When Arriving Is Not Enough—Constraints in Access to Education and Employment Opportunities for Migrant Youth

Judith Jacovkis*, Alejandro Montes, Xavier Rambla

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Due to an array of individual, institutional and structural factors, several constraints hinder the access of migrant youth to education, training and employment in Catalonia. In this article, we explore the conditions in which young migrants access the education and training system in Catalonia (Spain). Drawing on the theory of opportunity structures, we highlight three constraints that narrow their education and training opportunities. Our approach runs away from individualistic explanations of success or failure. The research draws on 5 focus groups and 10 in-depth interviews with young migrants who were participating in a training scheme in 2019 and 2020. Our results point out three types of conditioning factors that constrain opportunities and sometimes become unsurmountable barriers. Firstly, their migrant status narrows their opportunities for education, training and employment. Secondly, current administrative procedures eventually disrupt the ways in which certain young newcomers follow the mainstream education and training pathways. Finally, certain circumstances have inflicted socio-emotional wounds on young newcomers, not only because they have left their country and suffered from socio-economic deprivation, but also because they have been compelled to suddenly adjust their expectations.

Original languageEnglish
Article number95
Number of pages15
JournalSocieties (Basel)
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jun 2022


  • access to education
  • education inequalities
  • educational trajectories
  • opportunity structures
  • young newcomers


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