4.4 Inclusive programmes for young people
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One of the priorities of the Central State Office for Demography and Youth (CSODY) is to provide funds to support and operate youth organisations, further encouraging the work of youth associations and organisations to improve the quality of life of young people. In addition, tender documentation has been prepared for the public call for national financing of projects targeting young people in 2023.
The CSODY published the Call for Proposals in 2023 (Call) for youth-oriented projects to be implemented in 2024. Resources for the financial support distributed through the Call are ensured from the state budget and from a portion of the state lottery funds.
In the context of social inclusion, the Call emphasises that funding priority is given to organisations that involve volunteers in their work and intend to employ at least one young unemployed person in the project’s implementation, either in a suitable profession or as a volunteer. The priority also extends to organisations that include young people from socially marginalised groups, those in rural areas, islands, and small towns, as well as young members of national minorities. Specific priorities include:
- encouraging young people to assume and practice the role of an active citizen
- encouraging the development of local and regional programmes for young people
- promoting sustainable development, with a special emphasis on raising awareness among young people about the impact of their actions on the climate and the consequences of climate change on the environment and society
- raising the level of information among young people about their rights and opportunities, as well as about programmes and services offered to them in the local community
- ensuring quality use of young peoples’ leisure time
- increasing knowledge, skills, and employability while reducing the risk of entering the Not in Education, Employment, or Training (NEET) category
- enhancing the quality of life and opportunities for young people in rural areas
- reducing all forms of violence against and among young people
- preserving the mental health and psychological well-being of young people
- preventing all forms of addiction and behavioural addictions among young people (alcoholism, smoking, substance abuse, gambling, as well as addictions related to games of chance, computer games, and the Internet)
- implementing project activities with minimal negative impact on the climate and the environment
When defining priorities of the Call, the CSODY recognised the employment barriers for young people leaving education early and the utmost importance of facilitating their return to formal education. In that sense, initiatives in non-formal education can assist young individuals in acquiring qualifications for employment. Emphasising creativity and innovation, civil society organisations play an important role in providing support to young people at the local level. In addition, the Youth Guarantee Implementation Plan contains reforms and measures implemented in close partnership of various stakeholders. A considerable portion of these measures pertains to working with young people not in education, employment, or training (NEET). Measures supporting youth work also aim to strengthen youth organisations and organisations for youth to work with young people. This support extends to developing programmes and projects for their peers, with a special emphasis on hard-to-reach and vulnerable groups.
In view of the above, one of the priority areas in the Call was ‘Employability and competitiveness of young people on the labour market and prevention of entry into the NEET category’.
Based on the Call (refer to the previous paragraph and/or section 1.7, Funding Youth Policy), the CSODY conducted the evaluation and selection of submitted project proposals.
The annual amount for calls varies depending on current financial obligations under previously agreed programmes and defined priorities. In 2022, for example, the total amount for the Call for Proposals across all priorities amounted to €1 459 950.89. Four projects within the priority area ‘Employability and competitiveness of young people in the labour market and prevention of entry into the NEET category’ were awarded a total of €53 089.12, while 23 projects within the priority area ‘Youth in rural areas’ were awarded a total of €291 990.18. Additionally, a new priority area introduced in 2021 was ‘Work with young people in areas affected by the earthquake’, and it continued in 2022, with 16 projects being awarded €159 267.37 in total.
In addition to youth-oriented calls, in December 2019, the former Ministry for Demography, Family, Youth and Social Policy (MDFYSP) opened the Call for Proposals Focused on Reducing and Preventing Social Exclusion and Promoting Social Inclusion and Integration of Socially Vulnerable Groups for 2019/2020. This Call was aimed at non-profit organisations focusing on work with socially sensitive, vulnerable, and marginalised groups, as well as individuals with approved international protection, former prisoners, older people, and homeless individuals. Youth organisations and organisations for youth could also apply for financial support for projects contributing to social inclusion if they aligned with the priority areas of this Call. The total planned value of the Call was HRK 6 500 000.00. The same Call was implemented for 2018/2019, and the total sum for 33 projects amounted to HRK 5 237 000.00.
The Call for proposal entitled ‘Support for Youth-oriented Programmes’ was opened in 2017 with the aim of increasing social inclusion of young people. The Call outlined programme activities as follows:
- ensuring quality leisure time
- informing young people and providing counselling on relevant topics
- youth violence prevention
- improvement of social skills and competences development, contributing to the labour market competitiveness and social inclusion
- fostering active participation of young people in society
Total grants within this Call amounted to HRK 12 000 000.00 (with an 85%:15% ratio of European Union and national funding), which were secured through the European Social Fund, Operational Programme Efficient Human Resources. The public body in charge of the implementation of the Call was the former MDFYSP. The MDFYSP awarded 15 programmes within the priority area ‘Youth work-oriented activities’ and two programmes within the priority area ‘Establishment and activities of youth centres’ in May 2018.
The MDFYSP was in charge of implementing the following calls for proposals from the European Social Fund, Operational Programme Efficient Human Resources 2014-2020:
- Inclusive Society through Reading, open from December 2020 to March 2021. The total value of the grant was HRK 41 000 000.00.
- Including Children and Young People in the Risk of Social Exclusion, Individuals with Disabilities, and Children with Developmental Difficulties in the Community through Sport, open from June 2018 to December 2019. During that period, 57 projects were awarded a total of HRK 63 702 712.05.
- Support to the Marginalised Groups’ Social Inclusion and Employment, open from September 2017 to December 2019. During that period, 80 projects were awarded a total of HRK 263 240 256.50.
- Support to the Deinstitutionalisation Process and the Prevention of Children and Youth Institutionalisation, open from March 2017 to December 2020. During that period, seven projects were awarded a total of HRK 39 657 575.31.
- Art and Culture for Youth. The Call was opened in 2017, and during 2017 and 2018, 29 projects were awarded a total of HRK 17 968 221.23.
The Ministry of Regional Development and European Union Funds was the competent body for the implementation of the Call for Proposals Improving the Infrastructure of Social Services Providers for Children and Youth in Support of the Deinstitutionalisation Process – Phase 1, funded by the European Regional Development Fund, Operational Programme Competitiveness and Cohesion 2014-2020. The Call was opened from 2016 to 2018. During that period, five projects were awarded a total of HRK 51 471 423.28.
In 2020, the former Ministry of Labour and Pension System opened the Call for Project Proposals ‘Find me!’ - Implementation of Activities to Reach and Educate Inactive Young People in NEET Status (UP.01.2.0.04). This Call was announced within the European Social Fund, Operational Programme Effective Human Resources 2014-2020, under the Priority Axis 1 – High Employability and Labour Mobility, Specific Objective 8.ii.1 – Increasing Employment and Rapid Integration of the NEET Group through the Youth Employment Initiative into the labour market. The Minister of Labour, Pension System, Family and Social Policy and the Director of the Croatian Employment Service awarded 31 contracts with a total value of HRK 50 million within the Call to civil society organisations, public bodies, sports societies, etc.
Applicants whose projects were approved are obliged to submit a narrative and financial report to the competent public bodies, following the provisions of the financial support agreement.