Rural Youth Report by the EYCA Youth Panel

rural youth report 2024

As part of the Rural Youth Project, the EYCA Youth Panel put together a study focussing on the needs and challenges of rural youth. Rural Youth represent a key demographic in the European landscape. Very diverse and generally less engaged in youth programmes and projects than their urban counterparts, there is a clear need to understand why such engagement is not the norm and how to respond to this. This project aims to answer the question: How can EYCA’s youth services better respond to the needs of rural youth?

The ultimate purpose is to produce a roadmap for EYCA members (and other youth-focused entities) to better engage with rural youth. 

The method to reach this?

Listening to and engaging with rural youth. Connecting with the European Youth Goals, the Rural Youth Project is an initiative developed over the course of several mandates of the EYCA Youth Panel. It kicked off in autumn 2023 by gathering information on this topic. It’s followed by the organisation of a Rural Youth Camp in April 2024 in rural Spain, where the EYCA Youth Panel will engage with 50 rural young people all over Europe.

You can read and download the Rural Youth Report here.

Key highlights

  • Different priorities among rural youth highlight their commitment to political, economic, social and environmental issues. Physical and mental health care, education, and employment are the key priorities of rural youth.
  • Multifaceted challenges faced by young people in rural settings provide valuable insights for policymakers and community stakeholders. Unemployment and isolation due to limited options in terms of venues, transport, and activities pose a significant challenge. Non-participation in public life signals a sense of political under-representation among rural youth, as does social exclusion.
  • Community-level involvement: 26% of respondents actively participate in various initiatives, including cultural events, ecological activities, and educational projects. 73% indicate a lack of involvement, suggesting varying levels of interest, awareness, and infrastructure accessibility.
  • Spaces for Participation: Sports or cultural clubs (53.5%) and rural youth camps (52%) are spaces that foster participation among young people, followed by public debates and online meetings (23%).

 Proposals and prospects ahead:

  1. Prioritise high-quality teachers and improving the educational system is a favoured proposal.
  2. Foster social inclusion through network building, youth activism and diverse activities is crucial.
  3. Provide employment opportunities, scholarships, and investing in infrastructure are recommended.
  4. Enhance the space (physical and legal) and support for the creation of youth organisations, social and sports clubs, and recreational youth activities. Likewise, this space would ideally allow for the engagement of the wider community (including of parents and guardians).
  5. Ensure equal opportunities and involve youth in decision-making.
  6. Support local initiatives, youth entrepreneurship, and offer financial support for sustainable initiatives are critical proposals.
  7. To view the full list of proposals collected from rural respondents:
  8. Of the 27 EYCA member organisations that responded to the survey, 8 currently have tailored discounts for rural youth. 17 organisations have engaged rural youth in the past through their projects, and 14 currently have active ongoing projects for rural youth.

As a voluntary body, the EYCA Youth Panel, conducted this study primarily as a tool to improve the design of the Rural Youth Project, and not purposefully with regard to academic research and methodology. Therefore, some limitations of this study must be taken into consideration. However, the insights can certainly be used as a starting point for further research and initiative-building.

For more information on the Rural Youth Project and its different initiatives: