamego. It is very far away. At night it is not possible.
     The roads are also not so good. To the theatre... I don‘t even
     know where it is. (...) For shopping I have to go to Régua or
     Vila Real, but there isn‘t much there either.

The main argument against the existence in SMP of a disco or night bar is
the scarcity of land on which to build. It is worth noting that most of the
land is used for vineyards, which means that it constitutes part of the
―national agricultural reserve‖ and therefore cannot be constructed on.
Young people are aware of this ―national‖ limitation but still mention that
there are available buildings that easily could be adapted to become a
convivial place for youth to meet. The feeling they have regarding this lack
of facilities is that adults, in general, are not happy with the establishment
of a disco in SMP, due essentially to the noise created. Even though young
people mentioned the lack of social and cultural facilities as a disadvantage
of living in SMP, the problem is somewhat minimised due to the fairly
ready access they have to vehicles.


The participation of the youth in SMP‘s politics is dealt with later, and it is
quite legitimately presented as a paradox. However, in the present chapter
it is appropriate to present a few key features on politics, both at the
national and local level.

It is worth noting that, in Portugal, political participation is essentially
reduced to the local and national level. This is so because there are no
regional parliaments, except in the cases of the autonomous island regions
of Madeira and the Azores. In SMP, the local elections attract higher levels
of popular participation than the parliamentary (i.e. national) ones. Some
figures 17 illustrate this point: the percentage of voters in the parliamentary
elections of 1991, 1995 and 1999 was 66%, 64%, 59%, respectively, while
the percentage of voters in 1993 and 1997 for the local elections was 73%
and 74%.
These data may be interpreted as a sign of what is usually seen as common
knowledge: local politics is much more candidate- or person-centred and/or

territory-based than the national politics. In other words, ideology would
seem to be relatively less valued at the local level. Indeed, ‗familism‘,
‗partisanship‘ and clientelism would have greater value and significance.
This is also the view of one of our key-informants, a priest, who referred to
local political membership in these terms:

   The type of ‗cunha‘ that operates here along political lines is a bit
   like helping out someone who supports the same football team. So
   people are inclined to help more out of shared local allegiances than
   out of any sort of real ideological solidarity‖.
Another prominent feature of the local politics is the reinforcement of the
political duality. That is, the smallest parties get lower representation at the
local elections as compared to their local position at the national level
elections. For example, the two parties at the extremes of the political
spectrum (CDS, the Social Democratic Centre and PCP, the Portuguese
Communist Party) received in SMP respectively 3,4% and 1,7% of the
votes (1993) and 0,7% and 0,7 of the votes (1997), while their quota in the
parliamentary elections of 1991, 1995 and 1999 was respectively 4,3%,
5,1%, 4,4% (CDS) and 2,0%, 1,6%, 1,6% (PCP).

Finally, it should be said that in SMP the PS (the Socialist Party) is in
office, and has been since 1989, that is, it has been in power for more than
one decade. The number of municipal mandates held by the main parties
has been roughly balanced throughout time: so far, three for the Socialist
Party and two for the PSD (the Social Democratic Party).

                                Chapter 3
    Santa Marta de Penaguião: six local paradoxes


One of the first and principal paradoxes that emerges from the research
work may be expressed in these terms: on the one hand, viticulture is a
predominant trait of the local economy; on the other hand, youth do not
perceive it either as an attractive business to enter, nor as an interesting
employment opportunity. This is an uncontroversial issue, fully and
emphatically recognised by key-informants, and by both male and female
interviewees, for instance: (12) (14) (15) (28) (31) (34) (35) (38) (40) (42)
(44). Rui (15), one of these male youngsters, summed up the point as

     You may perhaps work a few days to earn some pocket money,
     or to purchase something you really want [e.g. a small
     motorbike]. Today, nobody likes farm work. Nobody wants to
     do this type of work. There‘s no future for anyone in vineyards.

For a very limited number of cases, this general statement has to be
qualified somewhat. Only one respondent (11), who had received specific
training in farming in the vocational stream of secondary education
(provided by the Rodo School, in nearby Régua), spontaneously expressed
any appreciation of viticulture. However, he has a junior administrative
position in the Local Council, and when pressed, he failed to clarify his
views much further. When it was suggested that he was perhaps the first
interviewee to mention any pleasure derived from working in the
vineyards, he replied

     I like the vineyards, but wait a minute — for me, it‘s different. I
     like the vineyards because I go there at the weekend, from time
     to time. Maybe, if the vineyard were my whole life, I wouldn‘t
     like it so much. If it‘s raining I don‘t go, and if it‘s too hot I
     don‘t go either. You know… I do like the vineyard, but …
All the views mentioned above are also fully consistent with the behaviour
of two respondents [(25) (40)] who participated recently in Young Farmer
training courses. The first gave up after a month. The second applied

himself to what he really likes doing: felling trees in the forest. He
perceived the farmer training as a favour to his parents and to his brother.
His failure to participate would have meant that a viticulture project
submitted by his father, attracting a handsome subsidy, would not have
been accepted, and the development of the family vineyard would have
been foregone.
Although the physical landscape as well as the local economic scene is
totally dominated by both vineyard and wine production activities,
respondents as well as their friends and relatives tended to define a better
future in terms of completely different jobs: for example, that of a
veterinary surgeon (27), wood dealer (40), draughtsman (02), designer or
radio announcer (23), dressmaker [(37, 43)], military service [(16) (20) (21)
(22) (26)], child care [(07) (17) (18) (20)], nursing [(24, 26)], or shop
assistant [(01) (25) (31) (33) (44)]. This is not to say that most of the
interviewees are unfamiliar with viticulture or related activities. Indeed,
they have typically provided some help during the summer holidays and
particularly during the grape harvest, particularly in the local wine-
processing units such as the SMP Wine Co-operative [(25) (29) (30) (41)].
Moreover, the Co-operative is seen as on of the main local employers and
some youngsters acknowledge that it is even the symbol of Santa Marta,
because of the widespread recognition of the high quality of its wines.
Nevertheless, a rather common view was well expressed by Luzia (20):

     Santa Marta is a hole. We are surrounded by vines. Vineyards,
     vineyards and more vineyards. There are very few employment
     opportunities here, and those that do become available are
     somehow already taken.

Several reasons contribute to the explanation of the supply-demand
mismatch to which Luzia refers. First of all, broadly speaking, youth know
very little about how to cultivate and manage vineyards properly. In
general, they were neither socialised nor trained for such work. Secondly,
youth have no, or no interest in, viticulture. It is seen as a possible source
of ―work‖, but not ―employment‖, and certainly not ―good employment‖.
More specifically, vineyards only offer very hard, unpleasant, irregular and
under-paid work.
Today, in SMP, a permanent farm wage worker will get around 2400
escudos (under €12) per day, for a 5-day week, plus the minimum social
benefits, while day labourers will get between 3500-4000 escudos (€17-20)
and women 3000-3500 escudos (€15-17). Some permanent farm wage
workers [.e.g. (42)] may increase their income a little by doing overtime on
their Saturdays off, paid better at 5000 – 6000 escudos per day (€25-30).

The grape harvests sometimes makes for higher daily wages: for instance,
in 1999, Luisa (45) received 7500 escudos (€37). In brief, farm work is low
paid work, with wages typically being equal to the national minimum wage
(60,000 escudos/month, or a little under €300). The low wage, and
workers‘ consequent inability to paying social security contributions, and
the irregular character of farm work, clearly justify why Rita (44), a
married woman who works on several quintas (big Porto vineyards and
wineries) as a casual wage labourer, considers herself as being long-term
unemployed, and why she has been registered for several years at the Job
Centre as seeking work.
Farm work is also seen as being undifferentiated throughout one‘s working
life, thus offering no career prospects. The rigours of farm labour are a hard
fact, eloquently expressed in the vineyards‘ rough paths, steep and stony
slopes, the backbreaking grape harvesting baskets and the need to work
whatever the weather. Hardship may be reinforced by local culture, since
lighter tasks such as the cutting of grapes are not expected to be performed
by men. Construction work is also hard but, compared to farm work is
favoured by a good set of conditions, as Sebastião (14) remarked: many
tasks are performed under cover, the work hours are more fixed, there is
work regularly throughout the year, and some sort of career progression is
possible (e.g. from a mason‘s apprentice to a building contractor or
construction entrepreneur).

Moreover, young people are understandably not inclined towards an
economic activity that is devalued everywhere and by everyone: parents,
both small landowners and former farm labourers push their sons into off-
farm occupations; school tends to ignore local contexts and activities; TV
more or less openly suggests that farming has already vanished. The low
social prestige attached to farming is further reinforced if one‘s role is that
of a wage worker. This is no wonder, since the community‘s collective
memory stresses the past struggle to find even poorly paid work: often
payment amounted to little more than a bowl of soup, and a sardine on a
piece of bread. As one of the key-informants put it:
     In fact, work in the vineyards was terrible, awful (...). No
     wonder vineyards were seen through a sardine head.
Surely, the old times are over: no longer the sardine head represents the
remains of a miserable wage paid in kind. Situations unimaginable in the
past can be frequently seen today – such as the farm wage worker arriving
at the vineyard in his own (second-hand) car, carrying his own mobile
phone. Social relationships have also changed profoundly. As another
participant in the third focus group put it:

     It is tremendously difficult today to hire wage labourers for the
     vineyards. Landowners have to give them full and proper
     respect (...) otherwise, they run the risk of having no workers at
     all the next day or for the whole of the following week.
In spite of both the social change SMP has undergone over the last three
decades, and the currently good results and prospects of the wine business,
the collective memory remains vivid and resilient. Nowadays, in SMP,
vineyard work is still presented as a ―punishment‖, particularly appropriate
for those who fail at school. Most boys and girls wish to escape from it, but
even though it may be used as a threat, we were also told that many
mothers could not conceive of their daughters suffering such a punishment.
Ana (18), a currently unemployed young woman from ―outside‖, married
into a Santa Marta family and when she showed willingness to do farm
work, was prevented by her husband. Both the status of her husband and of
her father-in-law, locally considered a ―rich man‖, would have been deeply
injured. Inês (05), a 23-year-old daughter of a well-off construction
contractor stressed unequivocally this same point when she referred to her
―shame‖ at having worked in the family vineyards when she was teenager.

Some informants who are involved to a certain extent in viticulture and
may inherit vineyards at some distant point in the future, suggested that
they could imagine a number of options with regard to this potential
inheritance: to sell their share to other heirs and/or other interested parties;
to continue farming as a part-time activity; or a combination of these
possibilities. However, due to several factors, mainly the small size of
many farms, viticulture tends to be perceived as an unattractive business.
This appears to be so even among the three male interviewees who have
received specific training in farming at secondary vocational level. One of
them (11) has an administrative job with the Local Council, the second (38)
wanted to be a forest ranger, and the third (41) hopes to become a
policeman, or a sports teacher, after completing his military service. Paulo
(26), a 17-year-old male student, who appeared familiar with the operation
of financial markets, mentioned that these surely offer better opportunities
for raising money much more rapidly than wine production. He sees
himself as a future policeman, or nurse, but certainly not a part-time
farmer. He also admitted the possibility of investing the money from the
future sale of any land he inherits in the stock market. Girls also seem
ready to sell the land they will inherit. Lúcia (23), for example, said:

     My mother inherited vineyards, but I wouldn‘t want to look
     after them myself. Absolutely not. So, I am already dropping
     hints to my parents so that they don‘t harbour any illusions
     about it.

So, it may be concluded that youngsters‘ views, words and deeds
concerning the future of the Douro contrast sharply with the discourse and
actions of well-off adults, who stress the beauty, wealth and economic
potential of the region. In reality, young people still living in SMP believe
that vineyards hold no future for anyone.


This research work provided us with a second paradox. On the one hand,
adults value education highly: parents, teachers, politicians, etc.,
recommend it both for its own sake and the advantages it affords young
people. School attendance is generally presented as something positive and
worthwhile for the future. In Portugal, this societal value is now
sufficiently strong to have made 9 years of schooling compulsory, and to
place the eradication of premature withdrawal from school among the most
uncontroversial of policy targets. On the other hand, the school system
seems to suffer from severe difficulties. A relatively significant rate of
school failure and premature leaving has been observed. Our research also
suggests strongly that, in many cases, school has been unable to detect not
only interviewees‘ own personal and social abilities and skills, but also
their dreams and ambitions with regard to their future careers. Locally,
specific counselling and professional guidance has been practically non-
existent and so it is no wonder that young people had difficulty articulating
many positive factors concerning their education, or education in general.

We will turn later to the issues of academic failure (i.e. repeating of the
academic year) and young people‘s lack of a clear sense of career plan or
vocational direction but, we can confirm that in SMP, like elsewhere in
Portugal18, there is a relatively large proportion of youngsters that drop out
of school, some even without completing the compulsory education. Of the
46 youngsters interviewed, two [(01) (10)] left school without completing
the 6th year of what was, until 1986/87, compulsory education, one of them
having successfully ‗graduated‘ via evening classes; another two [(07)
(27)] left school before completing the (now compulsory) 9th year of
education. Nearly 30% of those who had left school had not completed the
last level of education for which they had been registered.

We may recall the global data from SMP‘s single secondary school, which
have recently been collected, indicating that in the period 1980-2000 nearly
10% of those who have completed the 9th year do not re-register in the
10th grade classes in the academic year immediately following (see Table

2.8). It is also common knowledge that a considerable number of students
of the 3rd cycle of the secondary school drop out (many have to change
school and/or place of residence, see below) or interrupt their studies.
Among the interviewees who have pursued further education beyond the
9th year, several [(15) (29) (40) (46)] reflected these trends.

It should be stressed that, regardless of the exit door used for leaving the
school system, young people have usually faced relatively firm opposition
from their parents, even when the family is faced with economic
difficulties. In practically all cases, it was the son‘s or daughter‘s own
wishes that won. They used various strategies to overcome their parents‘
opposition: some resisted studying and gave up schooling as soon as they
reached formal adult status (18 years); Elsa (19), for instance, followed a
more drastic path: she achieved academic failure by absenting herself from
class, a deliberate case of misbehaviour. The observation that there are
youngsters that strongly wish to leave school prematurely, goes against the
conventional view that a considerable number of ―rural‖ parents have never
bothered much about their kids‘ schooling, or, even worse, that they
encouraged or even required them to leave early. Only two school leavers
could be included in this latter category [(01) (10)].
Several reasons may explain dropping out. First of all, there are the
unexpected events. One dramatic case affected Mário (16): he witnessed
the drowning of a very close classmate and her girlfriend in the river, after
which he was unable to resume lessons. Premature school leaving may be
explained by other unexpected events, particularly those associated with
economic difficulties. These, plus a father‘s death, a mother‘s illness and
an undesired pregnancy, for instance, explained why several respondents
[(33) (42) (44) (18)] left school. Obviously, s ituations of this type always
cause disturbance on home atmosphere and the family budget, this impact
being particularly severe among poor households. Some youth from low-
income families (large families, for instance) also dropped out of school
prematurely (10), or very early (13), or before higher education, because
they felt that the time to help the family had arrived. This was the case of
Luzia (20) and her sister. It is worth noting that the Government provides
grants to children with economic difficulties, but only during compulsory
education. After that, i.e. during the 10th to 12th grades – the crucial period
prior to higher education entry, parents have to support all education costs,
consisting mainly of books, transport (secondary school) and also fees
Dissatisfaction with school feeds low motivation to study, which is also a
very powerful lever in the abandonment of formal education, and this
feeling emerged rather extensively among the respondents. Of a total of 46,

more than half expressed some form of dissatisfaction with the studies they
had pursued and/or the school they had attended. The statements were also
relatively emphatic and varied, that is, the dissatisfaction was expressed in
quite different forms. The quotations presented below show how emphatic
respondents complaints can be:

     I left school when I was 11 or 12 years old. I completed the 4th
     grade. […] I never wanted to enrol myself in the 2nd cycle. I
     wanted to work but wasn‘t old enough, so I stayed at home. […]
     I didn‘t like school. I had thought of trying to finish the 4th
     year, but I started to have problem getting on with the teachers
     and from then on, I never wanted to continue.

                                             Guida (27), 16 years old
     […] I finished 6th grade, but at evening classes. I never liked
     school. Never. [Question: Can you see yourself resuming
     studies in the future?]. No, no way.
                                               Olga (01), 20 years old

     I did not finish 7th grade. I didn‘t want to study any longer.
     Honestly, I hated studying. If I had to choose again, I‘d do the
                                               Elsa (19), 24 years old

     I completed 12th grade, but since the 9th I was only at school
     because my parents made me stay on. I was too young and I
     could not stay at home doing nothing. I was really fed up with
     studying. I had no great desire to go on, so I had no interest in
     the classes. Then I stopped.
                                            Marília (17), 21 years old

It seems that to move from one school and or place to another feeds both
students‘ dissatisfaction and compounds their difficulties. The mobility of
students occurs in two situations:

   a)    children that come from the smaller villages attend 4 years of
         primary school there, and then commute to SMP when they are
         around 10-11 years old, when they begin the second (2 year)
         cycle of compulsory education;

   b)    youngsters interested in further secondary education (3 years,
         from the 10th to the 12th grade) register in schools in nearby

         urban centres, Régua and Vila Real, or more rarely Lamego.

The Portuguese education system requires that after the compulsory 9th
grade, students must choose specialise, that is, choose between certain
―scientific areas‖, which are not always available in all schools. Thus, it
may happen that in a specific academic year, one of those areas may exist,
for instance, in Lamego, but neither in Vila Real nor in Régua. Note,
however, that since Régua and Vila Real are geographically close to SMP,
young people from low-income families do not go to study elsewhere, even
if their desired specialist area of study is not available in these two cities.
Most youth from SMP prefer to study in Régua, essentially due to the
existence of more transport facilities. Indeed, the option of attending school
in Lamego is rare.
For some young people, changing to a school outside SMP constituted an
extra pressure in terms of new daily routines, making new friends and
adapting to a larger, unfamiliar and more competitive school environment.
If this situation is associated with an inadequate selection of the educational
stream to be followed (either by mistake, or by non-availability of a given
specialisation), the youngster may feel him/herself lost, and the
prerequisites for dropping out are in place. Inês (05), for instance, recalled
her unhappy experience of changing school in following terms:

     I didn‘t like the place where I had to live. I didn‘t like the [new]
     school, [... ]. It had nothing to do with me. I had always done
     sports at school, and I found myself in the biology lab, which
     did not appeal to me at all. I had to be still all the time.

The question of the proper selection of the educational stream to be
followed is a major one and it has to be linked to its specific context: not
only one‘s likes and dislikes as well as peers‘ influence, but also the lack of
vocational guidance. Indeed, several interviewees mentioned explicitly that
they had taken wrong educational branches [e.g. (12) (17) (32) (41)]. One
of them, had chosen her option by mates‘ pressure, thus corroborating the
view of a key informant, a female teacher of the secondary school of SMP.
She told us the following:
     They [the youngsters] choose their options by their colleagues,
     to go in group with friends and, then, the Humanities and
     Sciences, that division that is commonly made: the students that
     have more difficulties in Maths go to Humanities.
Under the circumstances mentioned above, or similar ones, no wonder that
some young people stop attending classes. Hanging out with friends,
particularly under less strict local social control, becomes much more

attractive than listening to teachers. Some of the respondents, particularly
those who participated in the first focus group, stressed that most teachers
were rather insensitive to this ―turning point‖ in students‘ lives. Inês (05),
again, is rather critical concerning the prevailing behaviour of teachers:
     The teachers should‘ve monitored students more, even though
     there were so many of us… My previous sports teachers
     provided psychological counselling. Most of the [other, new]
     teachers don‘t care about this sort of thing. If I didn‘t look my
     normal self, my previous teachers would notice, try to talk to
     me, as friends, while now the great majority of them don‘t seem
     concerned. They don‘t care whether you‘re happy or sad.

The interviewees of the first focus group also drew attention to other
questions, such as the problem of poorly skilled teachers, the high number
of courses and of teaching hours, inadequate evaluation exercises, and
uninteresting school programmes. Courses are perceived as being too
theoretical, not permitting students to learn subjects and skills that could
direct them to future employment. For example, according to Mário (16)
his teachers‘ words were directed ―at the ceiling‖ rather than the class, and
Luisa (45), a 18 year old girl who has for several years failed to complete
compulsory education (even though she has not yet dropped out), made this
     My timetable is 31 hours of just looking at the teacher. We
     never have a practical class to explain things ―Look, this is
     done this way, that is done that way‖ ... There is nothing of that
     sort, and 31 hours is time to do lots of things. And we do
     practically nothing.

In fact, Luisa‘s case is symptomatic of the need to design and implement an
alternative school system. She finds school inadequate to her needs: she
wants to be a hairdresser, and the courses she attends are of no use in
satisfying her dream. She found out through her family's friends that she
could do a 3-year vocational (hairdressing) course organised by the Job
Centre that would be equivalent to completing compulsory education. But
twice she failed to gain access to this course. She believes that it was lack
of cunha (influence, clientelism) that prevented her from getting on the
course. Thus, understandably, her motivation to study is quite low.

Two key informants corroborated the bookish nature of schooling. They
stated the following:

     There should be, after a certain point, a certain diversification
     for those students for whom the type of study [...] does not tell

     them anything. [...] Some of the things they are learning does
     not tell them anything for their lives [...] some time ago there
     were the so called Industrial Schools and Commercial Schools,
     with a more practical vision.
                                                         Priest of SMP

     Teaching is still very theoretical and they [the youngsters],
     more and more, want practical things.

                                    Teacher of SMP secondary school
Clearly, low motivation to study may lead to academic failure, but it is
essential to recognise that the reverse is also true. The data collected
provided some examples of this. The first experience of failing an
examination or failing to pass to the next year may also lead to dropping

     I failed only one examination [a national-level one], just one
     course, I was on the borderline. I reacted badly to that failure.
                                                Rosa (09), 20 years old

     For me it was strange, I had never failed, and I lost motivation.
                                                 Rui, (15), 20 years old

The number of repeats of the school year experienced by the SMP
interviewees is considerable, and this dramatic situation is fully consistent
with the qualitative data collected on the general attitude of the respondents
towards the schools they have attended. Taking into account the
interviewees‘ age and the grade achieved at the time of leaving school, we
have estimated the number of repeats of school year per respondent. About
1/4 of the youngsters experienced what we can only call a ―deadlock‖: two
extreme cases of interviewees, being ―kept down‖ 7 and 8 times
respectively [(31) (10)]; six cases with 5 failures each [(4) (5) (6) (18) (42)
(45)] and four others with 4 failures each [(7) (15) (16) (35)]. Only three
respondents [(26) (34) (44)] have experienced no failure at all over the
course of their school career. Among those who have completed the 9th
grade or less, the estimated average number of failures amounts to 3,3 per
interviewee. For the rest, who went beyond that level, the rate is 2,2. The
accumulation of repetitions of school years rapidly leads the youngsters to
the strong feeling that they are ―too old‖ to be in the school. Then, they see
themselves as reaching ―the working age‖, and, consequently leave the

The magnitude of these estimated results rules out any possibility of using
―the learning difficulties‖ of the people concerned as the sole or major
explanation of their academic failure and/or low motivation to study. The
quotations below, relating to the interviewees‘ demoralisation with the
apparent gap between their own capabilities and the demands placed on
them at school, may be no more than a posteriori rationalisations.
     I was not clever. I didn‘t have what it takes to study.

                                   Sandra (07), 4th grade, 16 years old
     Not everyone is capable of studying.

                                  Vitória (02), 7th grade, 21 years old
     I came to the conclusion that I should give up, as I did not have
     the abilities to go any further. I am very lazy.
                                     Elisa (22), 9th grade, 19 years old

In spite of what may be an improved situation nowadays 19, both the
qualitative and quantitative data suggest that, at least in the past, the SMP
schools have shown a lack of sensitivity to the general context (family and
peer influence, economic conditions, etc.) and the specific situation (e.g.
learning difficulties) in which their students find themselves. Very likely,
no effective remedial measures were taken. This hypothesis is consistent
with the view of a key informant, a teacher who has also management
responsibilities. In the third focus group he stated the following:
     The pupil is kept back and the next year he attends the same
     class. The school continues to offer him more of the same
     [programmes, methods, activities, etc. our emphasis] and he
     fails again to pass the year. After x years of eating the same
     dish [our emphasis], it‘s obvious he‘ll be saturated […] There
     are schools that have done wonderful work in recent years,
     satisfying the youngsters‘ needs. There are others that have
     found it more difficult to come to terms with the practical
     changes required of them, and therefore they‘ve keep on
     providing more of the same [our emphasis] perhaps in a
     disguised form. So, those who fail the year begin gradually to
     turn against school. […] School is unable to meet their
     youngsters‘ diverse needs. Very often school offers precisely
     what their youngsters don‘t want, just more of the same [again,
     our emphasis]. More of what runs counter to the youngster‘s
     concerns and ambitions. After a while, he gets fed up and

     rejects school.

In the pathway to (un)employment, obviously school has a strong
determining influence. Among the respondents who are currently in work,
in general we found an impressively wide gap between what they evoke as
their desired occupations and their current jobs, these latter being relatively
modest. While there are some youth who seem relatively uncertain about
their ―dream occupations‖ [for instance, (03) (08) (29)], a great number of
them are not. Among these, some are quite positive in their answers: cook
(10), teacher [(05) (09)], draughtsman (02), barman (25), nurse (28)
musician (30), bank employee (39), hairdresser (45), footballer (46). Some
of these youth are even doing ―reconnaissance work‖ in their proposed
professions, or have already attempted to put their foot on the first rung of
the occupational ladder [(05) (30) (39) (45) (46)], taking advantage of
occasional jobs in the holidays, or leisure hours.
A few interviewees are already doing or are well on the way to becoming
what they envisaged earlier in their lives and, therefore, they manifest
satisfaction regarding their current occupation [(31) (33) (37) (34, after a
period of unemployment)]. Some youngsters‘ answers about their
occupational ambitions are closely related to their current experience of
work. For instance, Dulce (13) works on the counter at a photographer‘s
shop and would like to become a photographer herself; Carlos (28), an
accountant, thinks of setting up his own enterprise in this field of work;
Elsa (19), who works as a receptionist in a dental clinic, stated that she
wishes to become a dentist. For Elsa this may be a case of over-ambition:
she still has a long way to go, amounting to 11 more years of studies, and a
difficult pathway to follow, since she has only got the 6th grade at present,
and stated that she had not enjoyed studying in the 7th year.
The evidence collected strongly suggests that school is the very first place
where youngsters come face to face with ―the hard and cruel reality‖ of
life. That is, it is there that some began a process of what we may call a
"downward revision" of their initial dream. We can visualise this as a
―ladder‖, with childhood fantasies at the top, subsequent dreams lower
down, current wishes and fair options lower still, until we reach the
subject‘s real occupation or profession at the bottom. Most young people
find this downward revision perfectly normal in the sense that they have to
adapt to the difficulties they encounter, and overcome them, even if this
means not realising, or even ceasing to pursue, their dreams. This sense of
being ―realistic‖, or ―pragmatic‖, seems to be rather widespread among the
people studied. The conversation between Lauro (41) [male, 20 years old]
and the interviewer, as well as other subsequent quotations, illustrates the

     [Question: Have the ideas you had about employment changed
     as time has gone by?‖] More or less. I don't know, maybe. [―But
     how?‖] I don't know really. Oh, yes. You start having difficulties
     at school and you say: Well, this is hard, I am no good in maths,
     so I can‘t get where I want to go. So that‘s it, we have to adapt
     and look at other alternatives [our emphasis].

Besides school, parents may influence, either openly or in a more subtle
way, both the temporary and permanent occupational choices of their
offspring. Interviewees mentioned this influence [e.g. (06) (27) (39) (40)],
which may not only change over time but also may exert itself in opposite
directions: either reinforcing the youngsters‘ ―career dream‖ or interim
occupation [e.g. (05) (31) (45)], or pressurising them into taking alternative
paths [e.g. (02) (22) (23)]. For example, Lucia (23) and Teresa (31), both
employed as counter assistants in family shops, are very distinct cases:
     At that time [of selecting a scientific area for further education]
     I had thought of taking Arts and Design. I wanted to but my
     mother wouldn‘t let me. She said ―Not Arts and Design – that‘s
     something for little fools‖. That‘s it, that‘s how she talked at the
     time. [Question: ―So, you felt a bit discouraged, or not?‖…]
     Yes, because I wasn‘t going to attend school any further [i.e.
     above the 6th grade] if I was going to have to take a course I
     didn‘t like. What for? Later I got used to the idea of working
     here [our emphasis]. At that time, you see, there was also a lack
     of information. Before the 9 th grade, the teachers didn‘t explain
     what‘s possible if you leave at the end of the year, and what the
     course options are in the meantime, all that sort of thing. No,
     we just trooped in, registered, and so the big decisions were
     made then and there. […]
     My father knew I liked this [being a shop assistant]. So, he
     enjoyed setting up the shop with me in mind, even though I have
     another sister. Anyway, he knew perfectly well that my dream
     has always been this […]. My childhood dream was to be
     behind a counter […] I like to welcome the clients […] What I
     do here is what I‘d always wanted to do.
The above-mentioned pragmatic attitude of accommodating oneself to the
current situation and the possible "downward revision" of the ―wish ladder‖
can not be disconnected from other relatively prevalent attitudes: the
attention youth pay, and the openness they display with regard to the job
opportunities offered by the local market, the predisposition to leave and
get a job elsewhere, and a gradualist, step-by-step approach to the

resolution of their problems. So, there is not a simple and definite
accommodation to situations. Youth may look at school-to-(un)employ-
ment pathways from various angles. Moreover, the youngsters seem to
adapt quite well to changes and difficulties without sacrificing their
personal identity. Inês (05) is a clear example of this. She likes sports and
would like to be a sports teacher and, even though at the present moment
she is working, she has not given up her dream. This young woman has set
up different paths on how to reconcile her dream with the circumstances
that she has encountered so far or may encounter in the future.

     I‘ve started working because I am not just going to sit around
     watching my parents support me until I finish my course. I have
     to do something. .... As I‘ve put off my [sports] course, I‘ll have
     to go in another direction, in the meantime, won‘t I? I left
     [school], that was my mistake, and so I‘ll have to play it some
     other way. I‘m working now, but I‘m still studying, doing it little
     by little. I made a mistake and I know I have to do something
     else now, but I won‘t get anywhere doing this [her present
     work]. This isn‘t where I want to be, and I think you‘re less
     productive if you don‘t really like what you‘re doing.
In this latter case, the girl is not only thinking of continuing her studies, but
she has also been giving aerobics classes, and has analysed the possibility
of opening a sportswear shop in SMP. So, one may say that her dream has
not evaporated, or been definitively downgraded, but is only on stand-by.
At this point it seems fair to conclude that, in spite of adults‘ formal and
informal discourse concerning the high value of the formal education, the
school system appears to be unprepared to identify and respond to the
dreams and the legitimate, concrete aspirations of their ―clients‖, namely
their students. No wonder that many of them look elsewhere for better
―niches‖ in life.


A third paradox clearly emerged from the data collected and may be
expressed as follows. The prevailing research and policy discourse on
economic development and employment stresses the need for well-
educated and trained ―human resources‖. The boom in new technologies

and associated globalisation processes have strongly reinforced the need for
adults to have lifelong access to continuing education and skills updating so
as to be able to survive in the ―new economy‖. In brief, nowadays it is
widely accepted that there is virtually limitless need and demand for
education. However, among youngsters in SMP there is a relatively
common unwillingness to contemplate the continuation of or return to
education. This trend is not the only one, but it is undoubtedly a strong one.

Indeed, to resume one‘s education, particularly in the period immediately
following school-leaving, is something that some interviewees (10%)
exclude quite unequivocally. The following transcripts of interviews with
Marília (17) and Xavier (40), with almost identical levels of educational
attainment, illustrate the deep-seated nature of this resistance.
     [Question: ―Do you intend to resume studying?‖] ―No.‖
     [―Never again?‖] ―No‖. [―OK, but when you were younger,
     when you, for instance, were in the 10th grade, didn‘t you think
     of pursuing higher education?‖] ―Yes. I even talked to my
     parents about it, but in the 12th grade I got completely fed up‖.
     [―What kind of profession did you envisage then?‖] ―Primary
     school teacher‖. [―So your academic plans changed … What
     really happened?‖] ―I was fed up with the school atmosphere. It
     was always the same thing over and over again‖. [―Do you
     regret not having pursued the course for primary school
     teachers?] ―No. I don‘t regret it at all‖. [―So, you don‘t see
     yourself studying again?‖] ―No‖.

     I completed the 9th grade. After this, I registered for the 10th
     grade but 3 months later I gave up because I just couldn‘t bear
     the teachers, they filled my head too much. [Question: ―Don‘t
     you like studying?‖] ―No‖. [―Did your parents agree with your
     leaving?] ―My parents, no. My parents wanted me to continue,
     but I‘d had enough‖. [―Might you go back to studying in the
     next few years?‖] ―No‖. [―Never again?‖] ―No‖. [―When you
     were younger, did you ever think of pursuing higher
     education?‖] No. My only thought was to work with my father [a
     wood trader], nothing more‖.
Many other respondents (nearly 60%) are not so unequivocal, but they do
not see a return to studying as likely, at least within a relatively short term.
For instance, Rita (44), 20 years old, married, a farm wage worker who also
completed 9th grade, expressed her views as follows:
     I‘m not thinking of resuming my studies in the future. If I could

     be sure it would get me a better job, I might, you know. If it
     meant going up in the world, sure, … but to study more just to
     stay a vineyard worker, wouldn‘t be worth it.

It seems that the idea of becoming ―educational returnees‖ does not appeal
to these interviewees. They stress multiple obstacles, some of which may
be combined:
   - respondents disliked and/or are tired of school;

   - they may see themselves as “lazy”, or “not made for school”;
   - they may fear the reactions and comments of their peers;

   - they may be afraid of disturbing an enjoyable, new life style;
   - they may enjoy their current work;

   - they may feel already settled into a (demanding) job;
   - they may foresee no impact on their current employment;
   - they may perceive no effect of education on their employability in
     the local labour market, which is extremely limited; and/or
   - they may fear their inability to bear the cost (school fees and related
It should be emphasised that, among those who have reservations about
resuming education, we find both the least educated (premature school
leavers included), and youth that have completed twelve years of
Nevertheless, the notion of resuming education appears to be accepted by
nearly 1/3 of the respondents, although their predisposition to do so appears
to be variable. Some see the possibility as a very short-term investment of
their time and resources. More precisely, some stated that they only wished
to finish the 9th or the 12th year of the secondary school, this being seen to
a certain extent as a way of enlarging the opportunity of getting a training
course, state-sponsored temporary employment, or even a job. It must be
added that the answer among most of those who appear willing to go back
to school tends to be of the kind, ―Yes, if...‖. That is, they indicate one or
more of the following as specific pre-requisites:

   - access to transport;
   - provision of child care;

   - continued/resumed family support;

   - post-work school timetable plus adequate travel time;
   - likely positive effects on performance/pay in their current or some
     other employment;
   - a course design that is well suited to their personal interests.

No major problem seems to exist with regard to transport constraints on
resuming education. Indeed, one of the members of the third focus group
argued that, although SMP public transport services are inefficient and non-
existent in the evenings, those interested in attending evening adult
education classes may benefit from a state-sponsored taxi service. The
other pre-conditions mentioned above certainly constitute more serious
obstacles, but, even so, youth attitudes, the style of courses, and the
ultimate effects of resumption all emerge as critical issues. The view of a
social worker who has close contact with poor families is rather
pessimistic. In the third focus group she told the following:
     When I‘m trying to encourage the older children of families
     [...receiving the guaranteed minimum income...] or young
     couples of up to 25 years of age, to sign up for the social
     inclusion programme, right from the start they‘ll say it‘s
     impossible to take evening classes. Perhaps it‘s because school
     has failed to meet their expectations, so to speak. But as a rule
     they refuse. And in many cases I‘m talking about people that
     have not even completed primary education.
Particularly if we bear in mind that only half of our sample pursued their
education beyond the 9th year of formal education, the testimonies of our
interviewees certainly indicate that there is relatively strong trend against
continuing education among the young people of Santa Marta. However,
the relative weight of either negative or positive attitudes should not be
overemphasised. This is due to a number of reasons, among which the
following seem the most important.
On the one hand, it is very likely that respondents have in mind the ―bad‖
or ―good‖ school that they have experienced and some may have
internalised the idea that education constitutes highly valued social
―capital‖. It is worth recalling (see above) that several respondents had a
very unhappy and/or unsuccessful relationship with their school and that
sometimes, the very first experience of academic failure brought on a
disproportionate level of disappointment and subsequent dropping out of
school. On the other hand, there is reason to believe that, under the

appropriate set of conditions, some of the more sceptical respondents may
return to school, at least with a view to achieving precise targets: the final
year of compulsory schooling (9th grade), or the terminal 12th year of
secondary school.
It is also worth repeating that a considerable number of the youngsters
interviewed seem to have a very open-minded, pragmatic and adaptive
attitude towards the job opportunities available. Besides the many youth
with this crucial predisposition, several respondents showed some
ambivalence, or at least qualified their negative answers to some extent.
Some examples are provided below.
     Who knows? … Everything depends upon what happens in the
     future. If I really needed to know different types of things, or it
     was necessary for changing jobs, I suppose I‘d study again. But
     I‘d always thought I‘d stop at the 12th grade.
                                  Céu (21), 19 years old, café waitress
     I don‘t believe I‘d go back to studying now. For the job I have
     at present, I don‘t need to.
                                      Artur (02), 21 years old, butcher

     I do not see myself studying again, but if a chance came up, I
     wouldn‘t reject it out of hand. I‘d need to think it over very
     carefully. I‘d have to see whether or not the opportunity
     matched what I wanted.

                     Brígida (12), 19 years old, shop counter assistant
     No, for the time being I don‘t want to resume studying, but if it
     was necessary… yes ... but not now. In the future, if I had no
     other choice… But I‘ve had sand years of schooling and I‘m
     tired of it.
      Cristina (34), 23 years old, recently unemployed sports teacher
     I don‘t know if I‘d be able to open my books again. By nature I
     wasn‘t much of a student. I don‘t need to study now, so I don‘t
     know how I‘d feel about it … but I might go on, perhaps it
     would be better. I‘m not greedy, but my current wage is hardly
     fair, and everyone like to earn good money ... it makes sense,
     doesn‘t it?
                                                 Eça (11), 23 years old

These affirmations need to be correlated with other information we
collected. In spite of the recognition that access to employment is
increasingly difficult everywhere, we did not find a youth ―culture‖ (a
relatively long-established and stable ways of perceiving and thinking,
feeling and acting) of disillusionment or despair. Indeed, during the
individual interviews, every youngster was asked to what decisions they
would change if they could have their time over again. Practically all
expressed contentment with almost all their past major decisions, although
three [(05) (33) (45)] admitted that there was a specific step they had taken
that may have been mistaken. Two girls would have liked to redefine inter-
personal relationships (with mother and boyfriend, respectively) and a boy
wondered whether he would have succeeded in becoming a professional
footballer if he had had the courage to separate himself from the family
when he was 13 year old (33). More meaningful yet it is the fact that nearly
3/4 of the interviewees mentioned (either spontaneously or after being
questioned) that it was with regard to school that they would change
something they had done (or left undone) in the past. Two of them [(32)
(41)] would have opted for different vocational streams, some would have
studied harder [(8) (11) (25) (28) (30)], and many thought they might like
to have continued their education (be it formal, non-formal and/or
It is very likely that this result is related to their realistic perception that
access to employment is becoming increasingly difficult. If interviewees
had finished earlier (i.e. with fewer years repeated) and with better marks,
they believe (perhaps less realistically) that the chances of their getting
employment or better positions would have been enhanced.

Bearing in mind all the data presented, we can conclude that it is not
beyond the skills of policymakers, the teaching profession and young
people themselves, to ―square the circle‖ between the social value of
education, on the on hand, and its under-valuation by the present generation
of students, on the other, thereby promoting greater social inclusion.
Undoubtedly, there are some signs of hope that this particular paradox can
be resolved, but it is also clear that very hard and persistent work will be


In SMP we observe another significant paradox: the multiple and intense
local ways of assisting the rural youth in their transition to adulthood
contrast vividly with the paucity of both the State interventionism and the
market dynamics. Political rhetoric, discourses and documents on policies,
institutional facilities and services rendered by civil servants emerge locally
as having extremely small importance as compared to the concrete,
constant action of one‘s parents, kin, and other social networks.

A previous, cautionary note is needed though. It should be kept in mind
that the rural youth are not only ―beneficiaries‖ of help provided by
parents, kin or other people from the local community or from elsewhere.
No, they are not necessarily the recipients of an unequal exchange. They
may be also ―donors‖, particularly as we observe that family ties are
multidimensional and relatively strong. The interviewees, in general, and
particularly those who participated in the first focus group, suggested that,
on the one hand, the youth tend to be involved in the family‘s major
decision-making processes and, on the other hand, the youngsters look for
advise mainly among the closest kin. To illustrate further, although briefly,
the two-way relationship, it is sufficient to call attention to the following
youngsters‘ contributions.
Several interviewers [(10) (04) (06) (16) (20)] reported that, during a
certain period of their life histories, they themselves became family income
earners, sharing their work payments partially or even totally within their
household. Some youngsters may provide social and medical services to
their parents, who suffer from chronic illness [e.g. (13) (20)] or from the
limitations associated to ageing. Zulmira (24), for example, gives
psychological and domestic assistance to her old father, who is a widower.
These ―social services‖ rendered by the rural youth should not be
underestimated, particularly if we keep in mind the local context. As we
have mentioned above, while far from being among the concelhos of the
Douro most affected by the relative growth of its aged population, the
situation in SMP is nevertheless markedly more severe than is the case in
the neighbouring counties.
Now, let us turn to the other side of the coin. According to the respondents,
in SMP the family is practically ―always‖ supportive and the help is
extensive and total. They speak of ―every kind of help‖, both material and

moral, and of ―full support‖, although this may be associated with advice of
the kind: ―I believe that you shall do this, but if you do otherwise, look, it is
your problem. The life is yours, you are the one who knows what is best for
you‖. The interviewees‘ expressions regarding the family support,
particularly the closest kin, are strongly positive, emphatic and practically
unanimous. Three examples are sufficient to illustrate the point:
     Without them [the parents] I cannot imagine what it would be
     [the personal life].
                                                  Elsa (19), 24 years old

     [I have had] the best support one might have had.
                                                    Sá (36), 18 years old

     You mean… support from my parents? Yes. I always take it for

                                                 Rute (08), 24 years old
Out of 46 youngsters interviewed, only one (10) belonged to a
―dysfunctional family‖ and other two qualified a bit their response,
reinforcing the general view as well. They stated the following:
     [I have received] moral support. I never needed a lot of it.

                                                Filipe (46), 22 years old
     I don‘t rely much on that. I believe that when we want to do
     anything it is wise not to rely upon someone. That may end up
     in an empty result.

                                                Dulce (13), 24 years old
In which ways may the family help the youngsters in their transition to
adulthood? To begin with, one cannot underestimate the board and lodging
that the family normally provides to the youngsters, sometimes even if they
are married. In this case, it is common that childcare may be also added to
that pack, thus providing the opportunity for the young mother to work,
even if this represents only a limited occupational placement. This is
precisely the case of Ana (18), which is documented below:
     [Question: is the work in your father-in-law‘s shop paid work?]
     No, because, that is it, I eat there, I have lunch there, I have
     dinner there. And practically I have my life there, you see… I

     am not going to demand money from them [parents-in-law]
     because I have lunch there, I, my husband and my two kids as

     [Question: And what about family‘s pressure for being
     unemployed?] No. On the contrary, my mother-in-law and my
     father-in-law themselves tell me not to despair concerning
     work. They tell me that I need to take care of my little daughter.
     But it is also annoying because I also want to have money for
     my things and I have not got it, isn‘t it?

                                               Ana (18), 24 years old
Secondly, as mentioned above, one may say that, the data collected suggest
that the parents generally stimulate their daughters and sons to pursue
education, sometimes resorting to the ―threat‖ of the work in the vineyards.
Apparently, many have higher academic expectations for their sons and
daughters than the teenagers themselves, while many of these do not see
dropping out of school as a major mistake. However, it is necessary to add
that most of the parents are unable to provide academic help to the
youngsters due to their limited education. Moreover, one may take into
consideration that the emigration of the parents, sisters, brothers and other
relatives erodes to a certain extent the wordy stimuli. As one key
informant, the priest, put it, any youngster may easily conclude:
     My father and mother [or brother, or sister, etc.] go to France
     and earn more than the people that are going around [here]
     with a lot of studies.

The same key informant also noted that there are still parents that devaluate
schooling, what is expressed in statements of this sort:

     They [the youngsters] would rather work than wandering from
     here to there. What are they [those in power] going to give to
     all these people? Everyone is studying and then what?

Parents may play the role of advisers of youngsters‘ projects (e.g. the
acquisition of a car, the setting up of a business, etc.), but preferences of
interaction may vary. For instance, while Inês (05) gets advise from her
father and is unable to get it from her mother, Luisa (45) prefers the
opposite interaction. Counselling, however, should not be overemphasised,
because not only the youngsters may exert fully their autonomy but also,
sometimes, no parents‘ advice whatsoever is possible. For instance,
referring to decisions such as to get a driving license and to change from
one job to another Dulce (13) put forward the following:

     My mother never was able to give me an opinion. I have had to
     decide by myself. Everything I have done until now has been
     thought alone, although sometimes I felt embarrassed, indeed.

This interview transcript may reflect merely a feature of a mother‘s
personality or may be interpreted as a local social trait. Various informants
speak of alcoholism (both of men and women) as a local problem and
according to two key informants, a nurse and a priest, there are ―some, not
many‖ dysfunctional families. Regardless the eventual ―professional
biases‖ of these people, it is worth quoting them:

     […] the problems in SMP do not have to do with the lack of
     economic resources, but more with the situations … with the
     mental health, if one may call that, of the people who do not
     know how to manage [themselves]. Because, normally, they
     have alcohol habits […] that lead them to not knowing how to
     manage what they own.
     […] there are some family problems which are caused by the
     human poverty, so to speak. That is, there are people that
     humanly have not got a capacity to manage themselves in life,
     to assume the responsibilities of the decisions, then they find
     another person in all similar and then come all the problems
     that result from this: both the problems concerning the
     husband/wife relationship and the others related to the
     education of their kids.
Besides the role of advisers of youngsters‘ projects, parents may function
as psychological guarantors, so to speak. Before unexpected, unsuccessful
and uncertain situations, like premature pregnancy, academic failure, lack
of access to training and/or job opportunities, getting unemployed, etc.
parents (as well as other relatives) may provide general emotional support
and encouragement, what is particularly worthwhile then. The data holds
the notion that, in SMP, parents‘ supportive and tolerant attitudes are
common. As an eventual sign of this we may say that practically all
respondents, except three [(10) (13) (29)] felt no ―family pressure‖
whatsoever as to looking harder for a job, or entering sooner into the labour
market. Moreover, two interviewees [(29) (45)], who are still in school,
know already that their parents are willing to support (at least partially) the
financial costs of setting–up their envisaged businesses: respectively, a car
reparation station and a hairdressing saloon. These data reinforce the initial
view that in SMP the family seems to be rather helpful, both materially and

Parents‘ and/or relatives‘ own businesses (including vineyards) provide
some temporary occupation for the youngsters [e.g. (05) (25) (29) (38) (39)
(40)] not only during holidays, but also while they are unable to get a job.
Even if the youngsters are not remunerated the social and psychological
gains are undeniable: on the one hand, both the boredom of being
unemployed and the sense of being unable to do something are diminished;
on the other hand, some abilities and skills are acquired or trained. Eça‘s
(11) case is a very illustrative one. For nearly one year, between the
completion of the military service and the admission in the Local Council
as a civil servant, he helped his father and also one of his uncles acting as a
driver. He often transported farm workers and he distributed daily pastry of
his uncle‘s shop. He also became a travelling salesman, selling publicity
goods (agenda-books, pens, etc.) on commission. A second uncle provided
him such an opportunity as well as the list of the usual clients of those
goods. No wonder the ensuing psychological effect:
     I never felt like an unemployed [person]. I had always
     something to do. That is it, in the morning I helped my uncle. If
     I wish to make some money I would take my publicity bag and
     could go around. And I had also many farm plots to where I
     could drive the wage workers… Then I only did not have a fixed
                                                 Eça (11), 24 years old

Besides the pocket-money obtained, other effects, such as the development
of positive attitudes, improvement of skills and the acquisition of work
discipline are produced by occasional jobs. The youngsters that have had
opportunities of this type value them, particularly the respective learning
atmosphere. João (38), for example, stated the following:
     It is important [to get the temporary work placements] because
     I start to prepare myself professionally for the future. I am
     getting accustomed to work. As I leave schooling, it would
     become less painful to begin to work. I will be used to it.

                                                João (38), 19 years old
Parents are surely aware of the mentioned gains and, even when they are
employees, they may look for occasional jobs for their kids in their own
places of work. This is the case of Alberto‘s (30) father, who works as a
supervisor in the SMP Wine Co-operative. Sebastião‘s mother (14) has had
good relations with the owner of the local pharmacy and was able to
negotiate a 6 months work contract for her son, while he was awaiting the
military service. Rute‘s (08) parents were able to find a work placement for

her in a distant place: for one year she worked in Azores.

There are also parents particularly attentive to training opportunities, these
being free of charge, or, on the contrary, providing some pocket money for
the trainee. Some youngsters were strongly advised to take these
opportunities [e.g. (06) (39) (40)]. There are also parents that may pay
training courses (particularly, computing) to their sons and daughters [e.g.
(08) (17) (32) (37) (41) (45)].

Besides paying training fees, there are other cases in which the youngsters
receive more substantial financial help. For instance, Ana‘s (18) parents-in-
law have made available at low cost the land needed for building her house
and Lúcia‘s (23) parents offered her an apartment. Fidel‘s (35) father acted
as a guarantor for the acquisition of his van.
The contribution of the parents for one‘s employment is sometimes very
direct and significant. Parents may endow a business through the
inheritance process (33), set up ―joint ventures‖ with their offspring, either
constituting micro-enterprises [(19) (31)], or enlarging the scale of their
businesses [(23) (40)]. In any case, parents provide then direct employment
opportunities or promote the self-employment of their descendants.

Some relatives may provide wage-work placements as well [(13) (27)] in
their own shops, what appears to be a common practice. Marília (17)
stressed very much this practice and Dulce (13), a current counter assistant
in a photography shop for instance, has benefited from it. Their respective
statements are the following:
     even the enterprises that start businesses [here, in SMP] always
     employ just a secretary and this post is surely for some family
     member. Always the family, ―cunha‖ and so…

                                             Marília (17), 21 years old
     Concerning the jobs I have got until now, the relatives were
     practically the only source of information. My current boss is a
     cousin of mine. The first one was also a cousin of mine. His wife
     had a baby and I became a baby-sitter three months later. They
     realized that I was at home doing nothing and called me. From
     then onwards, as one gets out of home, we build up contacts
     here and there, and so one keeps going.
                                              Dulce (13), 24 years old

As we have indicated above, in SMP the family support towards the
youngsters is very significant, what is widely acknowledged by them. Most
of the respondents share the view that their parents could not do better and
the help provided may be characterised as solicitous, diverse and reliable,
what contrasts vividly with the services rendered by the State apparatus
(see next chapter). The data presented below reinforces this view.
In SMP one‘s parents, close relatives, friends, neighbours and
acquaintances may be highly instrumental in finding other type of jobs,
besides those mentioned above, these being either temporary or permanent.
First of all, they tend to be key mediators concerning information on job
availability. They are the carriers of eventual good news issued by public or
private sources and organisations. Concerning the current interviewees‘
jobs, the source of information on its availability was the following:

-     parents and close kin: (09) (11) (13) (24) (27)(30) (35);
-     friends: (01) (05) (06) (07) (12) (16) (17) (18) (20) (21) (28);
-     neighbours/acquaintances: (02) (03) (08) (10) (22) (32) (42) (43) (44).

It is worth noting that only Graça (37) got information and access to her
current job directly. And her case was a very unusual one, indeed. She
looked for the clothes shops in the yellow pages of the local telephone
directory and phoned one shop, making herself available as a seamstress
(see her pathway summary in the next chapter). That is, the usual pattern is
to get information from alternative sources. The participants in the second
focus group agreed that ―the news flow from friends to friends‖ and thus
―the news flow faster‖.

Usually, parents and other relatives are willing to go much further than
providing information and credentials to the youngsters. They may lobby
the right persons in the right places, both directly or indirectly. This
observation is fully corroborated by all sources of information. That is, not
only by the youngsters interviewed but also by the key informants and
members of the focus groups. Concerning these exercises of influence, one
of the key-informants stated the following

     In general, the parents, via their friends, approach the so called
     employers — Local Council, Wine Co-operative, well, there is
     not a lot to go — and they beg, commit themselves, mobilise
     acquaintances … [they may use] even political friendship.

From the interviewees‘ and researchers‘ perspective, both the family and
the kinship look undoubtedly as reliable ―structures‖ and sources of

primary support for the youngsters. The social networks, particularly the
family and the kin, do work, and they may be vital when unfortunate
conditions emerge, such as becoming unemployed, ill and so on.
Youngsters as well as adults have been cushioned against ―market failures‖
and State inefficiencies and inaction through the family and kinship.
Attitudes and visible behaviour as well as socialisation practices have
inculcated the notion that the family is a safety net. This view is well
documented by the case provided by Mário (16), which follows:
     Mário‘s (16) father was born in SMP and migrated (with his
     own father) to Porto in the mid 70‘s. He met his wife there and
     Mário was born. He was an industrial wageworker until 1987,
     when ‗his‘ factory went bankrupt and he became unemployed.
     Mário‘s uncles (the brothers of his mother), who lived in Porto,
     offered Mário‘s parents some material and emotional support,
     but similar behaviour occurred among the other relatives who
     lived in SMP. Mário‘s father returned to the village with his
     family and he became a partner in the civil construction firm of
     one brother in law. Mário‘s brother also found employment in
     this same firm, where he still continues. Mário‘s father, on the
     contrary, moved recently into a cousin‘s similar firm. Mário
     wants to get married and return to Porto with his wife. He is
     thinking that the uncles who live there and have their own
     enterprises will employ him and his wife. In brief, Mário‘s
     father unemployment crisis was cushioned within the family.
     Almost 15 years later, Mário is planning his forthcoming life
     within that same frame.

We have seen above that, in general, the school that interviewees had
known may be subjected to various types of criticisms. We will show
below that most of the respondents do not speak very highly of the quality
of the Job Centres either. In brief, one may hold that SMP youngsters
perceive institutional facilities and public services as having little positive
impact in their life histories. On the contrary, the family and other social
networks are omnipresent and vital.


The number of paradoxes supplied by the field research in SMP is greater
than we had thought, but there is another one to be presented below.
If we define participation in social and political life as, at least,
membership and/or some degree of activity in local organisations, events
and initiatives as well as in the youth branches of the political parties and in
national political events, then, in general, the youth of SMP participate
extensively. However, while some local organisations and groups are
solidly established, others are rather ephemeral. As one girl put it:
     Here [in SMP], things [groups and initiatives] may appear and
     then vanish suddenly.
One‘s affiliation may be plural and last relatively short periods, but very
few people may be defined as being completely ―left out‖. In fact, the vast
majority of the respondents have had or have connections to one or more
local organisations and/or initiatives. Among the currently ―de-linked‖ we
met one interviewee who is mourning his mother‘s death, newcomers [(15)
(18) (46)], those who have very demanding jobs (33) (35), or babies to take
care of (19). Some youngsters explicitly mentioned that early marriage and
starting a family in one‘s late teens, for example, while it forced you to
grow up and become responsible, it also tended to exclude you from
political and social events. Elsa (19) has three babies and stressed the time
constraints against any such political participation:
     […] it may be important for young people, but only if they
     manage to put something forward, you see? But they often give
     up and end up doing nothing […] Youngsters don‘t stick with
     projects because many of them, like me and many others in
     SMP, get married and have kids very early – which ties you
     down very early. I‘m not just talking about me, there are lots of
     cases here […] and as a result you don‘t have time to
     participate […] because of children, home and work. You just
     have to give up one or the other. It‘s impossible.
Beyond the usual constraints on political participation, the data collected
from several sources suggest that SMP youth participation both in political
and non-political initiatives and organisations is relatively high. Let us

begin by looking at ―non-political‖ activities.

At the time of the village feasts (which have a mixed nature, popular and
religious) young people usually assume the role of mordomos, i.e. both the
symbolic and practical role of co-organisers of that local event, typically in
collaboration with the priest. They take particular responsibility for raising
funds and are involved to some degree in the decision-making process. For
example, at Carnival, girls and boys may organise the traditional events in
which public criticism and mockery – both of each other and of those
usually exempt due to their social status – is permitted. Youth may be also
mobilised for setting-up various groups in the parishes of the Catholic
Church: for example, scout groups, the church choir, catechism groups, and
others devoted to community action, spiritual meditation, or raising social
consciousness. Usually, in these groups, the activities of boys and girls are
―managed‖ by adults (priests, nuns, parish choir conductors), but, through
them, a few youngsters may develop organisational skills. At least five of
our informants had been in the scouts, and three were responsible for
catechism classes.
Other formal local organisations, such as the fire brigade, the hunting and
fishing club, the banda filarmónica, cultural associations (some may
include a theatre group or a music school) and sports clubs similarly call
the attention, the involvement and energy of the youth [e.g. (06) (13) (14)
(30) (36) (37)]. Participation in folk dance and folk music groups is very
common. Football is rather popular and six respondents [(15) (33) (36) (38)
(39) (42)] are currently enrolled as players in four different clubs. One of
these (33) is the coach of the local children‘s football team, Real
Penaguião. Athletics, volleyball and cycling may also bring youth together
(4, 22, 25, 29, 30). There is not the slightest hint of youth participation in
any ―regional‖, ―rural‖, ―local‖, or ―community‖ development association.
In brief, a close look at the interviewees‘ answers indicate that cultural,
religious and leisure activities organised by local institutions for youth,
particularly in the main villages and – to a lesser extent, it should be
stressed – in SMP town itself, are highly relevant as means of ―social
inclusion‖ and youth participation in local community life. This is also
strongly corroborated by a key-informant, the local teacher who, for 24
years, has been involved in, and has followed the development of, cultural
and sporting organisations in SMP.
While very little information emerged on specific youth involvement in
decision-making processes in non-political organisations and initiatives, it
did hint at a high degree of youth dependence on adults‘ guidance and
leadership. Youth may be full of ideas but appear to be simultaneously

incapable of surmounting obstacles and of moving on to concrete action. If
they succeed in doing so, these few youth-led initiatives tend to evaporate
over time. And nobody knows precisely why.

Youth participation in political parties and events, as mentioned above,
appears to be relatively high, exceeding the a priori expectations of the
research team. The extent and degree of certain kinds of participation of
rural youth in local politics seems significant and quite probably
contributes towards the socialisation process of youth and their later fuller
participation in local community life.

Certainly, most of the respondents are not members of political parties, and
some of them had very little knowledge about parties‘ local organisations.
They feel distant from the parties and, during the interviews, their
comments were rather sober, negative and abrupt, as the following
statements illustrate:
     I don‘t like politics. I don‘t care about it.
                                               Marília (17), 21 years old

     I dislike political parties.
                                                 Artur (02), 21 years old

     Politics generate conflicts and this puts people off.
                                                     Fidel (35), 23 years old

Similarly, they also manifested widely held stereotypes concerning

     They [the politicians] lie, and they lie well, and they never fulfil
     their promises.

                                                     Olga (01), 20 years old
     Then [at the time of political campaigns] politicians promise a
     lot of things, but they never fulfil their promises.
                                                     Elsa (19), 24 years old
In spite of the above views, the interviewers met a surprisingly high
number of respondents who acknowledged that they are, or had been, more
or less formally linked to the local youth branches of the three major
national political parties: PS (Socialist Party), PSD (Social Democratic
Party) and the PCP (Portuguese Communist Party). The number of current

members and ex-members amounts respectively to 8 and 3 [6 women, 5
men: (03) (05) (06) (09) (11) (16) (42) (43) (37) (38) (39)] out of 46
interviewees. Moreover, among the youth interviewed, three mentioned
other friends that are members of political parties. It has to be said that 5 of
these respondents qualified their position by saying that they are not
formally enrolled in the party, nor do they participate in local meetings and,
in one case, a young women actually admitted ―disliking‖ politics, and that
this ―business‖ really meant nothing to her.
Four youngsters are particularly committed to local politics [(05) (09) (11)
(16)]. They attend regular meetings of the youth branch of their parties and
actively discuss ideas, sometimes even in the public sessions of the Local
Council (municipal assembly). Three of them have been highly involved in
party-sponsored cultural initiatives at the local level, such as a heavy-metal
concert and a beauty contest. The annual ―cultural week‖ at Santa Marta de
Penaguião provides everyone with another occasion to cement one‘s
loyalty to one‘s party. The national congresses of the parties and other large
meetings in the major cities, which young members, in particular, are
actively encouraged to attend, may provide similar opportunities.
Prominent among the comments of the four young people mentioned
above, are those of Rosa (09):

     [Question: ―Why do you participate in the youth branch of the
     political party?‖] ―Because I like it. I like politics‖. [―What do
     you like about politics? Can you be more specific?‖] ―Because
     I like the struggle, the turmoil‖ [laughs] … [―Do you mean the
     turmoil of electoral campaigns?‖] ―No, no. I just like politics
     per se, It means something to me‖. [―Do you like to
     participate?‖] ―Yes‖ [―And give your opinions?‖] ―Yes. And
     also because I feel a lot of things are wrong, too, mainly in my
     village. This upsets me, and I rebel against it. That was the
     main reason that led me to get involved‖ [in the youth branch of
     the political party]

Undoubtedly, youth participation is also of paramount importance in
national political campaigns. This is common knowledge, but it was also
corroborated by the key-informants and reflected to some extent in the
interviews: while 9 interviewees emphasised unequivocally the large
number and strong commitment of young people involved in national
political elections and referenda [(16) (18) (21) (23) (33) (34) (36) (42)
(43)], four respondents held the opposite view [(10) (29) (37) (40)]. At the
time of major campaigns, the youngsters are the life-blood and foot soldiers
of the party: they stick up posters and banners, join marches, attend dinners
and conventions throughout the region. Moreover, some young men are put

up as candidates in the Council elections. Thus the material, organisational
and symbolic contribution as well as votes of youth cannot be under-
estimated. As a young farm labourer, who is a member of the local
―opposition‖ party, put it:
     Youth do make a difference, because of their energy and
     strength. Youth means power and, those who lead the [political]
     parties, see all those youngsters as providing powerful backing
     to them.
                                        Castro (42), male, 25 years old

Both interviewers and external observers sense that politics is part and
parcel of SMP life. Two young women, who are party members, strongly
suggested that party politics, in fact, divide local youth. They provided two
exemplary indicators: (1) the exclusion of youngsters, ostensibly with other
(family?) political affiliations, whether politically active or not, from a
local scout group, dominated by members of the other political party; (2)
local social interaction between youngsters with different party affiliations
is limited, although it may take place if they meet elsewhere, for instance,
in a pub or disco in Vila Real.

We have just established the first term of the paradox: the level of SMP
youth participation in social and political life appears to be relatively high.
At least, there are no signs indicating that it is lower than that of the
common, adult citizen or that of ―urban‖ youth. However — and this is the
second term of the paradox — youngsters‘ participation in political parties
and events does not mean that they exert much influence and power, even
Youth are involved in national election campaigns, but most of the
respondents (both party and non party members) feel that they are confined
to securing votes and to other intense activities at the peak of campaign. In
between times, they are not taken seriously. As party candidates the young
are insufficiently informed and kept ―at the bottom of the list‖. These
positions are not conducive to attracting the attention of the local
leadership. If they actually succeed in getting a hearing for their ideas and
proposals, these are often dismissed as unimportant. Ana (18), however,
believes that the youth have had a fair hearing within one of the local

In broader terms, a great number of interviewees that were willing to talk
about local politics complained that power holders neither bother to inquire
about their own ideas, needs and wishes, nor consequently undertake the
corresponding actions [e.g. (02) (03) (13) (14) (22) (26) (37) (39) (46)].

Alberto (30), despite the fact that football dominates the local sports scene,
committed himself to the formation of a local volleyball team, and felt that
having the opportunity to be listened to about the youngsters‘ concerns
would constitute the first step in civic and political ―participation‖. In the
final analysis, older people in SMP – as elsewhere – often do not
sufficiently trust youth, and this is reinforced by the lack or weakness of
political, inter-generational relationships, on the one hand, and on the other,
by the possible perception (or misconception) on the part of adults, that
youth lack initiative.

This lack of openness concerning youngsters‘ civic and political
participation in local affairs may cause dissatisfaction and a sense that there
is no point in getting involved. This can be inferred from interviewees‘
expressions like the following:
     Those involved politically try to encourage youngsters to go
     into politics, for instance to be candidates on the Local Council
     lists, in order to enlist their help. However, I don‘t think their
     [the youngsters‘] opinions are given any value. Their names are
     there just to fill the list up. It‘s [... the adult politicians] that
     have the final word, they are the important people, at the head
     of the list; they are the decision-makers, they are the ‗doers‘.
                                                 Dulce (13), 24 years old

     [if we are politically active] they [the adults] just think: ―what
     are these little kids talking about? Don‘t they understand
     anything at all?‖ They think like that. […] Of course, we do
     know something. We may only have a little understanding, but
     we can learn. It‘s the adults themselves who are convinced that
     the youngsters do not understand anything.
                                               Luisa (45), 18 years old

     Perhaps the young are held back. You know — ―Shut up and
     grow up; you don‘t understand anything‖.
                                           Lauro (41), 20 years old

     Some [proposals of the youth branch of the party] were
     accepted but a lot of them were not implemented […] because
     they [the adult party members] don‘t want to follow the ideas of
     the young people. They want to be the sole decision-makers.
                                               Telmo (39), 19 years old

     I was told that they [SMP youngsters] gave up [participating]

     after a theatre project, as well as other things, they had
     submitted to the Local Council, were all turned down… so, they
     were forced to give up because it wasn‘t worth pursuing it.
     Youngsters are not allowed to participate.
                                                 Elsa (19), 24 years old

Certainly, this dissatisfaction and disillusionment regarding politics are
relevant, since many informants readily agreed that a greater participation
of the youth in community life would make a difference. The more
politically experienced seem to regard participation as a sort of right of
citizenship. Telmo (39), who left one of the political parties disillusioned
with its top-down decision making process, suggested that youth
participation is justified on two main grounds:
- youngsters‘ own experience of being young is unique, obviously
  different from that of adults;
- youngsters may have innovative ideas.
According to one of our key-informants, one priest, Telmo‘s
disillusionment is not unique. Indeed, he expressed himself in this way:
     You hardly see [the youngsters], except... when the electoral
     campaigns take place. Then, they are sought out, mobilised for
     this and for that. But there is a great deal of disenchantment
     among youngsters regarding politics.
So far, we have concluded that, on the one hand, the participation of youth
in community and some spheres of political life seem to be relatively high.
On the other hand, there are indications about leaders‘ ignorance of – or
even disdain for – youngsters‘ ideas, needs and wishes. Moreover, there are
also hints that some sort of exclusion from political decision making
processes exists. Briefly, we could infer that ―politicians use youth‖. This
inference is strongly corroborated by the following statement of a young
political leader, one of our key-informants:

     Indeed, the great majority of the youngsters are very active
     during the political campaigns, but [a youngster that is in the
     electoral list] is just placed strategically where he is required to
     ‗pedal‘. He will have the illusion that he may be moving
     forward – may be elected – but, in fact, he won‘t.

The differentiated political behaviour of youth (commitment versus

reserve) may be partly explained by their perception of the issue, which
may not differ significantly from that of the adults. From the data, local
political power emerges much more as personal privilege than as public
service. Political power is the power holders‘ own property rather than a
collective and shared instrument. Most interviewees seemed surprised with
researchers‘ interest regarding the extent to which young people have been
involved in decision-making in the local areas, and the usual answer was
something like this: ―of course, here the mayor rules‖. In contemplating
even the smallest local initiative, it is the mayor‘s views and thoughts,
interests and wishes, on the one hand, as well as the issues and interests he
is unwilling to support, on the other, that tend to be seen as the key
To beg favours of the mayor is common. Needless to say that jobs are cases
in point. His own capabilities and achievements are often overestimated,
although they are frequently under close screening:
     This mayor is soft. He does nothing. Nothing.

                                              Paulo (26), 17 years old
     This mayor the man to make SMP into a real town.

                                              Luisa (45), 18 years old
     In there [SMP] many things function through ―cunhas‖. People
     expect this. Moreover, perhaps due the fact that SMP is a small,
     closed community, I think it has a highly politicised atmosphere.
     They [the people] resort frequently to, for instance, the Local
     Council, in the sense that it has, to a certain extent, the
     obligation of providing them with employment […] And they do
     ask. Like beggars asking for alms.

                                        Nurse, female, key-informant
In rural Portugal, politics is a domain that is probably more territorially
than ideologically rooted. A political candidate is expected to win ―at
home‖ and later he must bring development to ―his‖ land or community.
This means that the mandate for a politician is to undertake actions that are
material, visible and having immediate impact, such as infrastructures (e.g.
a bar, a cinema, a medical centre) more than achieve long term less tangible
progress. While sharing an ideology may be of little use, familiarity with
members of the political class can help. Furthermore, it is commonly
accepted that for the mayor of the County Council to be of the same party
as the President of one‘s Parish Council (freguesia) is the best possible way

of assuring the village develops.

The extent of the gap between politics and ideology is also reflected to a
large degree in the discourses of young people, which are typically empty
of any references to common causes and socio-political values. Only one
informant, not surprisingly, perhaps, with links to the youth branch of the
PCP, elaborated unequivocally on local political themes and local-national
disparities. The issues he touched on were as follows:

   - the need for alternative investment priorities and policies in the

   - the unequal economic opportunities faced by rural and urban youth

   - the predominance of inter-party struggle over the search for
     consensus on “regional” development;
   - the unequal development between interior and coast, between
     Lisbon/Porto and Trás-os-Montes, and between SMP and its
     surrounding villages.

There is also some evidence that the exercise of power is seen as being
more secretive than transparent, with neither dialogue nor debate much in
evidence. It is more or less expected that issues of supposedly public
interest be kept within political boundaries, preferably inside one‘s own
party offices. It seems also legitimate to say that local politics tends to be
built upon social networks. At least some informants openly recognise that
both the family and the peers strongly influence one‘s links to the life of
the political parties. One girl stated explicitly that she joins the party‘s
marches just to have fun with her friends; other informants spoke of their
political involvement as part of family life. Eça (11), the leader of one of
the local youth branches of a political party could not have been clearer:

     Well, my father is a politician, he is the president of the Junta.
     Personally I do not like much politics, I believe that it is
     somewhat dirty… people do a lot of deals under the table and
     behind people‘s backs … that‘s it, you see, it was more… [a
     case of being involved] since I was a child … after, I joined my
     father in this business, in political campaigns and so on… I
     started to get into this, I was pressurised into be in charge of
     the youth branch [of the political party], and that‘s all there was
     to it.
Since local politics meshes with families and with social networks and is

also perceived as a personally- and territorial-related exercise, it seems
acceptable to argue that, quite straightforwardly, local politics works as a
driving force for both social ―inclusion‖ and social ―exclusion‖. Those who
have close ties with the mayor, with members of the ruling party, with local
leaders, or with those who are integrated in their social networks get ―into‖
specific social spheres; the rest are simply left ―out‖. Some even become
socialised into the prevailing opinion of their political leaders regarding the
role and ideas of youth in politics. Yet one may wonder why some youth
persist in politics, given the apparent mismatch between the high political
costs (involvement and work) and the low returns (little attention to and
poor acceptance of young people‘s ideas and proposals). Why do they
allow ―politicians to use youth‖? Would it not be reasonable to expect
some kind of rebellious reaction?

The data collected may support the idea that, after all, the unbalanced
nature of the transaction between politicians and young people is not a long
term phenomenon. Youth ―play‖ with politics for the fun it involves, and
―drop out‖ of politics because of its frustrations. On the other hand, they
may keep a low political profile by missing the regular party meetings,
tolerating the above mismatch mentioned for a while in the hope that it may
turn out well. For instance, it may guarantee access to a job. Indeed, three
informants revealed that their current jobs were obtained (two became civil
servants and one has had several temporary jobs through the Local
Council), due to their political membership and activity. The researchers
also became aware of their sombre expectations if local political change
were to occur: both career promotion and the availability of temporary
work could come to an abrupt stop. Briefly, we could also infer that ―youth
use politicians‖.


Our analysis of the data on SMP‘s youth supplied another paradox, the
sixth. In spite of both the youngsters‘ pessimistic prognosis of the future of
the local area and their negative observations on policies, in general they
seem rather willing to stay.

Undoubtedly, to make socio-political prognoses is a difficult exercise for
anyone, let alone (perhaps) the youngest among us. SMP‘s youngsters are
not exception. So, some respondents simply did not proffer comments in
this respect, others did so only reluctantly and the remaining merely looked

at the development achieved until the present, or formulated rather vague
wishes concerning the future [e.g. (38) (43) (45)]. Nevertheless, the
fieldwork interviews provided us with the following pointers:

 concerning the past, the respondents recognise changes, particularly in
  infrastructure and the built environment, most of which, according to
  them, have been achieved only gradually and at a too slow pace;

 as to the future, out of 16 interviewees who made prognostics, 9 were
  rather pessimistic [(11) (12) (14) (19) (21) (29) (33) (37) (40)]; the
  remaining 6 felt that little would change, and only slowly if at all,
  namely in commerce and building [(04) (07) (27) (28) (30) (31)];

 furthermore, Inês (05), who had the most optimistic view, admitted that
  two specific places within the SMP concelho (Lobrigos and Cumieira),
  which are scattered from each other and are close respectively to Régua
  and Vila Real, would become new residential sites for people employed
  in these urban centres. In brief, the general youngsters‘ prognostic is
  very grim and pesimistic: SMP will stagnate.

These predictions are clearly somewhat conditioned by the current scarcity
of local jobs, lack of industrial development, and the expected negative
impact of new roads [e.g. (21) (33) (42) referred very explicitly these
points], but we may hypothesise that it is also related to the youngsters‘
perceptions of the impact of the available policies. So it is worth looking in
more detail at this last aspect.

To begin with, a general point should be made. As commonly happens with
other people, SMP‘s youngsters are usually unable to identify polic ies and
projects from which they have benefited 20. For instance, none of them
mentioned any social welfare grant during his/her period of compulsory
education, but it is very likely that, at least some of them have been
covered by this type of support. Similarly, we observed that youngsters
who were trainees in official courses had difficulties in mentioning the
respective programme or project [e.g. the AGIR and INFORJOVEM
programmes]. Beneficiaries, adult and youth alike, tend to recall only the
organisations‘ designations (some with great difficulty), or their locations,
and, perhaps, one or two names of those civil servants with whom they had
closer contact and interaction.
Even discounting this serious limitation in getting an accurate picture of the
young people as direct policy beneficiaries, the policies themselves appear
as sort of unidentified flying objects (UFOs). Certainly, this is so at the
field level and from the youngster‘s perspective. Only a very small number

of them had had even a glimpse of what policies constituted, and this was
usually via an intermediary. Moreover, the more informed interviewees
tend to have highly sceptical attitudes towards policies, as the following
youngsters‘ narrative accounts reveal.
     Now there‘s the Guaranteed Minimum Income, the government
     is paying people to stay at home […] At some time in the future
     [the loan component of] EU farm support will have to be paid
     back. Then, I‘d like to see how the people [who benefited] will
     find the cash. This will be in 2006…

                                     Paulo (26), 17 years old, student
     The impression that I have got about it [policy measures
     favourable to the creation of self-employment] after collecting
     information [concerning the setting up of a sportswear shop] is
     that the whole set of measures is a great masquerade.
                                    Inês (05), 23 years old, employed
     I applied for that [policy support for the creation of self-
     employment], but it is all a pretence, really. The project was
     approved three, almost four years ago, but we haven‘t received
     the money yet. We got a letter, but there was some document
     missing, and then there was something else missing afterwards.
     That‘s because of the things that they [the civil servants]… did
     not explain well enough… We kept going there [Porto] and they
     said this and that and, after half an hour, it seemed the project
     was approved. But when we met them again, two hours were
     needed. Then all they could say was that this was missing, and
     that was missing.

                                  Lúcia (23), 20 years old, employed
Miguel (33), a 24 year old lad, self-employed, who inherited a small
restaurant and has plans of enlarging his business via a two-phase tourism
hotel project, spoke more favourably about the public sector offices
responsible for such matters in Porto. However, he admitted that he may
suspend and reshape the first phase of this project, which took two years to
be approved, because the supportive financial scheme announced for the
next six years looks much more favourable. These youngsters‘ accounts do
not speak very highly of both the policies and/or the quality of the public
organisations, and are similar to the statements concerning the quality of
service provided by the Job Centres (see chapter 4).

Sometimes, neither lack of ―good‖ policies nor specific implementation
problems exist, but the local context makes the former inapplicable. This is
certainly the case of the existing Portuguese housing policies targeted on
young people. I.e. ―Youth Renting‖ and ―Youth Loans‖ 21, so, it would be
worthwhile looking at these briefly.

Housing does not seem to be a major problem with the youth of SMP since
the family assumes a supportive role in providing them the living
arrangements needed. The fact that there exist policies aimed at aiding
young people to obtain a house of their own, either rented or bought, is not
reason enough for them to leave their parents’ home before they marry or
find employment. It should be noted that, although SMP is a rural area, it
suffers somewhat from the price speculation that exists in the housing
market in Vila Real. Houses in SMP, although slightly cheaper than in
nearby cities, are however not easily affordable to young people who have
just begun to work22. Given that the majority of the young people
interviewed have a monthly income between €300 and €599, to buy a
house of €95,000 is simply an unrealisable dream. Note also that to obtain a
bank loan with that salary level is also impossible. In fact, bank loans for
housing for young people have two legal arrangements: one that provides
state aid in terms of contributing financially to the monthly payments to the
bank; and the other has no state aid. With the first arrangement it is only
possible to obtain a loan with the above-mentioned income if a house costs
no more than €68,000, and yet at this price the loan would imply a monthly
payment of more than half of the buyer’s salary. With the second legal
arrangement a loan would not be granted at all to any person with the
income level under discussion.
If we consider the hypothesis of renting a house, then it is possible to
obtain an aid of until 80% of the monthly rent. This hypothesis,
notwithstanding its attractiveness, poses some difficulties since in SMP
there is no formal renting housing market. That is, houses are not usually
put to rent and thus young people generally do not use this kind of living

So, we can conclude that, in spite of the apparent theoretical merit of
existing housing policies for youth, ultimately they are of little importance
in SMP’s case. In fact, only a few interviewees mentioned that they had
had some sort of state aid and, even so, there was also some mis-
interpretation of the policy content and conditions. Note that the decision to
buy or rent a house is very rarely taken individually and, therefore, it is
often postponed with respect to short-term plans. Obviously, most young
people desire a house of their own, but to think about this in concrete terms
only happens later in life, after satisfying several more important

conditions, namely finding a permanent job and/or marrying.

In spite of the prevailing conditions just referred to, a considerable number
of youngsters interviewed are predisposed to stay in SMP (Table 3.1).
Surprisingly, most of the young people (28 out of 46) stated that they will
definitely or probably live in SMP: all the married interviewees, with the
exception of one, intend to definitely stay in the area and around half of
those who are single think they will probably live there in the future. The
respondents who are single are less determined in staying in SMP,
considering this decision mainly as probable and dependent on the
availability of jobs. Only 4 out of 46 stated their plan of definitely leaving

                 Table 3.1 - Plans to stay in SMP, by marital status
                Plan to stay in      Single Married            Total
                the area
                Definitely yes            4            8         12
                Probably yes             16                      16
                Probably not              4                       4
                Definitely not            4                       4
                Depending on              6                       6
                jobs available
                Other                     2            1          3
                D/K                       1                       1
                Total                    37            9         46
                Source: Fieldwork interviews, SMP, 1999-2000

More paradoxically still, is the outcome provided by a cross-tabulation data
analysis (Table 3.2). When crossing the interviewees‘ monthly income with
their plans of living in SMP we observe that, in fact, 90% of the
interviewees who receive less than ¤ 300 per month are predisposed to stay
in the area.

     Table 3.2 - Cross-tabulation of plans to stay in SMP and monthly income
                                  Monthly Income
                                    (before tax)       Unde r €300   €300-599 €600-1049     Total
                                   Definitely yes                5          5         1        11
                                                               45%       21%      100%       31%
       Plan to stay in the area

                                   Probably yes                  5         11                  16
                                                               45%       46%                 44%
                                   Probably not                             1                   1
                                                                          4%                  3%
                                   Definitely not                           4                   4
                                                                         17%                 11%
                                   Depending on jobs                        3                   3
                                   available                             13%                  8%
                                   Other                        1                               1
                                                              9%                              3%
                                                               11          24        1         36
     Total                                                  100%        100%      100%      100%
     Source: Fieldwork interviews, SMP, 1999-2000

These findings may be partially explained by housing issues. In terms of
the factors that have an impact on finding a job, affordable housing appears
in second place (23 out of 46), which can explain the option of staying in
SMP in spite of the lack of job opportunities (i.e. the foremost factor
impacting on finding a job), since, at least in this area the youth have a
place to live, normally the parents‘ home. If high housing rents elsewhere
are associated with low pay, or salary, and costly transport, it clearly makes
sense to stay in SMP. The lack of local social services reinforces this
option, as the case below clearly shows. That is, securing a (low pay) job
and (limited) economic independence from the parents is not always
enough reason to leave SMP.

     I had applied successfully for the job of administrative assistant
     and was posted to a school in Guimarães [a city about 85 km
     from SMP]. But nearly all of the salary went on transport, the
     rent and all... And it was also a bad moment for me, because it
     was then that my mother had a stroke (...) and that also made
     me think a lot... If I was to become independent I‘d keep little
     or no money for myself. And I preferred to stay at home and
     take care of my mother.
                                                                 Luzia (20), 25 years old, single

The availability of jobs, affordable housing and the wish to stay in SMP
appear as inter-linked factors with regard to employment search and thus
also in terms of the decision, or the plans, to stay in the area. It is, however,
interesting to note that the wish to stay in the area (viewed as an individual

factor) was confirmed by 19 interviewees as having no effect on job-
search. Only 9 interviewees seem particularly “attached to” SMP, since
they see this factor as imposing constraints in finding (and accepting) a job.
Even though young people consider a wide range of factors when they have
to decide whether or not to leave SMP, it is usually employment
(associated, or not, to emigration) that emerges as the main factor taken
into account. Guida (27), who is 16 years old and has a precarious, low
paid job, is planning to migrate within two years, that is, as soon as she gets
“legal autonomy”.
In spite of the multiple factors affecting the decision to leave or stay in
SMP, it seems legitimate to say that, in general, for the youngsters
interviewed and living there, it is preferable to find employment in the area.
Very likely, this is so, among other reasons, because of the inter-
dependence between them and their parents. This does not mean however,
that they will stay in SMP at any cost: they are willing to make sacrifices in
the name of the relations of reciprocal solidarity they have with their
parents, but they are also conscious of the implications that any changes in
their lives, whether regarding employment or marriage, will have on their
future, longer term plans. In brief, ultimately, the question — to stay or to
leave? — is an open one.

                                          Chapter 4
                         Santa Marta de Penaguião:
                          pathways to employment


While employment in the Douro (NUT III) sub-region where the SMP
study area is situated, grew by 9% in the period 1995-1997, unemployment
rose by over one-third (see Table 4.1), precisely when it started a decrease
trend in Portugal. The gravity of this trend is underlined by the fact that, in
the space of just three years, the Douro‘s unemployment rate overtook that
of the Northern Region as a whole 23, and by 1997 had attained a rate of
double that figure. Besides, registered unemployment at Job Centres
continued to grow in the Douro in recent years. There are two main reasons
for this dramatic situation. On the one hand, the local economy has proven
incapable of absorbing even the relatively modest number of young people
that enter the job market each year 24. On the other, there has been an
increase in the number of people enumerated as ―available for work‖, both
due to improvements in the statistical coverage, and as a result of those
hitherto considered inactive (mainly women categorised as housewives
and/or as unpaid family workers) defining (and eventually registering)
themselves as unemployed.

      Table 4.1 - Employment and Unemployment in the Douro sub-region (NUT III)
      Labour force indicators                                 1995         1996         1997
      A. Employed population                                77,500       76,200       84,200
      B. Overall activity rate (%)                             35.3         34.7         38.6
      C. Unemployed population
      (sample survey, self identification)*                   4,700        4,900        6,300
      D. Unemployment rate (%) [C/(A+C)]                         5.7          6.0          7.0
      Source: Instituto Nacional de Estatística (INE), No rthern Region Employ ment Surveys,
      Note: INE defines the unemployed, in its emp loyment surveys, as individuals without jobs,
      available to wo rk and who state to have been actively seeking it during the preceding 4
      weeks. Th is means that all other people, not looking for a job in this time span, are
      classified as inactive.
      *It is important to stress the difference between unemployment rates es timated on the basis
      of sample surveys and self-defin ition (on the one hand) and unemployment measured in
      terms of those registered as Job Centres.

It is widely known that unemployment affects youth far more than the rest
of the economically active population, being young women particularly
badly affected. This phenomenon of gender inequality in the 15-24 cohort
expresses itself more clearly in the Douro than anywhere else in the
country. Due to an insufficient sample size of the Northern Region
Employment Survey, we are unable to present unemployment data,
disaggregated by age and/or gender for the Douro NUT alone, but we can
do so if we combine this sub-region with the neighbour Alto Trás-os-
Montes. As can be seen in Figure 5, the unemployment rate of young
females in this ‗combined‘ region triples that of young males. There is also
a large gap between the female unemployment rate of Trás-os-Montes and
Douro and of any other region, which is not the case for the male rate,
lower than the observed in Grande Porto and Minho-Lima and only slightly
above than in the most industrialised NUTS, Ave and Cávado.

Figure 5 - Unemployment rates (as % of active population) in the 15-24 cohort, by gende r,
                    in the NUTS III of Northern Portugal (1999)
     Source: Instituto Nacional de Estatística (INE), Northern Region Emp loy ment Survey,

However, the most impressive figure that distinguishes young women
living in Douro and Trás-os-Montes, both from their young male
counterparts and from young women living in the rest of the Northern
Region, is the activity (or inactivity) rate. One can see in Figure 6 that the
proportion of employed females in Douro and Trás-os-Montes (25%)
roughly halves that of males in the same area (47%) and that of females all
over the North (48%).

Figure 6 - Occupational profile (as % of total population) of the 15-24 cohort, by gender,
    in the NUTS III Douro and Alto Trás-os-Montes an d in the NUT II Norte (1999)
     Source: Instituto Nacional de Estatística (INE), Northern Region Emp loy ment Survey,

As we move down the geographical scale from the Northern Region (NUT
II) to the interior North of Portugal (Douro and Alto Trás-os-Montes
combined), we find activity rates declining, unemployment steadily
increasing, and the gap between male and female (un)employment

Although we are unable to project this reality directly onto the locality of
SMP, our knowledge of the area, as well as the following data, would
suggest that the very same tendency applies as we move from the NUT
Douro to the SMP county.

Considering registered unemployment youth at Job Centres, i.e. young
people who apply for a job at a government (un)employment institute, and
relating those figures with the resident population on the respective cohort,

we have a raw image of the magnitude of unemployment in SMP,
compared to the Douro.

 Table 4.2 - Unemployment in relation to resident population, in the 15-24 cohort (1999)
                                           S. Marta de Penaguião                  Douro
 Labour force indicators                       Male     Female                Male     Female
 A. Population (1998 estimate)                  851        832               20,677     19,474
 B. Registered unemployed                        37         97                  835      1,775
 C. Unemployment as % of
 population (B/A)                                  4.3           11.7             4.0            9.1
        Source: Instituto Nacional de Estatística (INE), Estimat ivas da População, 1998; Instituto
        de Emp rego e Formação Profissional (IEFP) 1999 (unemploy ment data).

As can be seen from Table 4.2, the number of women aged 15-24
registered as unemployed in SMP exceeds 11% of the total cohort, well
above the Douro sub-region‘s rate of 9%, while the figures for young males
are very similar. We can then confirm an increase in unemployment and a
widening in the gender gap as we move from Douro to SMP. Nothing can
be said about the activity rate in the county, as there is no fresh data on the
subject25; but if we assume an activity rate in SMP equal to the value of
Douro and Trás-os-Montes, the unemployment rates of SMP's youth,
computed as percentage of active population, would be 8.6% for men and
39.4% for women, meaning that in every five young women available to
work, two of them couldn't find a job.


4.2.1         Introduction
The results of the interviews conducted in SMP bore out one of the
hypotheses with which the research had begun, namely that, in rural areas,
a pathway to employment does not necessarily involve direct (or even
indirect) contact with the labour-market as it is conventionally understood.
This does not mean that the market is absent, or that it does not operate, but
rather that the particularities of how supply and demand interact, and how
market, policy and civil society articulate in a given locality, may be
sufficiently distinct and complex to warrant less simplistic assumptions and
conclusions on the part of policy-makers with regard to how out-migration
can be stemmed by more closely matching local supply and demand

4.2.2         Current occupational profile of the interviewees

There are essentially two ways of characterising the employment and
occupational profile of the 46 young people interviewed in the county of
(1) according to a standard classification of occupations (as employed in
    the questionnaire survey, which is most conducive to broad
    comparisons between the 7 European study areas analysed in the
    research project as a whole;
(2) using a more ―tailored‖ classification, derived from the concrete
    experience of youth in the specific study area (see below).
The table below presents the employment and occupational profile of
young people in SMP according to the qualitative data provided by the
interview transcripts, an alternative occupational profile was drawn up as

               Table 4.3 - Occupational profile of the sample at time of interview
         Occupation                                                                Nº        %
         Shop/office counter staff                                                 12      26.1
         Administrative/reception/secretarial staff                                 5      10.9
         Job Centre or similar work placements                                      5      10.9
         State or other occupational training courses                               2       4.3
         Registered unemployed (+ undeclared work and/or
         helping out in family enterprise) *                                        4      8.7
         Still studying                                                             5     10.9
         Labourers (building, agricultural)                                         3      6.5
         Public sector employees (post office, police)                              3      6.5
         Apprentices/ (un)skilled workers in production/services                    5     10.9
         Self-employed (restaurant owner)                                           1      2.2
         (Awaiting) military service                                                1      2.2
         TOTAL                                                                     46    100.1
        Source: Fieldwork interviews, SMP 1999-2000.
        * These figures do not correspond to those derived from the Questionnaire survey, which
        were based upon a subjective ―self-identification as unemployed‖ by the subject. Neither is
        this figure based upon merely an official defin ition of unemploy ment, but rather a more
        objective assessment of the interviewee‘s employ ment situation, based upon the details of
        the interview transcripts.

           Counter staff

By far the largest number of young people interviewed (26%) were
working as sales staff behind the counter in retail shops and small service

companies. A minority of these were working in premises owned and
operated by their parents or close relatives. The preponderance of this type
of employment – be it in retail or services – clearly reflects the importance
that traditional commerce, alongside agriculture, has retained in much of
rural Portugal, in the structure of both production and employment. It also
points to the severe difficulties encountered by potential entrepreneurs, on
the one hand, and policy-makers, on the other, in attracting manufacturing
and/or modern service investment to all but the largest of rural population

The interviews also suggested that the degree of stability associated with
this type of retail/services employment cannot, however, be exaggerated.
The tendency has long been for local entrepreneurs to cluster in what are
perceived to be ‗safe‘, if not highly profitable, activities – with bars, cafés
and restaurants being the preferred location for investment. However, even
the smallest towns and the most rural counties are not exempt from the
forces that are currently reshaping production, commerce and services
world-wide. The continued population drift from the villages to small
towns (such as SMP), and thence to administrative centres such as Vila
Real, along with the concentration of more modern retail and service
outlets in larger urban centres, tends to undermine the viability of
traditional small town commerce. However, the pressures to modernise
one‘s enterprise (despite the subsidies available), or set up a new type of
enterprise in situ (as a more attractive investment of capital than low
interest bearing accounts), may substantially increase risk: establishments
as apparently commonplace as an optician‘s shop, a dry cleaning
establishment or a second driving school may appear and disappear within
the space of a year, adding to the volatility of the labour market, and to the
frustrations of youth in the early stages of their employment pathway.

        Lower level administrative employment

There were five cases (11%) of young people employed in a combination
of lower-level secretarial and administrative duties, including acting as a
receptionist. While it might appear that an overlap exists between counter
staff (above) and reception work, a clear distinction existed inasmuch as
the work of the latter involved both a wider range of activities and imposed
greater technical and organisational demands.

        Employment in manufacturing, transport and services
A little under 11% of those interviewed worked as unskilled or semi-skilled
employees in small enterprises, with the emphasis being on transport and
services (drivers, car mechanics, etc), rather than on production as such

(e.g. bakery work). As indicated above, manufacturing is almost totally
absent from in SMP.

       Studying and Working

The interviews also revealed certain employment situations and, indeed,
contours of the school-to-employment transition that the closed nature of
the questionnaire had left hidden. There exists a category of youngsters
who are already working, but mainly — it would seem — with a view to
financing the completion of their secondary or, in exceptional cases, their
higher education. In this sense, they still have one foot in the world of
study and the other in the world of work, and their current job situation
reflected neither necessarily their future plans, nor the direction and
trajectory of their employment pathways. It is common for youngsters who
fail by a relatively small margin to complete the compulsory 9th or
terminal 12th grade of secondary schooling, to maintain their eligibility for
course registration and examination, and to continue to study — either
independently, or through evening classes and/or private tuition — in order
to achieve the qualifications that may benefit them in securing either
employment or, in the case of lower-level qualifications, a place on a
training course. More specifically, those registered as unemployed but not
currently on training programmes or work placements, may also combine
some private study with such undeclared work as may be available.

       Work Placements and Occupational Training

At the time of the interviews, a little over 15% of the sample was involved
either in work placements (5 cases) or in full-time occupational or
vocational training (2 cases). Work placements are allocated by the Job
Centre in Vila Real, administered either by the Local Council, the
Portuguese Youth Institute (IPJ), or some other public body, and
undertaken in a range of public sector establishments (Tourism Office,
local schools, day centres for the elderly, etc.) by those previously
registered as unemployed.

       Agricultural labour

The researchers were initially surprised to encounter only two agricultural
workers in the sample. Very likely, this is not representative of the number
of young people employed on a more or less full time basis in agriculture.
Undoubtedly, most young people in SMP manifest extreme resistance to
agricultural work – except as a temporary holiday job, helping out on the
small family property, or as employment of last resort. However, there

were problems of access, logistics and eventually confidence associated
with undertaking additional interviews in order to redress perceived or
confirmed imbalances in the SMP sample, as had been successfully done
with other youth categories. Firstly, agricultural day labour is often
supplied through recruiting agents (empreiteiros), who negotiate a contract
price with the larger vineyard proprietors and estates (quintas) on the one
hand, and a day-rate with the workers, on the other, their profit coming
from the difference between two. Also, this type of employment and
income is typically undeclared by labourer and empreiteiro alike. Finally,
without the co-operation of the empreiteiro, it is difficult to locate young
agricultural workers to fill in questionnaire surveys and, above all, to
participate in more detailed interviews.


Only one interviewee was currently self-employed as a restaurateur. This
youngster had past experience of running his own business, a sports goods
shop. Other three youngsters were pondering over short-to-medium terms
plans – either independently, or as part of a family strategy – to establish
their own enterprises (in tailoring, in sports goods shop, and in car spares
and accessories). A not insignificant number of youngsters (6, or 13%)
were working full time in family firms, though it was common practice for
others, during periods of unemployment, to sporadically and/or temporarily
help out in family businesses.


4.3.1 From the first experiences to the current job: the volatility of
      employment pathways
The work histories derived from interviews allowed a broad comparison to
be made between (1) the first employment youngsters in SMP encountered
after leaving school; (2) their employment status at the time of the
interview; and (3) subsequent changes that occurred in the 4-6 months
thereafter. Feedback collected during the subsequent group meetings, and a
later round of telephone contacts, made it clear that no fewer than 11 — or
almost a quarter — of these youngsters‘ employment situations had
changed quite dramatically in the 3-4 months since they had been
The table below presents a broad comparison along the lines suggested
above. Changes in the relative weight of each employment category only
hint at the extent and speed of the shifting fortunes of rural youth since,

from the time of entry into employment until the time interviewees were
most recently contacted, they may have not only moved along a given
employment pathway, but also shifted once – or more – from one
occupational category to another. Nevertheless, the figures presented below
do provide some indication of just how volatile some employment
pathways may be.

                     Table 4.4 - Occupational dynamics among SMP youth
                                                         At time of               Trend
                                First                    intervie w     Updated   over
Employme nt/occupation          employment               Nov-Dec 1999 July 2000 time***
category                          Nº    %                  Nº        % Nº       %
Shop/office counter staff          8  17.4                 12      26.1 10 21.7        
Administrative staff               4   8.7                  5      10.9   6 13.0        
Job Centre work placement          6  13.0                  5      10.9   4   8.7       
State or other training courses    0     0                  2       4.3   1   2.2       
Unemployed (+ undeclared           3   6.5                  4       8.7   3   6.5       
Still studying                     5  10.9                   5       10.9       4      8.7           
Labourers (building,               5  10.9                   3        6.5       4      8.7           
Public sector employees            0     0                   3        6.5       2     4.4           
Apprentice/ (un)skilled workers    8  17.4                   5       10.9       5    10.9          
in production/services
Self-employed                      1   2.2                   1         2.2      2      2.2           
―Helping out‖ (in family           6  13.0                   *           *      *        *            -
Compulsory military service        0     0                   1         2.2      2      4.4            
Current situation changed but      0     0                   0           0      4      8.7             -
details unknown/unspecified **
TOTAL                             46 100.0                 46       100.1     46 100.0                 -
Source:Field work interviews, SM P 1999-2000.
*For the purposes of this analysis, in the 2nd and 3rd column, corresponding to later stages in the school-
to-employ ment pathway, ―helping out‖ has been subsumed into the ―unemployed‖ category.
**Despite the lack of detail available, in at least 3 cases, it was clear that the interviewees had found
salaried wo rk in Vila Real, and that the socio-economic space in which the labour market, and/or social
networks functioned, had substantially widened.
***Key to approximate trend over time:  rising trend;  steep rise;  declin ing trend;
 steep decline  trend broadly unchanged.

Overall, while the occupational situation of almost two thirds of the sample
remained unchanged in the period January to July 2000, almost one third
either were no longer working in the same place, had changed occupations,
had lost their job and were unemployed, were jobless and had found work,
or had entered a period of training or work experience. In 4 cases (8.7%), it
was not possible to confirm whether any alterations had taken place.

        Table 4.5 - Changes in occupational/employment situation since interview
                Occupational/employment shift                Nº          %
                January 2000 – July 2000
                Situation unchanged                          29          63,0
                Situation altered                            13          28,3
                Situation unknown                            4           8,7
                TOTAL                                        46          100
               Source: SMP, 2000, field work interv iews and telephone follow -ups

4.3.2     First experiences of employment and unemployment

        Full time employment
The questionnaire survey, which provided a subjective perspective on
young people‘s employment situation, indicated that 7 (15.2%) considered
that they had had full time employment at some time since they left school,
26 (56.5%) saw this as their current position, and 6 (13%) felt that they had
never had a full time job or occupation. The remaining 7 responses were
invalid or not applicable (e.g. referring to those still at school).

        Unemployment experience

Eleven youngsters considered themselves as unemployed, regardless of
being registered at the Job Centre or not. This figure included some of
those on placements, and others who has entered full time training
organised by the Job Centre, who also felt that their situation fell under the
heading of being ―unemployed‖. One young woman gaining work
experience through a Portuguese Youth Institute (IPJ) placement said quite
explicitly ―there‘s no difference between this and being unemployed‖,
referring not to the nature, intensity or utility of the work she was
performing, but to the low salary she was receiving. This figure does not,
therefore, correspond with the results of our analys is of the interview
transcripts, which were based upon a more objective assessment of the
interviewee‘s employment situation, though we did not simply use
―registered as unemployed as our definition. Here 11 respondents self-
identified themselves unemployed.

                Table 4.6 - Unemployment experience since leaving school
                                  late teens    early 20s   mid 20s     all
                                  Nº     %      Nº   %      Nº %        Nº %
  Employed now, with past         1      8.3    4    33.3   7 58.3      12 26.1
  unemployment experience
  currently unemployed            2      18.1   6    54.6   3    27.3   11   23.9
  never been unemployed           4      25.0   4    25.0   8    50.0   16   34.8
  no answer/not applicable        4      57.1   1    14.3   2    28.6    7   15.2
  TOTAL                           11     23.9   15   32.6   20   43.5   46   100.0
  Source: Questionnaire survey, SMP, 2000.

        Initial unemployment, adjustment, and helping out at home
For about three quarters of the youth interviewed, there was a direct
transition from school to first employment of some sort, either with no
intervening period of unemployment, or this being very short (say, up to a
maximum of 3 months). However, at least eleven of the 46 cases (24%) at
some time had experienced a prolonged period of continuous
unemployment (i.e. a year or more), either directly after leaving school, or
after only a short period of initial employment and/or training. There were
further cases of youth experiencing 2 or 3 spells of early unemployment
punctuated by short periods of work and/or training.
Eight (17.4%) of the youngsters interviewed had experienced of
unemployment shortly (though not necessarily immediately) after leaving
school, the duration of which went beyond what one would described as an
initial period of adjustment (of, say, 3 months). Furthermore, at some time
since they left school, 11 (24% of the sample) had experienced what could
be called a prolonged period of continuous unemployment (i.e. a year or
more). However, at the time of interview, only 4 (8.7%) could be
considered to be experiencing long term unemployment at the time of
During such periods of unemployment, if the family has a small business,
farm or vineyard, some of those interviewed helped out, and in a number of
cases this temporary measure tended to become more permanent. The
capacity — albeit limited — of the typical rural family to absorb in this
way sons and daughters who have left school, can provide an important
―cushion‖, while employment options are identified and explored. In some
cases, the inputs provided by youth may be sporadic, largely symbolic and
unpaid while, in others, they may constitute a real and valuable
contribution to the enterprise that may warrant some remuneration over and
above the board and lodging the family normally provides. Furthermore,
integration into family-based economic activity may constitute a launch-

pad in terms of experience, skills and confidence, as well as for the
establishment of networks that may facilitate the search for more definitive
and stable employment.

There were a number of cases of youth ―helping out‖ — either in the
family enterprise or in domestic chores — in which the serious economic
or other difficulties (such as death, or sudden and/or chronic illness) being
experienced by the family had clearly precipitated premature withdrawal
from school. Indeed, the death or chronic illness of a parent, or parents‘
separation or divorce, figure prominently in explaining poor school
performance, the decision to leave school, and the nature and
circumstances of first employment. In the SMP sample, 12 youngsters, or
over a quarter of those interviewed had left school and started work
without completing the statutory 9 grades of schooling.

One of the major concerns recently expressed both by the Portuguese
government and the European Commission, is that many rural youth drop
out of education before reaching the minimum leaving age and without
completing the corresponding minimum of 9th grade schooling.
Between the two extremes described above, there were also cases of
parents who, sometimes against the wishes of their son or daughter, had
made sacrifices in order for them to stay on at school. Faced with
disappointing school performance, parents threatened — with varying
degrees of seriousness — to oblige their offspring to start work, unless the
investment paid better dividends. While the threat of being sent to work in
the vineyards may nowadays be little more than parental hyperbole, its use
reflects not only the hardships of agricultural labour, but also the sense of
betrayal parents may feel when opportunities to which they had no access,
are seemingly ―frittered away‖ by sons and daughters ―who have had
everything they wanted‖.

        Seasonal and casual employment

The interviews gave a rather different picture from the questionnaire survey
with regard to experience of casual and seasonal employment. While this
term is not synonymous with vineyard work in general, and the grape
harvest, in particular, this is the type of work that is locally available on a
casual basis. There were cases of youngsters getting a month‘s work in the
Wine Co-operative, rather than in the vineyards, and of helping with
administrative tasks in the Caixa de Crédito Agrícola (Agricultural Credit
Bank). In addition to the part time work they are offered in Local Council
nurseries or pensioners‘ day centres under the auspices of a work
experience or similar programme, young women also seem to be able to

pick      up      relatively   casual    work     as     child-minders     or
housekeeper/companions for the elderly. The table below gives some
indication of the casual/seasonal work mentioned by interviewees, some of
it restricted to holiday work for school and university students (one quarter
of the cases), the rest being casual work of a more conventional type.

   Table 4.7 - Seasonal and casual work in SMP: occupations mentioned in interviews
          Occupation                        Nº     Occupation                Nº
          Shop assistants                   4      Secretarial/admin work    2
          Winery                            3      Deliveries                1
          Cleaner                           1      Housekeeper/companion     1
          Hairdresser‘s assistant           1      Factory work              1
          Emigrant agricultural work        1      Door to door sales        1
         Source: Fieldwork interviews, SMP, 2000.

It is interesting to note that vineyard work was hardly, if at all, mentioned
in this regard. If we extend the analysis to seasonal/casual and part-time
work, and excluding those still at school, many of whom had considered
the question ‖not applicable‖, well over half of the sample had no
experience whatsoever either of either form of employment.

                 Table 4.8 - Seasonal, casual and part-time work in SMP
                                            seasonal and         part-time work
                                            casual work
                                              Nº        %           Nº         %
       Not currently but in past              12      26.1           9       19.6
       Currently                               0       0.0           5       10.9
       Never                                  27      58.7          25       54.4
       Not applicable/no answer                7      15.2           7       15.2
       TOTAL                                  46     100.0          46      100.0
        Source: Questionnaire survey, SMP, 2000.

        Compulsory military service

In the contacts made to update interviewees‘ employment situations, two
young men had already been called up for military service which,
incidentally, is currently being phased out. However, those who still have
to ―serve their time‖ will continue to confront a dual reality — namely that
military life, on the one hand, can be an unfortunate interruption with
negative effects on a young person‘s employment prospects, while, on the
other hand, it can provide technical skills and general experience that may
facilitate later employment, most particularly in the in the armed services
itself, or in the police service (Guarda Nacional Republicana, Polícia de
Segurança Pública, Guarda Prisional), as well as in other branches of the
security services, private security firms and the Fire Service.

It is worthwhile mentioning that many interviewees — and not only young
males — spoke of their ambition to join one or other branches of the police.
Rural youth face extremely limited employment opportunities in their home
areas and particularly those with modest educational qualifications, and
still see a career in the police force, as they did before the 1974 Revolution,
as offering a way out of the drudgery of agricultural or construction work,
with the added bonuses of job security and social status.

        Time spent in full time employment since leaving school
Based on the questionnaire and interview data, it was possible to estimate
the amount of time spent in full-time employment (excluding paid training
programmes and the like) as a proportion of the time that had elapsed since
leaving school (or attaining legal school-leaving age).

          Table 4.9 - Time spent in full time employment since leaving school
             Time spent in full-time employment             Nº       %
             since leaving school (%)
                      0 – 25                                 7       21
                      26 – 50                               11       32
                      51 – 75                                5       15
                      76 – 100                              11       32
                      TOTAL                                 34    100.0
             Source: Fieldwork interviews, SMP 1999-2000.

These very approximate calculations nevertheless suggest that just under
half of the respondents spent more than 50% of their time in full-time
employment in the first few years after leaving school. Had it been possible
to build a more precise picture of the extent and duration of part-time,
seasonal and unregistered employment, doubtless this figure would have
increased markedly. These results underline the unstable and fragmented
nature of the employment many youth experience in the course of their
school-to work transition.

        Length of first employment and number of jobs held.

It was difficult to be very precise concerning the duration of the first
employment considered by the interviewee to be full time. However, our
best guess, based on estimates of the average length of (a) all discrete
periods of employment, (b) first employment, and (c) current employment
to date26, would suggest figures of around 2 years, 1½ years, and 3 years
respectively. On average, respondents had approximately 2 discrete full
time employment experiences from the time they left school to the date of
the interview.

These results would seem to contradict other evidence suggesting a high
degree of volatility and turnover in young people‘s employment situations.
However, these figures disguise a relatively high degree of variation around
the mean and, in more qualitative terms, point to the existence of an
―employment trap‖, or ―low level equilibrium‖. Many of the longer-term
jobs in question, while stable, consist of ―dead-end‖ work, with little or no
prospect of promotion or improvements in pay.


4.4.1     Towards a typology of employment pathways
The interviews conducted in SMP provided an enormous volume of
evidence regarding the experience of young people as they entered the
world of work for the first time. Detailed reading of the interview
transcripts, with each ‗pass‘ focusing on a different aspect or dimension of
the young person‘s experience 27, permitted a first attempt to be made to
identify distinctive school-to-employment pathways, and the relative
strength of different variables in influencing their direction and dynamic.
The typology of employment pathways presented below was suggested by
this intensive reading and re-reading of the interview transcripts.
Inevitably, there remains some doubt as to whether the employment that
youth had at the time of interview can be regarded as stable and/or
sustainable, and, indeed, if it can be assumed that the transition from school
to stable (if not satisfactory, let alone high quality) employment, in fact, has
been completed. Indeed, in the case of those who had only recently found
employment after training, or after intermittent employment, training
and/or unemployment, the stability of their current situation is difficult to

4.4.2     (A) First steps #1 – Still studying
These youngsters have yet to embark on their pathway towards work and
are still studying full-time at school. Those still in formal schooling may
also have some experience of paid or unpaid employment, (for example,
weekends, in the holidays and/or in their family‘s business) and/or work-
experience placements, and thus may have acquired some skills via formal
or informal training. However, the nature, direction and destination of the
pathway still to be determined. Thus, in addition to this minimal
accumulated experience, a number of other personal, family and/or
structural factors may have already intervened to influence the direction,

contours and trajectory of their future school-to-employment pathway.

4.4.3    (B) First steps #2 – Working and studying

Most of these youngsters have already dropped out of school, but there
exists strong evidence that their focus is on finishing either the compulsory
9th grade, or the pre-university 12th grade, in order to access better
employment opportunities in the short to medium term. Those who have
gained entry to higher education may continue to work with or without the
non-monetary benefits that official worker-student status can confer,
namely the requirement that companies provide such employees with more
flexible working hours. Registered unemployment (with or without
undeclared work/income) and/or part-time work are also seen as a means to
achieving this immediate educational end.

4.4.4    (C) First steps #3 or Unstable Pathway #1 – Indeterminate
In these cases, the time elapsed since reaching school-leaving age and/or
leaving school and actively seeking employment, or emerging from a
period of unemployment, is insufficient, and work and/or training other
experience too brief, to draw conclusions concerning the likely pathway
and outcome.

4.4.5    (D) Unstable pathway #2 – Complex, unpredictable outcome

Here, the transition from school to work is still incomplete. The time
elapsed since leaving school tends to be relatively short, as do any periods
of unemployment. Regardless of whether the subject was employment or
registered as unemployed at the time of the interview, the school-to-work
pathway to date is characterised by a complex pattern of distinct, short-
lived, sometimes superimposed phases, including intermittent and
interrupted work experiences, training, multiple job-holding, short periods
of unemployment, part-time work combined with part-time training, etc.
These patterns may be even more complex, if youth engage in periods of
short-term emigrant labour (particularly at harvest time). This tendency,
which exacerbates the difficulties of recruiting labour for the grape harvest
in SMP, was pointed out by a number of our key informants.

4.4.6    (E) Stable pathway #3 – (Un)Interrupted exclusion

This group‘s pathway to current long term unemployment – i.e. a situation
characterised by a relatively stable exclusion – may have been direct and

uninterrupted (i.e. without ever having found employment), or indirect and
interrupted (i.e. having been previously employed but subsequently lost
their job). This is equivalent to long term unemployment. This category
may also include those experiencing a particular form of ―stable
exclusion‖, i.e. those registered as unemployed, yet in ―full-time‖
undeclared work.

4.4.7    (F) Stable pathway #2 – Interrupted (possibly precarious)
This category‘s current situation and pathway to date would suggest that a
trajectory towards stable employment has now been established. However,
the first experience of employment may have been preceded by a
(sometimes significant) period of unemployment, possibly punctuated by
some form of programme-based training, or work placement, before lasting
employment is found.
It should be stressed, that stability of employment is (i) not necessarily
synonymous with quality employment; and (ii) does not necessarily
preclude a degree of contractual and/or institutional precariousness, as in
the case of workers employed on a succession of short and/or part-time
contracts, often with no or low social benefits. Thus their social exclusion
often outweighs the extent of the economic inclusion they ―enjoy‖.

4.4.8    (G) Stable pathway #1 – Direct, uninterrupted inclusion
A transition to apparently stable employment (with or without participation
in a training or work experience placement) has been concluded with few if
any interruptions i.e. only short periods of ―frictional‖ unemployment,
illness, etc., not exceeding three months. Evidence of employment of a
precarious nature is minimal or absent.

Using the above typology, the table below shows the relative weight of
each of the fairly distinct pathway categories identified during the course of
analysing the interview transcripts. It should be emphasised that this
typology, like all others, in fact, constitutes a continuum. The nature of the
third category — in which it is ―too soon to tell‖ what the precise nature of
the employment pathway will be, underlines this point. Given this caveat,
and the size of the sample, the percentages attributed to each type of
employment pathway are merely suggestive of current trend among youth
in SMP.

                       Table 4.10 - Typology of employment pathways

          PATHWAY TYPE                          Inte rvie wees                Nº     %
A-FIRST STEPS 1 studying full time              26, 36, 45, 38                 4    8.6
B-FIRST STEPS 2 working and completing          5, 6, 9, 15, 25, 35
                studies                                                        6   13.0
C-FIRST STEPS 3 indeterminate                   7, 12, 29, 30, 34, 37, 39,
UNSTABLE 1                                      40, 41                         9   19.6
D-UNSTABLE 2    complex unpredictable           17, 22, 46
                pathway                                                        3    6.5
E-STABLE 3      (un)interrupted exclusion       18, 20, 43                     3    6.5
F-STABLE 2      interrupted (yet                8, 10, 11, 21, 32
                precarious?) inclusion                                         5   10.9
G-STABLE 1      direct/uninterrupted            1, 2, 3, 4, 13, 14, 16, 19,
                inclusion                       23, 24, 27, 28, 31, 33, 42,
                                                44                            16 34.9
TOTAL                                                                         46 100.0
Source: Fieldwork interviews, SMP 1999-2000.

If we exclude those in full time education (A), we find that 38% of the
young people interviewed could be regarded as having completed a
relatively satisfactory transition to stable employment (G). If we also
include those whose pathway to employment stability has been interrupted
and may still be characterised by a marked degree of precariousness (F),
the proportion of youth with a low to moderate degree of economic
exclusion – in the limited employment-related sense of the term – increases
to exactly 50% of the of the sample.

As to the rest, over one in five (21.4%) remain in a highly indeterminate
situation, with as much evidence arguing for a satisfactory as for an
unsatisfactory outcome (C). Indeed, by bracketing along with this category
both those working and still studying (B), and those with somewhat longer
but more complex employment patterns (D), many of whom have also only
recently left school, we find that in 18 cases (or almost 43% of the sample),
it really is too soon to determine the future direction their pathways will
take, though, in many cases, the degree of economic exclusion currently
experienced by this category should be regarded as moderate to high.

Finally, there were 3 cases of youngsters whose employment histories
suggest that they should be categorised as in long term unemployment,
constituting 7% of the total (again excluding those still in full time
education). In these cases, the extent of economic exclusion is undoubtedly


4.5.1        Introduction

The set of diagrams below schematise all 7 types of employment pathway
defined above and, while they are stylised and hypothetical, they are
nevertheless representative of the experiences of many of the youth
interviewed in SMP.
                                    COMPLETING SECONDARY SCHOOL,
A            SCHOOL > > >
                                       AIMING AT HIGHER EDUCATION

                                     EVENING CLASSES / PRE-UNIVERSITY WORKER-STUDENT
B         SCHOOL (12th grade)                                            PAID TRAINING
                                    PART TIME WORK   UNEMPLOYMENT           SCHEME

C   SCHOOL (9th grade)   UNEMPLOYMENT        1st EMPLOYMENT

     SCHOOL                                   PAID TRAINING   MIGRANT WORK           1st
                    UNEMPLOYMENT                 SCHEME
    (6th grade)                                               (Spain, Switzerland) EMPLOY.
                                UNDECLARED WORK
                                        PART TIME WORK

     SCHOOL                                   PAID TRAINING      UNDECLARED WORK
E                   UNEMPLOYMENT                 SCHEME
    (7th grade)

F   SCHOOL (9th grade)   1st EMPLOYMENT         UNEMPLOYMENT            2nd EMPLOYMENT

G         SCHOOL (12th grade)            1st EMPLOYMENT           2nd EMPLOYMENT

                      Figure 7 – Typical pathways from school to work

4.5.2        Pathways and turning points.

Just as there is a high degree of variation and specificity in the pathways
followed by rural youth in acquiring their first employment or, indeed,
failing to find any stable or quality livelihood, the crucial turning points in
these pathways will also have quite distinct compositions and complexions.
These turning points nevertheless provide us with insights into how key
variables in rural economy and society may interact.

In some cases, one turning point will be decisive; in other cases, a series of
such points, some positive, others negative may come successively into
play — with some, perhaps, even dampening the effect of others; in still
other cases, a vicious downward spiral, or a virtuous upward trajectory may
result from a series of key moments in the school-to-work transition.

Possibly the best way to conceptually organise these variables, in order to
make sense of the first employment experiences of almost fifty young
people in SMP, is to think not only in terms of a typology of pathways, but
also a typology of turning points — both positive and negative (i.e. leading
to greater chances of inclusions, or exclusion, respectively). However, such
an exercise goes beyond the scope of the present report. Nevertheless, with
a view to identifying more clearly possible policy responses to the
specificities of rural employment problems in Portugal, it would be helpful
to look at some examples of such turning points that, while they are
hypothetical, broadly reflect the situations encountered in the interviews
and in the focus group meetings with youth from SMP.

The diagram below presents a detailed summary of the forces shaping the
employment path of a hypothetical, but entirely representative, case. The
aim is to illustrate not only the range, but also the interplay of variables that
appear to determine employment outcomes among SMP youth. For the
sake of diagrammatic simplicity, it is assumed that the impact of factors
influencing the direction and dynamic of the employment pathway is felt at
the end of a distinct stage when, in reality, their impact may be felt
throughout that stage and even beyond.

                         An illustrative example of the forces and factors influencing transition
peer pressure     father‘s          uncle‘s                              summer vacation                           volunteer with local
and youth role    death             friend on                            spent improving                           Chamber of Commerce
 model                              Town Council                         French with father‘s                      at national Trade Fair
                                                                         emigrant relatives

  SCHOOL          UNEMPLOYMENT                              TRAINING                   EMPLOYMENT (1)                                    EMPLOYMENT (2)
leaves without          9 months‘ on                        6 month EU            replacement for receptionist on                        administrative job with
  completing      unemployment register                        funded             maternity leave at country hotel                        tourism wing of local
   final year    without successful job or                 traineeship in          participating in rural tourism                       development association
                    training placement                    Tourism Office                       project

                                                                                                                   formal job application
poor career       inappropriate                          mother‘s links with                                       submitted competitively
advice            training options                       local development (LEADER)                                yet subject to influence
                  refused                                association

KEY:                   fact o r w it h l i mi t ed in f lu en ce                SCHOOL      p h as es o f s ch o o l-t o -e mp lo y men t p at h way

                       fact o r w it h mo d e r at e i n f lu en ce                         t u rn in g p o in t s in s ch o o l -t o -e mp lo y men t p at h way

                       fact o r w it h s ig n i f ican t in f lu en ce

Finally, we provide a set of diagrams summarising data from 5 of the
interviews undertaken, representative of each of the fairly distinct
employment pathways (B – F) to be found between the two poles of the
continuum presented above, namely (A) youth still at school, and (G) those
who have made a direct transition from school to stable employment. No
diagrams are provided for Types A and G, due to the fact that their interviews
provide far less insight into the way in which the school-to-work transition or
particular types of employment pathway function.
      A. First steps (still in full-time education)

      B. First steps (working & completing studies)
      C. First steps / Unstable pathway (indeterminate outcome)

      D. Unstable (complex, unpredictable) pathway
      E. Stable pathway (interrupted exclusion – long term unemployment)

      F. Stable pathway (interrupted inclusion)

      G. Stable pathway (direct, uninterrupted inclusion)

The diagrams also attempt to specify in detail (1) which factors determine
particular employment outcomes, and (2) which of those factors have the
greater influence over the direction and dynamic of the school-to-work
transition. Each diagram is accompanied by a brief summary of the
interviewee‘s employment history to date, presented in narrative form
(pathway summary), followed by a diagnosis of the pathway in question,
based on the key forces that appear to have influenced their employment
pathways (pathway diagnosis). The pathway diagnosis focuses on the key
forces that individually or in combination, influence successive phases of the
employment pathway, and its major turning points (highlighted in grey),

1) Initiative, i.e. the attitude and motivation of the interviewee, as
   determined both by personal psychology, and by various forms of both
   proximate and general socialisation;
2) Policy, typically mediated through the national and local state, and/or local
   public sector institutions and/or private organisations to which training or
   other responsibilities have been transferred; here a further distinction is
   made between (a) school, (b) employment-related services such as the Job
   Centre and (c) various types of training;

3) Social networks – whether based on parents, neighbours and friends of
   the family, friends of the interviewee him/herself, political parties and
   other political structures and organisations (in particular, the Local
   Council), professional and other types of associations; these may be based
   on solidarity, or may be of a more clientelist nature; they may function
   fairly autonomously with substantially symmetrical relations between
   participants, or they can be characterised by relations of markedly
   asymmetrical interdependence, mediating between those wielding
   economic and/or political power, and those seeking personal advancement;
4) The market, which, in a sense, acts as a proxy both for some of the key
   structural constraints and for the employment opportunities that the young
   school leaver confronts.

In summary, then, as can be seen from the diagrams that follow, rural youth
confront a number of possible turning points, and their employment paths
may be moulded by a succession of such positive and negative influences. As
suggested above, most are the result of the structure and functioning of the
market, business and related organisations, the public institutional
apparatus, the policy framework, and social networks and make up the
overall ―external‖ environment youth confront. Its various components
overlap and interact, and function at local, regional, national and international
levels. Clearly, there is also a more overtly subjective dimension — what we
might call the ―internal environment‖ of school-to-employment pathways,
that influences these transitions, resulting from the interaction between, on the
one hand, the complex of external factors sketched above and, on the other,
individual (and group) preferences, motivations and ambitions.

Rosa (09), female, aged 20, on a placement scheme, working as a school administrative assistant.

     SCHOOL                                           studying alone to complete 12th grade by re-sitting exams
                                                             WORK PLACEMENT
    left before                             via Job Centre in office of local school 2 contract renewals
  completing 12th                                                                                                                                 EMPLOYMENT
       grade                                                                                                                                      fixed term contract
                                         evening classes taken in: accounts, administrative skills, commercial
                                            management, information technology, small business start-up

PATHWAY S UMMARY. Rosa is determined and proactive. She had always wanted to study Greek and Lat in at Un iversity but, in her final year at sc hool, she had her very
first experience of failure. Much against the wishes of her parents, she decided not to repeat the year, but to look for work and study on her own. She looked into going back
to school briefly, with a view to taking alternative subjects to complete her 12th grade, but realised this route would divert her fro m her amb ition. The Job Centre offered her
a 6-month work placement through the Local Council, attached to a school as an administrative assistant. Whenever she found a tra ining course that she thought would
broaden her knowledge and skills and that fitted in with her timetable, even if it didn‘t contribute directly to her ambit ions, she‘d register for it , and now regularly attends
classes 3 nights a week. Rosa says that you can never know too much, and even if she‘s had enough of school, this type of studying is good therapy. She also joined the
youth wing of the party currently in office in SMP, not only because she feels there are still many imp rovements to be made in the locality, but also because she recognised
that membership might provide her with useful contacts for emp loyment. Rosa‘s contract has been renewed twice, once from budget of the Unemploy ment Fund, and then
again via the Occupational Programme. Four months after the interview, she was offered a fixed term contract.

PATHWAY DIAGNOSIS. It was Rosa own INITIATIVE to leave school, judging that it had failed her (either by not detecting and/or not supporting her academic
amb itions). Her FAMILY d isapproved, obliging her init ially to stand on her own two feet, while provid ing fallback support. The JOB CENTRE finds it particularly
difficult to provide jobs for youth with above-average qualifications. The placement component of POLICY has nevertheless served Rosa well several times, though
vocational TRAINING was largely irrelevant to her ultimate goal. The very attitude an d INITIATIVE wh ich may not have served Rosa best interests initially, were
nevertheless determinant in the subsequent construction of her own pathway: (1) she built her own SOCIAL NETWORKS via party membership, school and training, and
these may have been the decisive factor in the continuation of her contracts; (2) she saw her own TRAINING init iatives mainly as a means of remaining motivated while
working towards her academic ambitions. Train ing has added to her employability in the MARKET, but given the severe constraints on local opportunities and demand, to
date the market has pot played a prominent role in Rosa‘s employ ment pathway.

Graça (37), female, aged 21, seamstress in Vila Real workshop and self-employed tailoress at home.

         SCHOOL                          NON-FORMAL                       TRAINING                                           EMPLOYMENT
   completed compulsory                APPRENTICESHIP                   Goes to Porto for 3                            seamstress in tailor‘s workshop
     9th grade in SMP,                    elects to work 8               months; parents                                SELF-EMPLOYMENT
  and 12th grade in Régua                 months in SMP                  pay for private                                        tailoress
     due to lack of job                (unpaid) in which she               professional
 opportunities and training              added little to her              dressmaking
           options                      existing knowledge                    course                                 correspondence course in clothes design

PATHWAY S UMMARY. Graça‘s childhood dream was to have her own clothes shop and eventually become a fashion designer. Her mother advised her t o stay on at
school and, anyway, there weren‘t any training courses locally in her chosen profession. She resisted attempts by staff at the JOB CENTRE to enrol her on the courses they
were under pressure to fill, which had nothing to do with tailoring. So she worked for 8 months as the unpaid apprentice of a tailoress in SMP, though she learned very little
she didn‘t know already. Then, despite their very modest income, her parents paid the fees, board and lodging for a dressmaking course in Porto, the first time she had ever
left home. On her return they helped her buy a sewing machine and she is trying to build up a clientele, with a view to eventually opening a shop. With the help of friends,
she started looking for work and, in the end, had to turn down several offers when the right opportunity came up in Vila Real to comb ine learning and earning, albeit at a low
wage. The transport problem was solved by neighbours who commuted there daily. She doesn‘t earn much, but it‘s enough to start thinking about her dream again. She has
enrolled on a correspondence course in clothes design and also works fro m home whenever peo ple order clothes or ask for alterations to be made.

PATHWAY DIAGNOS IS. Neither Graça‘s abilities nor her ambit ion were detected at SCHOOL, and the TRAINING services failed to provide her with a course relevant
to her needs. The local labour MARKET had little to offer in the way of emp loy ment opportunities, and yet it was the PRIVATE S ECTOR through which she was able,
finally, to train, though this meant moving temporarily to Porto. The FAMILY, despite its poor earnings base, has played a fundamental role in funding her schooling,
training and her equipment. The network of support provided by the family‘s NEIGHBOURS and Graça‘s FRIENDS were also crucial in helping to find work, and in
lowering transport costs. Throughout it was probably Graça‘s own INITIATIVE and perseverance (looking for information, training opportunities) and vision (the fact that
she seemed to have ―seen the film before it began‖) that contributed most to her current employment situation. However, the ―film‖ isn‘t over yet, and Graça‘s employ ment
pathway is far fro m being stable.

Filipe (46), aged 22, male, aspiring footballer with emigrant parents.

                   UNEMPLOY                                                                                                                                 TRAINING
                                                                                                                EMPLOY             UNEMPLOY
                     MENT                                                                                                                                 PROGRAMME
                                                               EMPLOYMENT               TRAINING                  MENT                MENT
                                         UNEMPLOY             building contractors    PROGRAmME                construction         (Portugal)
 SCHOOL           NONFORMAL                                                                                                                                 12 months,
                                             MENT                   (France)              (France)               in France          with some
 10th grade       APPRENTICE                                                                                                                               Parks/ Gardens
                                         brief period on                                 9 months            labour agencies      undeclared work
  (France)             SHIP                                                                                                                                 Management
                                        return to France                               waiters and bar
                   football trials                                                                            FOOTBALL
                                                                FOOTBALL                    staff                                               FOOTBALL
                     (Portugal)                                                                                wages + win
                                                              wages + win bonus                                                               wages + win bonus

PATHWAY S UMMARY. Filipe, the son of Portuguese emig rants, was brought up in France. He en joyed school, but left at the end of 10th grade to try his luck in
professional football. He had played in the local league, but judged that his chances were better in Portugal. He stayed for 6 mo nths with an aunt in Porto, unemployed, wh ile
applying for trials with top level Portuguese clubs. The only trial he had was with a minor team, but he was not offered a con tract. Crestfallen, he returned to France and
worked for 2 years in construction, before opting for a 9 month government training s cheme for waiters and bar staff. Once trained, he concluded that he would only find the
work he wanted in Paris, wh ich meant incurring liv ing costs beyond his expected salary. He returned to construction work for 3 months, but this time working through
agencies rather than for building contractors. Filipe decided to return to Portugal, to see if there were better training and employment opportunities there. He says he hasn‘t
really grasped how politics work locally, and this may be a disadvantage for him. He started playing football in SMP for a small wage and, after 6 months, the Job Centre
suggested he enrol on a year-long course in Parks & Gardens Management – not what he had in mind, but essentially the first career-oriented training opportunity that he
was offered. He‘s not sure if it will lead to anything, or whether he‘s the type to set up a small business, but he‘s not dis counting anything at present.

PATHWAY DIAGNOSIS. Filipe confronts the MARKET (not to mention the importance of NETWORKS largely unknown to him) when he puts his foot on the first
rung of the professional football ladder. This was his dream, and he pursued it using his own INITIATIVE and FAMILY connections, not to mention the LUCK that‘s
always necessary. However, his own PERSONALITY tends to be somewhat introverted – even more so in Portugal, where he‘s a rural Franco-Portuguese, than ―back
home, where he‘s an urban Luso-Frenchman. Back in France, his FRIENDS provide him with contacts in the building sector when he‘s forced to return, and the MARKET
does the rest, though Filipe‘s SCHOOL qualifications may have fitted him fo r other opportunities. With regard to football, Filipe is still highly motivated and driven, but
outside of football, he‘s is very pragmat ic: (1) he accepted a training opportunity provided by the JOB CENTRE in Tours that diverged both from h is sporting ambition
and his work experience, and which seems, on reflection, not to have improved his local employability; (2) the JOB CENTRE in SMP at least offered him an option that is
laterally connected to his construction experience, and which may lead to local (self) employ ment opportunities. However, his absence from the key political NETWORKS
of influence in SMP, and what he regards as a crucial lack of public informat ion on POLICY and on TRAINING (part icularly in mastering Portuguese language), may
further hold up his progress.

Luzia (20), female, aged 25, long term unemployed; just lost first „real‟ job.

         SCHOOL                         UNEMPLOYMENT                                             UNEMPLOYMENT
                                            2 years                                                  1 year                     EMPLOYMENT
                                                                         PLACEMENT                                                                        UNEMPLOYMENT
 completed co mpulsory                                                                                                            counter staff
                                                                         in kindergarten              TRAINING
 schooling (9th grade in                                                                                                            opticians
                                            TRAINING                      via Job Centre          computers evening
SMP; 12th grade in Régua)
                                             accounts                                            classes 3 nights/week

PATHWAY S UMMARY. Lu zia always wanted to join the police force and, though she fulfilled all the academic and psychological criteria, she twice failed the physical
tests and is now ―too old‖ to re-apply. She stayed on at school because there were no job opportunities locally that were of interest to her. Her sister was luckier, in a sense,
but had to give up a university place when a good job offer came along. Lu zia co mes fro m a family of eight children, wh ich h as faced economic d ifficu lties ever since, after
32 years‘ service, her father lost the land he sharecropped, and his ‗tied‘ house, when the property changed hands. Her moth er is chronically ill, and receives an invalidity
pension. Even before Lu zia left school, she had taken the tests to become an educational au xiliary and, during her first 2 years of unemploy ment, took a short train ing course
in accounts and applied for entry into the Civil Service, to work in Social Security. The only real ‗succes s‘ she achieved was to be offered emp loyment at a school in
Gu imarães, 75 kilo metres fro m SMP. Reluctantly, she turned it down, because the travel and accommodation costs would have consumed most of her salary, and because
her mother suffered a second stroke and needed continuous care. Eventually, the Job Centre found her a work p lacement in a ch ild ren‘s nursery in SMP, where sh e stayed for
two 6-month contracts. After this, she was unemployed again, and it was only after a year that she found a job behind the counter in an optician‘s shop. The shop closed after
only a year, and Luzia became unemployed again.

PATHWAY DIAGNOSIS. Luzia is caught between her strong sense of responsibility towards her parents, and a yearning for independence, as express ed in her
perseverance and personal INITIATIVE. However, SCHOOL failed to detect and/or help realise her ambit ion, and seems to have endured an initial period of long term
unemploy ment without effective support from public INSTITUTIONS, in particular the JOB CENTRE. Seemingly, the FAMIL Y has been unable to deploy social
NETWORKS to any great extent or effect, perhaps as a result of the recent abrupt reversal in its fortunes. POLICY often fails not just directly due to poor conception by
policy makers and deficient execution by emp loyment services, but also indirectly and in the long term. Rural families have child - and health-care needs unmet by either
state- or privately provided care services; thus social POLICY fails the rural elderly and, in comb ination with low wage levels, undermines the ability of the young to take
up such job opportunities that the MARKET may provide. The way in which reg ional labour MARKET and human resources POLICY in education (teaching,
administrative and auxiliary staff) function, forces many to bear excessive costs of travel and accommodation i.e. a long term career investment that school leavers and
unemployed cannot yet afford. Another way in wh ich the MARKET impinges negatively on successful school-work transitions is due to the fact that, even though there
exist numerous employ ment opportunities for counter staff in SMP town, the viability of s mall town retailing and services is extremely fragile and subject to high risk.

Gonçalo (10), aged 24, male, building worker and migrant farm hand.

                                                               AGRICULTURAL LABOUR                                                    EMPLOYMENT
                                                                    Casual (SMP)                                                     Construction (SMP)
       only completed 3 of the
   6 years of compulsory schooling                                                    SEASONAL MIGRANT LABOUR
                                                                                           agriculture (France, Spain)
                                                                        EVENING CLASSES
                                                                        unsuccessful attempt to
                                                                          complete 4th grade

PATHWAY S UMMARY. Gonçalo co mes fro m what is conventionally termed a dysfunctional family. His mother and alcoholic father separated, and he was obliged to
drop out of school with only 3 years completed. His elder sister was rarely at home. His father drank heavily, and had never bothered much about Gonçalo‘s schooling, so it
fell to him to look after his younger brothers and sister, and to bring meals to his father, who worked on the Council road -mending gangs. His father remarried and Gonçalo
didn‘t get on with his stepmother, so at 17, he went to live with his uncle. Until then, Gonçalo had been working casually as a farm labourer, mostly in SMP, but also in
Spain and France. His uncle said he could earn more in construction work, and that a contractor in the village would take him on, and would give him time off in slack
periods to do harvest work abroad. Gonçalo is now married, with a young son, and his wife works as a farm labourer. Though he ‘s functionally illiterate, he‘s managed to
arrange all the paper work to get a mortgage to buy the old stone cottage he dreamed of living in as a boy. The other dream h e had was to train to be a chef, but without
complet ing his compulsory education, he wouldn‘t be accepted onto a training course .

PATHWAY DIAGNOS IS. Gonçalo‘s experience of the FAMILY was complex. His ―primary‖ FAMILY gave him no support, obliged him to work at home, and ruined
any chances he had of getting basic education. But his ―secondary‖ family provided the basis for positive change, both directly and through his uncle‘s sound advice, and his
NETWORK of contacts in the village. His own young family is a source of pride and mot ivation, and he intends to contribute to community life through the folklore group.
His educational shortcomings, which ADULT EDUCATION programmes were unable to correct, have admin istratively excluded him fro m anything other than on -the-job
TRAINING. No one seems to have detected or tested his capacities for TRAINING in the restaurant trade. His lack of schooling and the nature of the local labour
MARKET limited his options to agriculture, in the first instance, but he was quick to seize the opportunity to earn better wages in harvest work abroad. His transfer to and
training in construction work was the result of a PERSONAL NETWORK rather than the operation of the MARKET o r t he efforts of the JOB CENTRE. Indeed, the
friendly and trusting RELATIONS HIP Gonçalo has established with the building contractor allows him continue to do season farm work abroad when construction work is
scarce. Failed first by his PARENTS, then by the STATE, Gonçalo‘s ability to overcome a series of disadvantages, is mainly due to positive FAMILY re-d irection of his
emp loyment pathway, to his own INITIATIVE and willingness to work, either at ho me or abroad, in the two segments of the labour MARKET that provide regular work to
unskilled labour. Parado xically, perhaps, Gonçalo was excluded least of all by the local housing and national finance MARKETS and was able to both meet h is housing
needs and realise a boyhood dream.

4.5.3 Factors facilitating and inhibiting the transition to stable
We are now in a position to move back from illustrative individual case-
studies to the sample as a whole, with a view to examining in broader terms
the ways in which specific factors may facilitate or inhibit more stable and
satisfactory school-to-employment transitions.

       Schooling and employment success

While the majority of youth in SMP encounter difficulties in completing
the transition from school to work, it is primarily those with better
qualifications (measured by the number years of school completed) that
have the most protracted problems. Of those who had failed to complete
9th grade (currently, the compulsory minimum level of schooling), 58%
made a direct and uninterrupted transition to employment, while 71% of
those who had entered the final phase of secondary school (10th – 12th
grade) had experienced unemployment after leaving school.

       Family trauma and employment prospects.
A family trauma, such as divorce, the death or long-term serious illness of a
parent, or an abrupt deterioration in economic circumstances, can be
instrumental in blocking off an educational, training or employment option
that otherwise could have led to a better pathway. At the very least, in
addition to one family break-up, there were 4 other cases in which a parent
died at a relatively early age, two further cases of family impoverishment –
either chronic or sudden, and a number of other cases of a chronically ill
parent requiring constant care. Thus over 15% of the respondents had had
to confront family traumas while attempting to identify and follow a
satisfactory school-to-employment pathway.

There are other changes in family circumstances that may have a crucial
impact on the direction, trajectory, duration and, ultimately the success or
otherwise of a given individual‘s transition from school to work. For
example, in the Douro Valley, as elsewhere in rural Portugal, the
(temporary) emigration of parents or other close relatives can have a
substantial effect on the opportunity structure facing those who remain.
Many of the youth interviewed and, indeed, most of the families in the
study area, have first hand experience of long term separation from one or
both parents during periods of emigrant employment; this often means
growing up in an uncle‘s or grandmother‘s home. Others have less direct
experience, via the emigration of uncles and aunts, cousins, etc., which

nonetheless may mean a change in the economic and/or housing conditions
faced by their own family, with their parents undertaking the long term care
of nephews and nieces).

Concrete cases range from a temporary setback or reversal of a son or
daughter‘s plans caused by a parent‘s illness, to real and lasting economic
deprivation of a whole family beset by a combination of mutually
reinforcing problems. The experience of one interviewee, who incidentally
had courageously overcome the disadvantages he had confronted as a child
in what could only be described as a classic dysfunctional family,
eloquently illustrates the effect family trauma(s) can have on the school-to-
work transition.

     ―My dad was a labourer on the Council‘s road-mending gangs
     and, well, there wasn‘t much chance of me staying on at school,
     because I was always having to take him his lunch wherever he
     was working. He drank a lot, too, so when my mother ran off,
     someone had to look after the house and the other 4 children.
     Anyway, I never got to be one of those people who reads and
     writes well. I didn‘t get on with his new wife either, so when I
     was 17, I went to live with my uncle. He got me started in the
     construction business — the builder I work for is from the same
     village. When things are quiet, I go abroad for the tomato or
     strawberry harvest. Some of my friends have ended up in
     prison, you know, but I‘ve managed to avoid that. I‘ve got my
     own wife and kids now‖.

                                           Gonçalo (10), 24 years old

       Advice and guidance from teachers and career advisors

A committed teacher with good formal or informal skills in (1) detecting
students‘ capacities, talents, ambitions and dreams, and/or (2) with good
formal or informal career advisory skills, may be a crucial factor in turning
around what appeared to be an unpromising or even disruptive student 28. It
is equally the case that a school without such staff skills, or without the
time to deploy them, may constitute a key element in the frustration of a
young person‘s ambitions, or in the failure to realise his or her
potentialities. A similar argument can be mounted to indicate the positive
or negative influence of the Employment Services, in general, and/or
specific policy measures, in particular. As indicated above, youth
evaluations of the career guidance and support provided by school are not
positive, and attitudes towards the IEFP are markedly negative.

While students recognise that, due to pressure of work, teachers may have
relatively little time for such activities, it is not untypical to attribute the
problem to a certain routinism and lack of foresight on the part of schools.
Teachers are right to point to the excessive demands made on them as a
result of the continuous changes to both curricula and the school
management model that recent educational reforms and modernisation have
imposed. Nevertheless, the result is that, despite the best of intentions and
often legitimate excuses, schools leave students technically, motivationally
and attitudinally ill-prepared for the difficult transition to the world of

        Information, guidance and training provided through the Job
The performance of the Job Centres, managed by the IEFP (Institute for
Employment and Professional Training) and located in only some of the
county seats, is in part inhibited by the strict limitations that both the law
and deeply-entrenched bureaucratic practices impose on the scope of their
operations. The remit of the Centres is to act exclusively as a mediator
between the private sector and those seeking new or first employment. This
limitation is all the greater since it is the Local Council and the public
sector (the latter still growing in size, and as part of the recently published
Plano Operacional da Economia, soon to be more regionally decentralised)
remains one of the key direct and indirect employers in the less favoured
most rural areas. However, due to the fact that all public sector posts have
to be advertised 29 and the details subject to public scrutiny, there appears
to be no requirement that Job Centres be involved, or that they even be
informed of public sector posts which may be of interest to school leavers
(and others) on their registers.
Currently, in addition to placing youngsters in temporary work in the
―social market‖ (in close liaison with Local Councils and organisations
such as the IPJ, the Portuguese Youth Institute), the Job Centre in Vila Real
annually finds private sector employment for approximately 600
individuals, and supports self-employment initiatives (i.e. micro-enterprise
start-ups) for around the same number, in the 7 counties for which it is
responsible (third Focus Group meeting; senior officer of IEFP, Vila Real).
The majority of this zone‘s population, and therefore the IEFP‘s
―clientele‖, is concentrated in counties such as Vila Real with more
substantial urban centres than, for example, SMP where, in 1998, there
were 315 registered unemployed in SMP (210 seeking new employment,
and 105 first-time job seekers). These figures would suggest that the
IEFP‘s efforts have a somewhat modest impact on the employment

situations of the majority of job-seekers in SMP. Indeed, the IEFP seems to
have rather most success in placing youth who already have full-time work

Youth who have never had recourse to the employment services have a
more positive albeit abstract view of the IEFP‘s usefulness and
performance. However, first-time job-seekers are the most critical: most of
them – speaking from personal experience of being unemployed —
considered the IEFP to be at best unhelpful and at worst irrelevant to
finding work. They register at the IEFP in order to be eligible for training
and/or placements, and not in expectation of ever getting a job. They tend
to distrust the Job Centre because of what they perceive as the inefficiency,
indifference and/or demotivating attitude of its staff.
They are also conscious of the length of time that passes without any
significant action being taken. Official figures for the length of time people
been registered at the Job Centre, while they relate to all age groups in
SMP, are revealing, as are the comments of selected interviewees: of the
315 people on the Job Centre‘s register in 1998, 62 (20%) had been
registered there for up to 3 months, 95 (30% for between 3 and 12 months,
and 158 (50%) for a year or more (IEFP, 1998).
     I‘ve been registered there since I was 18, and they‘ve never
     been in touch with me.
                                            Zulmira (24), 22 years old

     I registered up there in Vila Real, but they‘ve never contacted
     me for anything.
                                               Rute (08), 24 years old

     I had to register three times, and the last time they managed to
     lose the papers for a training course. It was last September, I
     went back there, and they said there was something wrong with
     my application, they‘d lost something, and I‘d have to start all
     over again.
                                               Luisa (45), 18 years old

     I was registered as looking for work. They sent me a letter for
     me to go to a meeting, or something. I didn‘t go. I didn‘t have
     time. I had a bit of work then, but no car, and my father was
     away. Then they said my registration had been cancelled and
     I‘d have to re-apply.

                                               Olga (01), 20 years old
Only three who had been unemployed in the past – all of whom also had
prior experience of full time employment – attributed any of their
subsequent success to the employment services, as did some of the very
few involved in state-sponsored training schemes. While it is incumbent
upon professional advisors to be realistic, there were numerous complaints
that Job Centre staff typically adopt such a pessimistic view of employment
opportunities that youth were easily demotivated — not from finding work,
but from using the employment services for this purpose. Thus, under the
prevailing circumstances, youth are forced to become more self-motivating.

     I went into the Job Centre to register, and came away
     completely disillusioned. Honestly, they gave me no help
     whatsoever. Quite the opposite. All they said was that it was
     going to be really difficult to find a job, because I didn‘t have
     any experience. Of course, it‘s true, but I knew that already. I
     didn‘t need to go to the Job Centre to figure that one out!
                                  Graça (37), 21 years old, seamstress

Furthermore, youngsters also did not speak very highly of the quality of the
vocational and employment guidance they received at the Job Centres and
their experiences of counselling there were broadly negative. Advice often
appeared irrelevant, or at least its relevance was poorly explained, and did
not take into account either the personal circumstances of the proposed
trainee, or the cost and/or availability of, for example, local child-care
services. There appeared to be little concern over the preferences and
ambitions of young people themselves, a much stronger emphasis on
training than on finding work, and a strong motivation to sign up youth for
training courses that were available than to detect what type of training
may have be appropriate. While it may reflect to some degree the
employment realities and human resources constraints on the ground, as
well as the criteria for making local training courses viable, this supply-led
approach leaves young people confused and disillusioned, as the following
quotes suggest:

     When I went to the interview, the lady at the Job Centre said —
     I suppose because I‘d worked in the University cafeteria — that
     I ought to do the 3 year commercial training course that they’d
     got. [our emphasis]. And I said, that it would be too tiring for
     me, full-time, as I‘ve got kids, and no-one to look after them
     while I‘m studying. And what‘d happen if they were ill?
                                             Ana (18), 24 years old

     They really messed me around there [at the Job Centre]. You
     know, they tried to get me to sign up for one of the courses that
     they said was about to start, and that they were trying to fill
     [our emphasis]. One was for waiters, and the other was for, I
     don‘t know, something to do with retailing. It‘s the government
     that wants courses; I don‘t — I want a job!

                                  Graça (37), 21 years old, seamstress
There is also a strong sense among youth that the Job Centres contribute to
rather than combat the pervasive rural culture of favouritism and
clientelism, or what the Portuguese refer to as cunha. While the rules may
not, in fact, be systematically bent by public officials, or at the behest of
parents with connections, the following type of diagnosis, provided by one
interviewee, was common enough to raise serious concerns:

     I heard from my girlfriends that there are training placements
     [i.e. the so-called ―social market‖] that you can apply for, that
     pay the national minimum wage. You work in the Town Hall, or
     in a play-school, or something like that. But then you find out
     that so-and-so is already working at the Town Hall, and she got
     to know about it at the Job Centre, and you ask yourself, how
     did she get the job? Oh, you had to apply, and then get selected,
     she‘ll say. But how are you supposed to know about these
     competitions? And even when they have to be advertised, it‘s
     always the same people who are ―in the know‖, and who seem
     to move from one of these jobs to another every 6 months.
     Selection for these programmes should either be competitive, or
     not – one way or the other. As it stands, it‘s just not fair – it‘s
     always the same people who get the jobs.
                            Zulmira (24), 22 years old, kiosk assistant

Clearly, there are serious operational and staff training problems to be
resolved, if the services provided by Job Centres are to more closely
correspond to the legitimate demands of all their clients, i.e. job-seekers as

well as firms. Furthermore the employment services have, at the very least,
a serious problem of negative public perception and confidence to

       Training and employment pathways
Regardless of the level of schooling their children had attained, the
expectations of parents played a key role in determining whether youth
undertook professional training and what type of courses they followed.
Those who had left school having completed 9th grade, those still at
school, and especially those completing their secondary studies outside
SMP, considered the lack of local provision of training to be the factor that
most prejudiced youth employment prospects. The problem was clearly
greater for those with higher qualifications: it appeared that the ―lesser‖
training needs of those with lower educational attainment could be more
readily satisfied locally.
A marked paradox in the sphere of training is that while many have
undergone some sort of professional training, most of it was presented as
independent of any specific policy measures. Of the substantial training
experience accumulated by around half of the 46 young people
interviewed, almost none of it was declared as acquired under the auspices
of the Job Centre. Indeed, only two (4%) of the 46 youngsters interviewed
were currently in longer term training sponsored by the IEFP, and in the
questionnaire survey, 79% said they had never undertaken a government
training scheme, though some will have been ineligible due to their having
insufficient basic educational qualifications.

If we again exclude those still at school, 20 (or almost 48%) had had sort of
vocational training, much of it short-term, ranging from Young Farmer
courses, compulsory for those hoping to receive farm improvement
subsidies, through customer service training, to myriad computer literacy
courses. Institutions involved ranged from Professional Schools, local
entrepreneurial associations and the Portuguese Youth Institute, to private
training entities.

Furthermore, the details provided by interviews, in combination with our
typology of employment pathways, enabled us to check whether the more
stable employment situation enjoyed by some, was in any direct way
attributable to support and guidance provided by the Job Centre. The
training of 18 (86%) of the 21 young persons classified as already having a
degree of employment stability, had been undertaken without direct
reference to the government employment services, though in a few cases,
the IEFP had funded training undertaken by a local employers‘ association.

In only one third of the 15 cases in which the employment pathway was
still unstable and/or unpredictable, had any of the training been the result of
programmed support by the employment services.

Finally, it should be noted that those young people who enter vocational
training are both pragmatic and sanguine about the benefits they may
derive from the experience. Both professionals and youngsters alike
frequently refer to the fact that, frequently, participation in training courses
is seen more a source of income that may, conceivably, improve
employability, than any sort of guarantee of better employment prospects.

        The existence and strength of social and clientelist networks
Virtually all the youth interviewed strongly felt that social networks were
of invaluable support in finding employment. The three interviewees that
attributed little or no importance to this factor had had, in fact, no personal
experience of unemployment.
Where such relations exist, they may be brought to bear – successfully or
not – on the problem of gaining a first foothold in employment. Typically
such relationships may link the parents of a recent school-leaver
asymmetrically and intra-generationally with those who may be able to
offer help, advice, information, influence, or even make the decision
regarding employment. Parents have a number of different inputs that may
be of use in finding employment for their sons and daughters or, at least,
helping them through the difficult period of waiting for an opportunity to
emerge: (1) training in agricultural and construction skills; (2)
free/subsidised food and lodging; (3) moral support and both ―strategic‖
and ―tactical‖ advice; (4) child-care; (5) land for house construction; (6)
influence (cunha); (7) land, capital and other inputs for a small business
(self-employment) project to fully or partially occupy the son/daughter‘s
time and provide a full or part income. Some of the networks are specific to
a given extended family; however, there will also be cases in which a
young person may have or be able to construct such connections (e.g.
through parents of classmates, or through former classmates or fellow
trainees themselves) with a degree of autonomy from his/her parents‘ social
networks. Indeed, school and, to a lesser extent, training courses, do
provide opportunities for youngsters to construct their own networks,
which may be of use in widening the employment options available to
them, and in shifting from a less- to a more-promising employment


Changes in labour market conditions are brought about (1) by the
expansion or contraction of the main businesses of the area, increasingly as
a result of the impact of global processes on the filières in which local
companies are inserted, and/or (2) the impact of new policies aimed
directly or indirectly at slowing down out-migration by encouraging
employment creation, promoting local small and micro-enterprises,
attracting extra-local investment, improving physical and social
infrastructure, etc.
For the bulk of respondents, it was the adverse labour market conditions
(i.e. the limited job-supply) in SMP county that had the major negative
impact on employment opportunities and prospects. While few pointed to
their own preference to stay in SMP as a limiting factor, and other small
group indicated the transport difficulties involved in working ―away‖, the
other significant response, particularly among young couples living alone,
stressed the cost of housing in larger neighbouring population centres as a
major constraint on their taking up alternative employment options.

In the third focus group meetings, the member of the Job Centre in Vila
Real referred quite explicitly to SMP as a ―problem county‖, suggesting
that, for a number of reasons, it is unlikely that the foreseeable shifts in
product and labour market conditions will make it any eas ier for youth to
successfully identify and follow satisfactory pathways to stable and quality
employment inside the study area. The problematic nature of SMP is not
only due to the fact that employment and unemployment trends there are
among the most negative in the region, especially for youth and for young
women in particular, but also due to a number of other factors, that singly
and in combination, exemplify the crisis facing the locality:

      (1) SMP is highly dependent upon on the cultivation of grapes and
          production of wine predominantly for extra-local sale and
          consumption; furthermore, this type of mainly estate agriculture
          generates neither significant year-round employment, nor does it
          leave much value added in the locality;

      (2) there is, among youth, an increasingly strong resistance to
          employment in agriculture – even among those with only modest
          education and qualifications – despite persistent labour shortages
          in this sector throughout much of the year;

(3) Vila Real and Régua are local poles of attraction, both for labour
    and investment, and tend to be where new commercial and
    service developments (hyper-markets, shopping malls, industrial
    parks, and clusters of firms in the same filière) will develop, if
    they develop at all. By comparison, SMP has little power to
    attract business, investment or new residents, and thus alternative
    employment options (including self-employment) may
    increasingly mean moving away from one‘s home village or SMP
    centre (even if only to avoid commuting daily to Vila Real or
    Régua). The completion of the Chaves – Vila Real – Lamego –
    Coimbra dual carriageway may further exacerbate SMP‘s
(4) The fact that in SMP economic and political power is highly
    concentrated in relatively few corporate and dynastic hands,
    combined with the fragile, risk-averse and conservative local
    entrepreneurial class, tends to further constrain innovation; and
(5) According to some commentators, including members of the third
    focus group, SMP as a county town is ―soulless‖, without
    consensus regarding a strategy, and without a clear idea of its
    own identity.

                               Chapter 5
            Conclusions and Policy Implications

This final chapter aims at articulating and integrating outcomes of the
SMP‘s data analyses undertaken and it includes two parts. In the first, we
present five major conclusions, which concern the present SMP‘s youth
status quo. In the second part, seven notes on policy implications derived
from the SMP‘s data analyses are put forward, and the concern with the
SMP‘s future ―rural development‖ is a major one.

At this outset, however, it is convenient to recall the exploratory nature of
this research, as well as the empirical limits of our sample (see 1.2.2).


5.1.1 SMP‟s culture is a major element in social inclusion and social
      exclusion processes
From all data analyses undertaken, a first conclusion may be withdrawn:
SMP‘s culture is a major element concerning the youth‘s social inclusion
and social exclusion process, and this should not be ignored by policy-
makers. In this work, we have defined culture as common, relatively long-
established and stable ways of perceiving and thinking, feeling and acting.
So, in this sense, we may recall that all intra-family‘s and social networks‘
supportive attitudes and practices (both material and emotional) as well as
specific customs, such as early marriage and elderly care via a daughter (or
daughter-in-law), usually the youngest, have profound implications in
terms of ―local‖ employment in the ―rural‖ area studied. Similarly, the
ingrained belief in the power of the cunha, as well as its demonstrative
effect, impacts inevitably on the pathways to get, or, sometimes, to fail a
job. Similarly, both the notion that one should work as he/she reaches ―the
working age‖ (leaving consequently the school) and the widespread social
devaluation of working in the vineyards, which is certainly linked to a local
collective memory of quasi-serfdom, conditions to a large extent SMP
youngsters‘ search for work elsewhere, via migration. In brief, for the
creation of employment leading to social inclusion, culture makes a
difference. One senior officer of the Job Centre in Vila Real, one of our key
informants, corroborated this conclusion as follows:

     I believe that culture is a fundamental issue. In Portugal the
     distinction between noble occupations and less noble
     occupations persists yet.

If this key informant‘s perception is acute, then the social prestige attached
by the youth to the various professions would deserve further research.
Policies for struggling against devaluation of specific occupations and
professions may be needed too.

5.1.2 For SMP‟s youth, employment is not work. Essentially, it is
      secure, wage-employment

As said above, common perceptions, for example, about work and
employment, are part of culture. So, it is worth to aggregate and mould the
scattered bits of the youngsters’ narrative accounts alluding to such
concepts and to have these in mind as policy measures and local
development plans are designed.
For the youth interviewed, work means essentially wage-work, with
provision of hard, unpleasant, irregular labour, mainly in vineyards or civil
construction infrastructures. Both the start and the end of a “work”
relationship may be informal and abrupt. Relatively low payments and lack
of career perspectives are also associated to that notion. On the contrary,
employment, conceived as wage-employment, not self-employment, has a
more formal and relatively stable nature. It is also linked too much more
favourable working conditions, being a “fair” salary included. It usually
requires some lobbying to guarantee access and some sort of negotiation
between the partners involved. To get secure employment is “the most
important thing in life”, among other reasons because of the multiplier
effect: through employment, the access to many other opportunities
booms30. Having no employment means that practically all societal doors,
one after the other, are kept closed. As one of our key informants, the
member of the Job Centre put it:

     For the unemployed, the rate of unemployment is 100%.
Of course, self-employment is not ignored by the youngsters interviewed.
As we have seen above, a considerable number of them have parents who
are self-employed (chapter 2), some help out in the family businesses, and
others have even “joint-ventures” with their parents. A few are exploring
the idea of having their own business (chapters 3 and 4). However,
conceptually, self-employment does not emerge as the ideal kind of
employment (not yet?), what may be associated to the high value imputed
to the respective risk-taking dimension. Inês (05) and Mário (16), for

example, admitted that they were pondering over the idea of becoming self-
employed, but they were also very clear about their fears of failure due to
economic competition. Rosa (09), who attended a training course precisely
designed to promote self-employment and “the entrepreneurial spirit”, also
pinpoint to the same risk, specially because of the micro-size of the local
market, a view that is shared by some other interviewees [e.g. (43)].
Moreover, it seems that some youngsters are aware of previous,
unsuccessful attempts of setting-up micro-enterprises, particularly by
outsiders. As Luzia (20) put it:

     Here, in Santa Marta, everything [any business] that opens,
     closes [sometime later].
Thus, for the youth interviewed, employment means essentially secure
wage-employment and for many the proper employer is certainly the State.
Security throughout the working life as well as the expected value of
retirement pensions (as compared to other jobs) are features of public jobs
that are much appreciated [e.g. (11) (46)], and they are seen as outweighing
a low salary and other disadvantages. Actually, this view is an old,
common one. Although both the social environment and market conditions
that youngsters are facing today are obviously different from their parents‘,
their reasons for viewing the State as a patron are equally strong. Indeed,
insecurity of employment and inability of becoming contributors to the the
social welfare services (and, consequently, eligible as beneficiaries), are
constitutive elements of many current jobs, which the youth are aware of.
From the youngsters‘ interviews we could sense that job uncertainty is part
and parcel of the youth/adulthood transition. In fact, they are skipping from
job to job, or from occasional to apprentice works, or from precarious work
placements to test-jobs, or from training opportunities to open
unemployment periods, or from migration-related activities to awaiting
periods (before the military service, for example).

Moreover, an early return to the field assured that the fluidity of the
occupational posts is effectively high, at least higher than we would
suppose. Then, at the first focus group meeting, we learned, for example,
that the young baker we had interviewed, who was looking for training to
be a pastry-cook, but also toying with the idea of joining the Guarda
Nacional Republicana (rural gendarmerie) because he knew ―someone high
up who would put in a good word for him‖, had fallen on harder times, and
was currently filling holes in the road for the Local Council. Indeed, as
stated above (chapter 4), follow-up calls certified that the youngsters‘
involvement in the current labour market is rather volatile. Thus, the
youth‘s relatively common wish and practice31 of integrating any of the
police forces may be linked to both the job and post-job security.

In brief, we may conclude that for the observed, ―employment‖ is not
―work‖ and it is mainly ―state employment‖, even if it is a risky one.

5.1.3       Broken links in the school to work chain

So far, we have underlined local culture, and within this totality, the
perception of work and employment, as key elements for the understanding
of the processes of socio-economic inclusion and/or exclusion of youth. For
this same goal, it is equally relevant to become aware of another major
conclusion: in SMP, between school and work there is a sort of broken
chain, whose links are one‘s potential (personal knowledge, individual
skills and social competence, vocational dreams), education (formal and
non-formal), training courses, apprentice opportunities, work placements
and employment.
Our analyses led us to conclude that, as a rule, the youth‘s path from school
to the labour market is not only steeply, full of sharp bends and holes, but
also crossed by ditches. The first secure employment is a sort of peak that
is very difficult to reach, the first work placement may look as a too-soon-
to-tell opportunity, and this, or even training courses, may eventually
postpone, or impede, steps towards more stable jobs. That is, the transition
from education to employment is neither homogenous nor continuous. We
observed not only the existence of a set of five pathways (chapter 4), but
also, in every case, a gap again and again. Personal vocational dreams,
even rather modest, are too far away from schooling. The school itself
matches neither the local society nor the market, whatever this might be:
local, national, and global. Training opportunities are usually unlinked
from formal schooling and adult education as well as from jobs and
employment. Under these circumstances, the following key informant‘s
reflection makes much sense:
        To me it seems very negative youngsters doing jobs that they
        don‘t like, that does not make them feel fulfilled in vocational
        terms. There are people that adapt, but there are others that do
        not ... And then there is also the question of young people
        training themselves for a certain type of work and then finding
        out ... that there are no openings for them. They‘ll ask, ―what
        have I been studying for? There‘s no employment!‘
In brief, the world of youngsters‘ dreams, the world of school and the
world of work are not unified into a single universe.

5.1.4 Many of SMP‟s youth, particularly the more educated,
      experience unstable and fragmented employment in the course of
      their school-to-work transition

Another major conclusion concerns the access and nature of employment
opportunities. The youngsters are fully aware of how difficult is accessing
the national and the local labour market, particularly for those having no
experience of being employed once. At the village level, not only TV
spreads gloomy news about employment, but also informal channels
circulate quickly bad news concerning close friends and acquaintances. The
SMP‘s youth know, for example, that some fellows who were able to enter
into higher education have unsuccessfully been attempting to get a job for
long (much more than expected) time. These frustrating cases, which erode
the value of education, particularly higher education, have concrete names:
Francisca, the anthropologist; Joaquina, the primary school teacher, and
Cristina (34), the sports teacher, as well as all her colleagues with the same
degree course. The young people also exchange views about other
surprising cases such as: the teacher of math who accepted a post of school
porter; a graduated girl who failed to get a post in the Local Council, in
detriment of a less educated and politically involved competitor. Among
the SMP‘s youth, it is also a rather common perception that the concelho is
under the centripetal force of Vila Real and Régua, and, thus, the
possibilities of industrial and commercial development, and, consequently,
job creation, are squeezed. The figures concerning the time spent in full
time employment since leaving school (chapter 4) corroborate this view
and underline the unstable and fragmented nature of the employment many
youth experience in the course of their school-to-work transition.

Another type of information also reflects the youth‘s concern about the
difficulties of getting an employment. At the time of interviewing SMP‘s
youngsters, we attempted to collect their suggestions concerning political
and policy measures for promoting employment. In spite of the paucity of
the data collected, it is worth mentioning that Sebastião (14), who is a
member of a paramilitary force, explicitly pinpoint to the need of
governmental support for overcoming the vicious circle of being un-
employed due to lack of experiencing the first employment. In his opinion,
the first job seekers should be specifically targeted and cherished.
Surprisingly, early retirements and fewer expenses with elderly people‘s
social benefits were also indicated by a relatively high number of
respondents [(09) (16) (20) (21) (22)]. We have interpreted this information
as hinting to a certain anti-elderly sentiment. Is an inter-generational
conflict becoming latent? As we already know, some demographers have
raised this hypothesis.

5.1.5 SMP youth pragmatically revise downwards which rung on their
      “wish ladder” they expect to finish on
In their path to adulthood young people encounter multiple difficulties,
some of which are certainly normal. Others are abnormal and may be
aggravated by the personality traits of the young people concerned.
Throughout both the fieldwork and the analyses, we got the view that, in
general, SMP‘s youth seem to share a rather pragmatic attitude of
accommodating oneself to the current situation and reviewing downward
the initial personal dreams and vocational wishes. As time goes and
accessing the means to get the initial target fails, the revision can be
profound. Any ―deviation‖ may have perverse, feedback effects and
enlarge the gap between the former ambitions and the current occupational
status. Thus, one may reach the stage of accepting ―any‖ third or fourth
choice of ―secure‖ employment, or turn to the condition of awaiting for
migration. One of our key informants, a social worker working closely with
the poorest people, revealed great concern with youngsters‘ ―apathy‖. She
spoke emphatically of their demotivation in looking for work in Vila Real
and Régua, and raised the two following pertinent questions:

     Actually, what‘s going on? Why are they [unemployed
     youngsters] subject to that apathy? They are too young and why
     they stare at life in such a way?
As mentioned above, the ―pragmatic‖, ―realistic‖ attitude cannot be
disconnected from other relatively common attitudes: the attention that
youth pay, and the openness they reveal with regard to opportunities
available, the predisposition to leave and get a job elsewhere, and a
gradualist, step-by-step approach to the resolution of their problems. In this
sense, deviations from initial wishes may be only temporary. So, there is
not a simple and definite accommodation to circumstances, and the number
of youngsters determined to do ―something‖ is bigger than we had thought
initially. Out of 46 interviewees, we would include in a ―pro-active youth‖
category about 8 youngsters [(05) (09) (10) (19) (20) (32) (33) (37)].

Anyway, the overall picture that the research data provides may be
expressed as follows: SMP‘s youth seem to acknowledge that social
structures outweigh personal agency.


The set of points presented below, which are more action-oriented, result
from the SMP‘s data analyses, and aim at the reflection on SMP‘s future
―rural development‖.

5.2.1    An introductory key note

From a theoretical viewpoint, policies are instruments designed to ―correct‖
or ―consolidate‖ social structures and processes, thus moulding the future,
so to speak. Both a certain area (in this case, SMP) and a social category (in
this case, the rural youth) may be specifically policy-targeted. From this
perspective, it seems pertinent to recall three main points raised in the
discussion of the sixth paradox (see chapter 3):

- the youngsters‘ prognosis of the future of SMP was bleak and

- their view on the policies and public services was also a sombre one;
- in spite of this, among the interviewees and from a personal viewpoint,
  there was a relatively common willingness to stay in the area.
Considering the SMP‘s future rural development, no doubt, this specific
willingness is a major asset, albeit an immaterial one.

5.2.2 Formal education: personal and vocational dreams, as well as
      “professional” schooling should be respected and promoted

This research led us to accept that the current conditions in the SMP
secondary school are on a trajectory of improvement as compared to those
recently experienced by the interviewees 32, i.e. over the preceding ten to
fifteen years to which our interviewees‘ recollections and reactions relate.
It also led us to think that neither premature school leaving (i.e. dropping
out before either compulsory years of school attendance have been
achieved, and/or before the youngster‘s potentialities have been realised)
nor successive repetition of the school year due to failure, are not caused
exclusively, or even mainly, by youngsters‘ own learning difficulties. The
typically negative connotation attributed to early school leaving could be
interpreted, after all, as straightforward customer dissatisfaction and/or a
positive (though not necessarily very objective) attitude with regard to
seeking an satisfactory occupation.

The research also revealed that the main diagnosis of secondary school
problems has already been undertaken, the main features of and factors in
the situation being well known. Neither is the appropriate therapy
unknown, either. The teachers‘ own comments contain the remedies, as the
following statement, from a female teacher (and member of the
Management Committee of the SMP secondary school), suggests:
     Teaching continues to be rather theoretical and they [the
     students] increasingly want more practical things. It is common
     knowledge, for example, that the computing room, attendance at
     which is free, is persistently overcrowded with students every

     Any subject that we teach can be taught both ways: more
     theoretically- or more practice-oriented. However, teachers feel
     the pressure to follow the [whole of the official curricular]
     programmes, and this means that often the more practical
     issues are not dealt with.
Other informants, young and adult, have also underlined the value of
closing the gap between the school and the real world ―out there‖, which
implies paying much more attention to activities that are familiar to the
youngsters, such as, for example, TV-radio-and-music listening, sports,
local visits and excursions beyond the confines of their community, etc. We
may recall that the ―professional education‖ is rather popular among
students in their late teens. In brief, having in mind all the narrative
accounts collected, we believe that professionally-oriented education
should be strongly encouraged. The very low number of students attending
this type of schools also reinforces this conclusion.

In brief, from a policy viewpoint, it seems necessary to perceive and design
the school as a place where personal dreams and vocational aspirations are
valued, not ignored, nor subject to a ―downward revision‖. On the contrary,
the school that is solicitous in pleasing its ―clientele‖ will create
opportunities for youngsters‘ talents, skills and knowledge to flourish. It
would, as a matter of course, emphasise personal counselling and
professional and career guidance. If these changes are not promoted
quickly, there is a very clear limit to how long youngsters will continue to
believe – however generally – that continued education may have both
personal and material benefits.

5.2.3 Non-formal, continuous education: the need for tailor-made
We observed that among youngsters in SMP there is a common and
relatively pronounced unwillingness to contemplate the continuation of or
return to education. Increasingly, local youth no longer take it for granted
that extensive education is a guaranteed means of gaining employment or
to a job. The one does not necessarily imply the other. Moreover, difficult
access to jobs among those who have attended the latter phases of
secondary (and indeed higher) education, devalues education in general.

Surely, the obstacles to extended education are not insurmountable and
among the respondents we interviewed, it was possible to detect signs that
education may still be seen as a path to be pursued further. But under the
current circumstances, both formal and non-formal ―adult‖ education
emerges as a highly demanding policy and action domain.
Successful interventions would certainly demand tailor-made programmes.
At least, the following conditions concerning the participants‘ profiles are
required: detailed knowledge about the school/family life history; full
recognition of the past and current experience, abilities, knowledge; and,
last but not least, clear identification of both the personal dreams and
professional aspirations. From the side of the educational offer, minimal
conditions would include: wide and creative menu of problem-oriented
disciplines, and fields offered; life- and work-oriented programmes and
methods; adequate provision of material conditions.
Briefly, one may say that both formal and non-formal ―adult‖ education has
to be built upon the strong motivation of the ―students‖ concerned. For both
the school dropouts and the young people who get tired of education, the
gaps between the school, personal dreams and the world ―out there‖ have to
be closed. More and better provision of vocational guidance as well as
information on education opportunities and professional careers is urgently
needed. Otherwise, youth may limit drastically their dreams and wishes,
accommodating themselves to the frustration of the third or fourth job
choice. Or, even worse, they may simply succumb to despair.

5.2.4    Public training: the need for more and better opportunities

To find ways of filling the gap between the formal school and training
organisations, the IEFP, in particular, constitutes a fundamental institution.
Three suggestions are put forward: training organisations could act as
mediators between the school and regional enterprises, establishing links in
order to make it possible that students be taken into employment ―on

probation‖, either during school holidays or even during specific training
periods throughout the school year. To move many of the current,
essentially introductory computing courses from the training organisations
to the secondary school would be another way of closing the links in this
broken chain. School leavers, whatever the grade that they have completed,
should be identified at an early stage and stimulated to follow the
―rotational learning‖ provided by the IEFP (chapter 2). Without this
concern, public professional training would not respond to the most
disfavoured youth.

We may add that the public training system needs to supply more locally–
based (concelho), regular and diversified training opportunities.
Particularly, it should promote courses adapted to both the current and
future needs of, on the one hand, the regional market and, on the other
hand, local enterprises. We cannot ignore that the ―institutional actors‖
participating in the third focus group unanimously agreed that in SMP there
is much room for current job-related training activities; two of them further
underlined that local enterprises are usually unable to bear training costs.
Only rarely does a local entrepreneur wish to fazer o empregado, that is ―to
mould‖ the employee via in-job training. Nor can we ignore that the
manager of the Caves de Santa Marta informed the same focus group about
the great success of the co-operative‘s recent initiative of a course
targeting semi-skilled women employees. Close co-operation with
community associations and organisations of entrepreneurs would help in
achieving both the needs assessment and the identification of trainees. With
respect to future needs, we would suggest the development of language
courses as a way of assuring quality of tourism services. Some youngsters,
such as Filipe (46), who lived abroad and returned to SMP, as well as the
youngsters that like foreign languages, would certainly increase their
employability very rapidly if their inherent/acquired multi-lingualism were
recognised as a resource, rather than as an irrelevant curiosity.
With respect to the specific domain of professional training, a final
consideration concerns the effectiveness of the related initiatives. While the
relation means/ends should obviously be kept as a main concern, the
indirect effects of training should not be underestimated. The data collected
suggest that, from the participant‘s pragmatic viewpoint, any training
opportunity (even those that are not tailor-made), ultimately may contribute
to social inclusion. Besides the knowledge and skills that they may offer,
the pocket money provided and the positive psychological effect of
overcoming the condition of being a first-job seeker or an unemployed,
such learning situations may also help to identify the undesired jobs or
activities. Moreover, social networking, which is usually rather
instrumental in assuring a job, may be extended and reinforced and, to

some extent, placed more under the youngster‘s own control, rather than
that of his/her family. In brief, training opportunities (these being tailor-
made, or not) may be rather instrumental in promoting both current and
future social inclusion.
Both the direct and indirect benefits mentioned above justify more and
better training opportunities for SMP‘s youth.

5.2.5 Employment opportunities in SMP: there is room for
      manoeuvre, at least on paper
No doubt, job creation is a very difficult exercise. SMP‘s regional and local
context provides both constrains and opportunities, although nowadays the
former outweigh the last. As we have seen above (Paradox 1, chapter 3),
youngsters living in SMP believe that vineyards hold no future for anyone.
It is certainly true that, on the one hand, wine production is bound to
seasonal activities and that mechanisation and rationalisation has reduced
the demand of labour, but, on the other hand, the youngsters‘ view is a very
simplistic one. There is some room for manoeuvre if one considers that the
current business of producing quality table wines and Port may be
diversified and linked to multiple tourism services. Next, we shall indicate
some job opportunities that can be envisaged in this context.
To begin with, medium and big estates and farms usually face a shortage of
labour. Bearing in mind the total area under vineyards and the volume of
wine produced, the creation of micro-enterprises for rendering high quality
technical services (for which training would be required) to the more needy
farms may be a direction worth exploring. To a certain extent, some
empreiteiros are moving towards this path, though without any particular
concern with labourers‘ working conditions and the quality of the services
rendered. They merely act as recruiters of wage workers.
Some medium and big wine farms may pass from the position of grape-
growers to wine-producers, selling their production directly. This line of
adding value to the primary produce is spreading and may develop much
further, thereby also creating more employment opportunities for skilled
youth. For instance, wine specialists, wine sales staff, accountants, people
specialised in publicity and public relations would be necessary.

In the Douro some tourism services (particularly, sightseeing by boat and
associated services) are booming and others, such as tourist ‗trails‘ linking
historic wine estates, visits to archaeological sites, board and lodging in
rural houses, recuperating old hiking and rambling paths, tourism based on
local gastronomy and wine-tasting, etc., may all be developed extensively.

From this perspective, local job creation is not a cul-de-sac, even though
the exit route suggested here may not extend very far.
Within the framework of economic diversification of existing family firms
(in trade, transport and other services), or within the framework of setting
up new family-sponsored businesses, we may consider that some more jobs
could be created in SMP. High quality board and lodging for tourists is an
example, although the demand would have to be fostered.

Social welfare services to be rendered to the elderly and children living in
the Douro region may also provide ways of creating some jobs for SMP‘s
youth as well as stimulating the creation of new small businesses. Some of
these young people would become local community educators and social
workers, occupations that are very close to some of the interviewees‘
dreams. In this respect, it is worth recalling that alcoholism is observed
among men and women, and to some extent among youth, constituting a
key factor undermining both family harmony and children upbringing.

5.2.6 Some key prerequisites for creating in loco the required
      employment opportunities
The creation of the above mentioned types of jobs, will most likely depend
more on the way the existing policies are implemented than on the
availability of new policy instruments. Apparently, the public services
concerned have a very formal and passive posture towards their potential
―clients‖. The challenge would precisely be to do in a different way what is
most obvious and closest at hand. This means that public services need to
have a pro-active attitude, approaching seriously both local youth and
partners (schools, parishes, firms, political parties, the Local Council, etc.).
Having in mind the data collected on the quality of services rendered, it
seems indispensable that public organisations in general, and the IEFP, in
particular, may gain greater credibility, trust and polish their tarnished
public image. It seems to us that a new path cannot be open without this
first step. The setting up of an IEFP ―information counter‖ in SMP would
possibly be a useful means of closing the gap between that organisation and
youth. Taking into consideration the findings concerning the imperfections
and closed circuits that characterise the circulation of public information, in
general, and that regarding employment, in particular, it would also be
indispensable to make greater and persistent communication efforts in
order to reach the potential young beneficiaries i.e. those the policy and
measures ostensibly target. There are numerous rural development support
measures available in the EU‘s and Portuguese financial frameworks,
which require much more active diffusion of information. Those measures

concern, for instance, the creation of firms in the services sector, the setting
up of young farmers‘ business, investments in processing and
commercialisation of farm products, and in tourism, etc.

Increased diffusion of public information, improved proximity to the young
clientele and greater attention to the need to improve both performance and
reputation of public services may help in the creation of training
opportunities and employment for SMP‘s youth, but the above-mentioned
pre- and post-farm production jobs (either farm-centred or off-farm-
complementary activities) require a further essential prerequisite, that we
might called the three Vs: vigorously valuing viticulture. Surely, this is a
distant and difficult peak to be scaled; nevertheless, a radical improvement
of working conditions on the farms is needed and this is the first stage of
the upward climb. Otherwise, the exodus from the fields and terraces will
continue, as the following statement from a key informant suggests.
     They [the youngsters] see their parents as having had a hard
     life, so they do not wish to repeat it themselves. This is so
     because many of them help their parents a lot. Some don’t
     even like the school holidays [the emphasis is ours]. The life
     that they have here [in the school] … isn‘t as hard is as working
     in the fields.

Meanwhile, additional, prolonged efforts need to be made in order to value
vigorously SMP‘s viticulture, the keystone of the local economy. These
actions should be addressed to all local communities in the Douro, and in
particular to the primary and secondary schools. In fact, it may seem
paradoxical, but it looks as if it is necessary to embody into the local
culture and society a set of viti-―culture‖ components that are part and
parcel of its own constitution. For instance, the following three viti-―culture

 the socio-economic role of viticulture in the whole Douro region, and
  particularly in SMP is very high;

 Port wine is the premier high-quality, world renowned Portuguese
  product par excellence, which is increasingly sought after in demanding
  international markets; and

 the Douro‘s potential economic development is relatively high.
Both other Portuguese and outsiders alike take these elements for granted,
but, apparently, SMP society still has some way to go before they are
locally assimilated, so to speak.

5.2.7       A final key-note
If SMP‘s future rural development, and particularly creation of
employment, is effectively a concern to be taken seriously, then the set of
policy-related points presented above, as well as many others, cannot be
dealt with separately and from a short-term perspective. Both the
articulation and integration of socio-economic policies in the area
concerned and in the long run are essential means for achieving those
goals. The ad-hoc and/or disjointed implementation of policy measures
may have no impact, or even perverse effects, such as fostering socio-
economic exclusion. One of our key informants raised his voice against this
current and wholly unacceptable situation, as follows

        Our world, this ‗hinterland Portugal‘, is ending. It has been
        ruined but I cannot accept it. I believe that people have the right
        to organise their lives in their homeland, in the place where
        their roots are.

May this research work contribute to the SMP‘s youth social inclusion,
especially of those who are quite understandably subject to apathy – be
they youngsters searching for satisfactory employment, or policy-makers
scratching their heads over how best to achieve this, and related, objectives.


1 Shared cost contract FAIR 6 – CT 98 – 4171.

2 We use the acronym SMP or Santa Marta as equivalent to the county‘s full name of
Santa Marta de Penaguião.

3 A recent study of Portuguese youth, their attitudes and opportunity struct ure, by
Manuel Villaverde Cabral and José Machado País (eds.), (1998), Jovens Portugueses de
Hoje: Resultados de um inquérito de 1997, Celta, Oeiras, Portugal, 423 pp, .was
published recently by the Portuguese Youth Institute. Unfortunately, the research has
very little to say specifically about the situation of rural youth.

4 We will use GMI as the acronym for Guaranteed Minimum Income.

5 Throughout, we maintain this way of representing the code number of every

6 CCRN, Data Base, July, 2000,

7 Portuguese words are in italic. Interviewees‘s expressions, which were translated into
English are also in italic.

8 CCRN Data Basis, <>, July, 2000

9 The lowest level of the Portuguese administrative hierarchy.

10 Mark Shucksmith (2000) "Exclusive Countryside: social inclusion and regeneration
in rural Britain", Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

11 INE, Population Census, 1991.

12 We would like to acknowledge the co-operation of the management committee of the
SMP secondary school for providing this valuable and hard to collect information. It is
worth noting that the SMP school does not offer the 3rd cycle (i.e. university entrance
level) of secondary education. The collection of such data reflects the concern of the
management committee to monitor the further education of their former students.

13 CCRN, Data Base, July, 2000, <http://www.ccr->.
Source: ME/GETAP e GEP, Statistical treatment by CCRN/DRPD.

14 These data were provided by the manager of Caves de Santa Marta Cooperative, one
of our key informants.

15 Literally, ―cunha‖ means wedge. In figurative terms is equivalent to
recommendation, but in the context of the interviews the word ―cunha‖ can be translated
as ―to pull a few strings to find a job‖.

16 INE, Population Census, 1991.

17 These figures, as well as the other data in this section were extracted from

publications by STAPE – Secretariado Técnico dos Assuntos para o Processo Eleitoral.

18 The number of school leavers annually from the secondary education system totals
approximately 60,000 youngsters/year (National Action Plan, Portugal, 2000).

19 This is very to be so because the turn-over of the teaching staff is minimal now, and
material and educational improvements have taken place lately. According to the
information provided by two teachers, who are members of the SMP School Committee,
the school atmosphere is rather close, the teachers know the students well and the
parents‘ participation in the school meetings is relatively high. Students that move to
other schools very often visit the teachers and some may even write letters to them on a
regular basis. It is also common that a particular teacher becomes the ―moral tutor‖ of a
student whose parents have emigrated.

20 In principle, some acronyms or full designations, such as PAIJVA (programme for
the integration of youth in working life), INFORJOVEM (computing courses for young
people), UNIVA (units for the integration in working life), JVS (young volunteers for
solidarity) could be mentioned in this regard.

21 The first programme consists of a State support of a percentage of the rent paid,
accordingly to the young persons‘ income and age (until the age of 30). The second
covers bank loans for house acquisition and consists on lower interest rates and
advantages in obtaining a loan of the total amount of the price of the house.

22 The prices practised in SMP are € 10000 and € 5000 cheaper than those practised,
respectively, in Vila Real and Régua. The indicative prices are of ¤ 90000 – ¤1000000
for a flat with 2 bedrooms and of € 105000 – € 115000 for one with 3 bedrooms.

23 In terms of economic development indicators, the Northern Region of Portugal is
divided into three quite disitnct parts (1) a highly urbanised coastal strip (from Viana do
Castelo to the metropolitan area of Porto, down to Aveiro in the South); (2) Greater
Porto‘s immediate hinterland, stretching as far inland as the Barroso, Marão and
Montemuro mountains, which contains a number of both large and intermediate
economic centres such as Braga, Guimarães, Santo Tirso, Paços de Ferreira, Felgueiras.
Penafiel, São João da Madeira and Oliveira de Azemeis). These two zones together
(forming the NUTS Cávado, Ave, Tâmega, Entre Douro e Vouga and Grande Porto)
contain the highest concentration of industrial activity in Portugal. (3) Beyond the
mountains (hence the name Trás-os-Montes) and further up the main river valley, lie the
predominantly rural and thinly populated interior NUT III sub-regions of Alto Trás-os-
Montes and Douro, extending to the Spanish border with Galicia (in the North and
North-east) and Castille and Leon (in the North-east and East).

24 It is impossible to specify exactly how many youth enter the labour market each
year in SMP, since the data on school leavers is collected according to the county in
which the school is located, and not where the student is resident. However, some
indication can be provided by the fact that, for example, in 1999, 105 persons were
seeking their first (rather than a new) employment.

25 The only data on activity rates that we were able to collect is from the 1991
population census. By that time, the rates of youth economic activity were very alike in
SMP and Douro (about 55%, while the average for Norte was 66%).

26 Obviously, current employment may continue for considerable time or, indeed,
terminate immediately after the interview.

27. The Portuguese team is grateful to the suggestions made by our Irish counterparts
regarding the different dimensions to be analysed in subsequent reading of the
interviews. While we broadly adhered to their advice, each re ading generated further
questions and new aspects of the narratives that merited analysis. In this way we
managed to continuously combine qualitative analysis with quantitative confirmation.

28 It is interesting to note that the career guidance provided in schools in Portugal tends
to be undertaken by psychologists. This says a lot about the theoretical framework
adopted when explaining successful – and, in particular, unsuccessful – transitions from
school to work.

29 The legal provision is that such publication be, first and foremost, in the Diário da
República (the daily State record); the requirement (and, indeed, the practice) of that
advertising public sector posts in the conventional press appears to vary substantially
according to the type of post in question.

30 For example, to work daily as a postman, on a short-term contract, and take an
evening class of an adult education course is surely better than to be unemployed.
However, only a stable job would allow that postman to have access, for example, to the
legal and academic benefits of a Portuguese with the status of a ―worker-student‖.

31 Sociological research on the composition of the Portuguese para- military forces has
demonstrated that the regions of the rural interior have provided the bulk of the
contingents, at least until recent times.

32 See endnote 19.


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