1.7 Funding youth policy
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There is a specific budget dedicated to the joint responsibilities of ‘Family and Youth’ (Sektion VI: Familie und Jugend). Recently, these responsibilities were transferred from the former Ministry of Labour, Family and Youth to the Federal Chancellery, indicating a change in the administrative structure with the Federal Chancellery assuming primary responsibility for extracurricular youth matters.
The Federal Ministry of Finance provides an overview of the federal budget for 2023 in Austria. The comprehensive Budget Report 2023 (Budgetbericht 2023) provides a detailed breakdown of the financial allocations to the various ministries. Each ministry is responsible for defining its own objectives and targets for the funds it receives. In the case of ‘Family and Youth’, the Federal Chancellery takes the lead in outlining impact targets that are directly relevant to youth-related initiatives. These impact targets serve as specific goals and milestones that the government aims to achieve in areas related to family and youth welfare, development, and support.
According to the federal government's 2023 budget report, the allocated budget for "Family and Youth under UG 25" amounts to €8 122.6 million. This figure represents an increase compared to the previous year's budget of €8 084.5 million. The budget allocated to 'Family and Youth' covers a wide range of areas such as education, social services, health care, leisure activities and support for vulnerable youth groups. On the website of the Federal Ministry of Finance, the detailed budget for youth policy measures (Detailbudget Jugendpolitische Maßnahmen) for 2023 is €10.6 million, compared to €9 million in 2022. The increased budget demonstrates the government's intention to invest more resources in creating opportunities and providing essential services that enhance the well-being and development of young people and families across the country.
In summary, the budget allocation in UG 25 ‘Family and Youth’ focuses on services for families, children, and young people, as well as civilian service. The majority of funds are allocated to the Family Allowance Compensation Fund (Familienbeihilfe) and are used for purposes defined in the Family Allowance Act (Familienlastenausgleichsgesetz). The amount of money provided depends on demographic changes and inflation rates.
The funded programs have several main objectives. They aim to ensure equitable distribution of benefits and support between individuals without children and parents with maintenance obligations. Additionally, these programs seek to facilitate the balance between family and work life, support families in crisis situations, and prevent conflicts during separation and divorce. Another key objective is the protection and promotion of young people. The programs provide resources and services to ensure their well-being, support their growth, and empower them to become independent and productive members of society.
For the years 2023 and 2024, specific funding priorities (Förderschwerpunkte) have been established in accordance with the ‘Guidelines for the Promotion of Extracurricular Youth Education and Youth Work’ pursuant to Section 2, Paragraph 2 (Bundes-Jugendförderungsgesetz). These priorities include projects focused on enhancing skills and qualifications of young individuals, initiatives promoting intergenerational dialogue and understanding, and projects that prioritize the well-being and quality of life of young people. Funding is given to projects that address these priority areas, with an emphasis on participation, gender- responsiveness, and inclusion of disadvantaged population groups. The target groups for these projects can include adolescents as well as individuals under 30 years of age who act as multipliers, influencing and supporting others.
The Federal Youth Promotion Act (Bundes-Jugendförderungsgesetz, B-JFG) serves as the basis for the financial support of extracurricular youth education and youth work. This law outlines the guidelines and conditions that must be met in order to qualify for federal funding. In addition to a number of criteria, youth organisations can receive basic funding if they fulfil the implementation of continuous quality assurance (Qualitätssicherung) according to paragraph 6, line 6 of the B-JFG.
Various initiatives and activities have been undertaken in recent years to ensure the quality of youth organisations. These efforts are aimed at identifying methods, standards and approaches for quality assurance. One of the central methods that has been recognised in this process is self-evaluation. It enables organisations to examine their practices, identify areas for improvement, and make informed decisions about resource allocation and programme development in order to qualify for funding.
EU funds play an important role in supporting Austrian youth policy. They are typically allocated through a combination of national and regional bodies responsible for youth policy implementation. These bodies, in collaboration with relevant stakeholders such as youth organizations, local authorities, and educational institutions, identify the priority areas and projects eligible for EU funding. They develop proposals, apply for funding, and oversee the implementation and monitoring of funded initiatives.
One of the main sources of EU funding in Austria is the European Social Fund. It provides financial support for projects and programmes that focus on improving employment, education and social inclusion. In the context of youth policy, the ESF can be used to fund initiatives that address youth unemployment, skills training, entrepreneurship and other areas relevant to youth development.
The new ESF+ funding programme for 2021-2027, known as ESF+/JTF (ESF+ in Österreich) builds on successful elements from the previous funding period (2014-2020) and focuses on supporting young people in education and transition to work. It specifically targets young individuals affected by the socio-economic crisis caused by COVID-19, requiring Member States to allocate a minimum of 12.5% of their ESF+ budget to help these young people obtain qualifications or secure quality jobs. More information on funding and awards in Austria for 2021-2027 can be found on the Austrian website of the European Social Fund. A selection of projects funded in the period 2014-2020, including in the youth sector, are listed here in German.
Erasmus+ and European Solidarity Corps (Europäische Solidaritätskorps)
In addition, the Erasmus+ program, an EU funding initiative for education, training, youth, and sport, holds a significant role in Austrian youth policy. It provides young people with opportunities for studying, training, and volunteering abroad, promoting their personal and professional growth. Austrian youth organizations can also receive Erasmus+ funding to implement projects that foster international cooperation, intercultural understanding, and youth mobility.
The 2021-2027 Erasmus+ program focuses on social inclusion, the green and digital transitions, and encouraging young people's participation in democratic life. It has a budget of about €26.2 billion, doubling the previous program's budget (2014-2020). An additional €2.2 billion from EU external cooperation instruments complements the budget. Of the total budget, 70% is dedicated to promoting lifelong learning mobility opportunities, while an additional €1 billion is allocated to the European Solidarity Corps (ESC). Austria is expected to receive €683 million from the EU budget for Erasmus+ and the ESC between 2021 and 2027 (EU-Programm Erasmus+ 2021 – 2027).
As the national agency for Erasmus+ and the European Solidarity Corps, the OeAD provides an overview of approvals and funding for Erasmus+ and the European Solidarity Corps in Austria, with available data for 2021 and 2022 (Erasmus+ und ESK Statistik 2021 - 2027). The EU funds allocated for 2021 amount to €55 839 851.26, with an increase to €69 585 820.36 for 2022. Funding across all program areas (Erasmus+ Education, Erasmus+ Youth, and ESC) has seen an increase compared to the previous year.
Evaluations of youth-related programmes from EU funds
The RAY Network is a European research network composed of 35 National Agencies of Erasmus+ Youth in Action and European Solidarity Corps programs, along with their research partners. Its primary goal is to enhance the quality assurance and development of these programs. Austria actively participates in the evaluation process of the network, which includes surveys and thematic research projects focusing on areas like the impact of COVID-19 on youth work, digitalization, and skills development. Austria's involvement in RAY contributes to the ongoing improvement of EU-funded youth programs. Detailed information on ongoing research projects, publications and study results can be found in the RAY website.