1.3 National youth strategy
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A National Youth Strategy of Cyprus (“Εθνική Στρατηγική για τη Νεολαία” in Greek) exists in Cyprus. The Strategy was adopted by the Council of Ministers on 18 May 2017 according to the Decision no. 82549. It consists of the government’s plan for empowering young people and it covers the period 2017-2022.
Scope and contents
The vision of the National Youth Strategy of Cyprus is that all young people of Cyprus have equal opportunities in empowerment, in order to reach their full potential in all aspects of life, and develop their talents for the benefit of themselves and the society,
The Strategy covers the 8 areas of the EU Youth Strategy and sets 2 objectives in every area. Therefore, the objectives of the National Youth Strategy are as follows:
- Education & training
- Objective 1: Assurance of quality education for all young people
- Objective 2: Assurance of equal opportunities for education and training for young people
- Employment & entrepreneurship
- Objective 1: Development, support and promotion of entrepreneurship among young people
- Objective 2: Enhancement of the employability of young people and their integration into the labour market, while ensuring their labour rights
- Health & well-being
- Objective 1: Equal and uninterrupted access to quality and youth friendly health services
- Objective 2: Promotion of health and well-being and prevention of diseases
- Objective 1: Assurance of youth participation in all decision-making stages for shaping policies that reflect the needs and views of young people
- Objective 2: Empowerment of youth for active participation in democratic life
- Voluntary activities
- Objective 1: Development of a volunteering mindset and promotion of voluntary involvement of young people
- Objective 2: Official recognition and validation of skills acquired through volunteering
- Social inclusion
- Objective 1: Ensure equality and respect for human rights
- Objective 2: Create a mindset that promotes social inclusion
- Youth & the world
- Objective 1: Creation and utilization of opportunities for mobility
- Objective 2: Promotion of a universal, inter-cultural and environmental mind-set
- Creativity & culture
- Objective 1: Creation of conditions for equal access and participation in the arts and culture
- Objective 2: Development of conditions for artistic creation
The National Youth Strategy does not identify any specific target groups within the youth population, although 3 of the priorities included in the area of Social Inclusion target mainly young people with fewer opportunities.
Design of the National Youth Strategy 2017-2022
When designing the National Youth Strategy, young people and their representatives (such as the Cyprus Youth Council, Cyprus Youth Clubs Organization, the Cyprus Children Parliament and the European Youth Parliament) have been consulted by the responsible public authorities. The following methods were used for consultations with young people:
- The National Youth Conference 2015
Taking into account that the development of the National Youth Strategy should ensure the participation of young people in its creation, the Youth Board of Cyprus launched the National Youth Conference 2015 (available only in Greek). The conference took place on 26 May 2015 and its aim was to initiate the design of the National Youth Strategy.
More than 300 young people, from all over Cyprus and coming from diverse backgrounds were involved. During the second part of the conference, young people had the opportunity to submit their proposals for designing the National Youth Strategy. Thus, eight thematic workshops were organized, each one corresponding to the priorities of the European Youth Strategy 2010-2018. By the end of the conference, young people came up with concrete proposals that were taken into account when developing the Strategy.
- Focus groups
In order to go deeper into discussions with young people about the National Youth Strategy, 9 focus groups were organized. The focus groups were organized in partnership with the Cyprus Youth Council, the Cyprus Youth Clubs Organization, the Cyprus Children Parliament and the Local Youth Councils. Each focus group was consisted of 10 to 15 people (with a total of 147 participants) and their duration was about three hours. The ultimate goal of this method was to provide a space for dialogue and consultation among young people in order to reach specific recommendations that would be incorporated into the National Youth Strategy.
In order to get a qualitative perspective on the opinions of the young people, especially those belonging to disadvantaged groups, nine interviews (on a ‘one-to-one’ basis) were conducted. Interviews were conducted with two subjects from each of the following age groups (13-17, 18-24, 25-29 and 30-35 years old). Also, considering the gender balance, there was a male and a female participant in each age group. The participants in this method included a teenager, a person from a remote area, an ex-unaccompanied under aged migrant from Africa, a person from Palestine, a Turkish Cypriot, a person with multiple sclerosis, an unemployed person and a gay person.
Based on the recommendations drafted from the previous methods, an online questionnaire was launched. The questionnaire was open between 22/08/2016 and 18/09/2016 and collected in total 308 responses. The questionnaire aimed at prioritizing the existing recommendations based on a scale ‘very important to not important’. It also allowed the participants to submit their own input on the objectives of the National Youth Strategy.
Last, it should be mentioned that the results of other kinds of consultations with young people, such as the Structured Dialogue national results and the Erasmus+ KA3 youth results were also taken into consideration.
Consultations on the implementation of the Strategy
Since the establishment of the Strategy in 2017, the Youth Board of Cyprus has carried out several consultations with young people concerning the implementation and revision of the Strategy.
Specifically, in 2018 the Youth Board organised 9 local consultations with young people living in urban and rural areas with the aim to evaluate the first Action Plan (2017-2019), provide feedback and suggest new programmes or modifications to the existing ones so that they can be included in the second Action Plan. The results of these consultations were submitted to the Council of Ministers and then presented to the members of the Cross-Sectoral Working Group.
Within 2020, the Youth Board in cooperation with the Ministry of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Development, organised two consultations in rural areas with young people and youth farmers, in order to discuss their main challenges, needs and ways for their better support, especially under the new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).
In general, consultations with youth on the implementation of the Strategy are taking place on an ad hoc basis.
The top-level authority responsible for the coordination and monitoring of the implementation of the National Youth Strategy is the Youth Board of Cyprus, which runs under the auspices of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sport and Youth.
The ministry primarily responsible for youth in regard to the National Youth Strategy is the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sport and Youth. Representatives of the Ministry are members of the Monitoring Committee of the National Youth Strategy, which consists of the Cross-sectoral Working Group on Youth (includes all public services dealing with youth), the Youth Board of Cyprus and the Cyprus Youth Council. Additionally, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sport and Youth is responsible for submitting to the Council of Ministers the action plans, progress reports and future steps of the Strategy which are prepared by the Youth Board of Cyprus in close collaboration with the above-mentioned bodies.
All government actors involved in the Strategy developed the two three-year Action Plans of the Strategy (2017-2019 & 2020-2022) and also prepared a progress report regarding the implementation of the A’ Action Plan 2017-2019. The evaluation of the implementation of the National Youth Strategy is planned to be conducted at the end of 2022.
At the moment, the National Youth Strategy is not yet integrated into the overall national development policy. It is a separated document that sets the main goals and objectives of the policies of the government that target youth.
The National Youth Strategy did not undergo any revisions. The first Action Plan (2017-2019) of the National Youth Strategy was completed and it has been discussed in open consultations with youth as mentioned above. The second Action Plan (2020-2022) has been approved by the Council of Ministers and it is currently under implementation. The second Action Plan includes all the programmes and actions that governmental authorities are implementing for the period 2020-2022 in order to achieve the priorities and objectives of the National Youth Strategy. Furthermore, preparations for drafting a new Strategy after 2022 are currently taking place.