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YouthWiki

EACEA National Policies Platform
Estonia

Estonia

1. Youth Policy Governance

1.3 National youth strategy

Last update: 16 March 2022
On this page
  1. Existence of a National Youth Strategy
  2. Scope and contents
  3. Responsible authority for the implementation of the Youth Strategy
  4. Revisions/updates

Existence of a National Youth Strategy

Estonia has a strong tradition of systematic organising the youth field based on national youth strategies already since early 2000-ies, with its Youth Work Concept followed by Youth Work Development Plan 2001-2004, Youth Work Strategy 2006-2013 and Youth Field Development Plan 2014-2020.

The latest, the Youth Field Development Plan 2021-2035 (Noortevaldkonna arengukava 2021-2035) has been adopted 12.08.2021 and represents one of the specific field policy strategies under the overarching national strategy „Estonia 2035“ Strategy (Strateegia „Eesti 2035“).

The Youth Field Development Plan 2021-2035 outlines the main strategic goals in the field of youth. The main goal introduced in the development plan is to provide young people with a wide variety of development opportunities so that a sense of security and strong support for young people creates an Estonian state that the youth wishes to further.

As highlighted in the national youth strategy, the major changes in the latest national youth strategy are:

  • Added description of basic principles and development framework youth field development relied and relies upon
  • Call for wider and better use of public space for youth development
  • Stronger call for smart youth work
  • An even stronger effort to youth participation including new ambitious forms
  • Development of a youth talent policy
  • Systematic implementation of a youth sector monitoring and analysis system
  • Stronger call for local authorities for action
  • Introducing the transfer to compulsory professional qualification and call for dealing with youth worker profession using modern practices and ensuring work happiness
  • Strengthening youth-oriented solutions (including support and safety networks).

In the development plan, youth work is seen as key in helping to implement activities aimed to achieve policy goals in the field of youth. 

Scope and contents

The Youth Field Development Plan 2021-2035 outlines the main strategic goals in the field of youth. The main goal introduced in the development plan is to provide young people with a wide variety of development opportunities so that a sense of security and strong support for young people creates an Estonian state that the youth wishes to further.

Furthermore, there are four strategic goals defined in the field of youth:  

Strategic goal no. 1: MOMENTUM – Young people are the creative momentum driving the society onwards – the drivers and leaders in the fields of education, culture, economy, the environment and so on.

Strategic goal no. 2: PARTICIPATION – the protection of youth rights in the state is consistent and active youth participation is supported.

Strategic goal no. 3: INDEPENDENCE – quality youth work (including hobby education for young people) is available across Estonia and provides all young people with opportunities for versatile self-development, experiencing success, acquiring experience and gaining independence.

Strategic goal no. 4: SECURITY – The exclusion and detachment of young people is noticed and prevented through a safety network that increases a sense of security.

 

As highlighted in the national youth strategy, the major changes in the latest national youth strategy are:

  • Added description of basic principles and development framework youth field development relied and relies upon
  • Call for wider and better use of public space for youth development
  • Stronger call for smart youth work
  • An even stronger effort to youth participation including new ambitious forms
  • Development of a youth talent policy
  • Systematic implementation of a youth sector monitoring and analysis system
  • Stronger call for local authorities for action
  • Introducing the transfer to compulsory professional qualification and call for dealing with youth worker profession using modern practices and ensuring work happiness
  • Strengthening youth-oriented solutions (including support and safety networks).

One of the important focuses of the national youth strategy has always been the youth participation – being defined as one of the strategic goals. When developing the latest Youth Field Development Plan 2021-2035, consultations with young people and their representatives were an important part, incl. online consultations, working groups, and written consultations during the whole process. Furthermore, the strategy aims at further advancing the participation opportunities for youth by diversifying the participation formats and introducing two new measures at the highest level, like creating an advisory group at the Prime Minister’s office and a youth roundtable at the President’s office to give young people increased opportunities to express their opinion.

 

The Youth Field Development Plan 2021-2035 also defines the underlying principles for services and policy approaches concerning youth:

  • Awareness that young people have specific needs. Young people experience weighty transitions on their journey to independence and social maturity. They need attention and support to reduce the risk of social vulnerability and to make up for age-related limitations in political participation and representation. Young people are a consistently decreasing group in an aging society. The less there are young people, the more significant understanding, inclusion and empowerment becomes.
  • To be informed about and to understand young people. Young people cannot be treated as a homogenous group – one must consider their age, different challenges and needs. A knowledge-based approach allows to understand the real interests, wishes and needs of young people and consider these when planning youth policies as well as for as early detection of individual cases as possible and for supporting each and every young person. The impact of each measure on young people must be consistently analysed during policymaking.
  • To ensure the autonomy of young people and the protection of their rights. The youth sector sees the life and developmental needs of young people as an integral whole – this ensures support for young people without any prior categorisation (student, unemployed, offender, etc.). The protection of youth rights is the prerequisite of their awareness of the limitations of their rights and of their obligations.
  • To consider young people as equal partners. Communication with young people must be based on ethical considerations and empathy. Free will and participation of young people are key factors here, as are their opportunities for communication and co-creation with peers as such activities facilitate self-discovery as well as the discovery of other people and the surrounding life.
  • To ensure meaningful active inclusion and participation of young people in weighing options, making decisions and implementing them. Young people must have the ability to make choices, show initiative and create solutions regarding important challenges by receiving enough information, support and feedback. Young people must also have their say in the planning, design, implementation and evaluation of services intended for them. This is one way to empower young people in their development into active and caring citizens.
  • To value the development and self-realisation of young people. The approaches intended for young people facilitate development and are based on the principles of non-formal education, such as transparency, confidentiality, voluntary nature, active inclusion of participants and other democratic values. When supporting development, it is equally important to shape the future and ensure a copious development environment here and now; this includes an awareness about the direct impact of family and the environment on the development of young people. The self-development process of young people must include versatile opportunities to challenge oneself in new situations, safely experiment, make mistakes and learn from one’s experience while being understood and supported on their journey.
  • To value each young person. In relationships with young people, their human dignity and right of self- determination is respected and their special needs and requests are considered. A respectful and empowering attitude towards young people facilitates their integration and the cohesion of the society as a whole.

As for the planned periood until 2035, the National Youth Strategy states that the focus should be targeted at following:

  • An integrated functioning of the youth sector. A coordinated and purposeful activity in different areas of life that is based on the needs and challenges of young people must be systematic and consistent. Not every activity that targets and includes young people can be automatically considered as youth work and not every service intended for yound people can be regarded as a youth work service. The youth sector only includes services that are youth-centred, developed and organised for young people, carry the values of the youth sector and are based on achieving synergy with other areas of activity. Achieving synergy is purposeful only when the services of the area of activity are not transformed due to cooperation and young people are not deprived of the specific impact of youth work services. Service providers have a key role in ensuring the development of youth work services. Eventhough all measures described in the development plan are mainly targeted for young people by the definition provided in Youth Work Act – natural persons between 7 to 26 years of age – the development plan might also include measures or activities targeted for younger or older persons, in order to prevent negative effects from transitioning as well allow more equal access to various services.
  • Quality youth work. Quality youth work (including hobby education for young people) is a collection of public services with the purpose of providing young people with opportunities outside formal education, work and home for voluntary self-discovery and development and collective and individual action. Youth work as an area of activity that interacts with young people in diverse ways works as a bridge between different walks of life and where necessary, between young people and other public services meant for them, considering the interests and needs of young people. The quality is based on a systematic and conscious planning of activities as experiences of belonging, informal and non-formal learning and participation for the young person, from the initial introduction to indepth education. The quality is based on qualified youth workers who possess professional competences, capability to initiate and lead, professional work practices and engagement in continuous self-education via tertiary education, training courses etc.
  • International cooperation. International cooperation supports the comprehensive development of youth work (including hobby education for young people) and youth policy. It allows using international expertise to consistently grow the competences and retention of youth workers, to empower youth sector actors and to develop quality youth work services. Estonia’s best practices in turn inspire international cooperation in the youth sector and support a mutually enriching dialogue and intercultural learning. International cooperation in the youth sec- tor is based on the Estonian membership of the European Union, Council of Europe and on other international cooperation platforms, including bilateral and multilateral cooperation agreements.
  • Broad-based knowledge. Knowledge in the youth sector is based on the outcomes of analyses and scientific research, practical knowhow acquired in daily work and the input and contribution of young people as the experts of their lives. A synthesis of all the above mentioned provides the necessary knowledge base to measure performance, develop policies of the subject field and achieve progress. Coordinated action is required in the areas of systematic data collection from participants of the sector, monitoring of the situation, organisation of surveys and analyses and cooperation (including with scientists) for a comprehensive monitoring and analysis system that offers information about the lives of young people and the status of provided youth services necessary for decision-making and analysis of meaningful connections for youth policy. The development of youth policy measures and services must be based on monitoring the situation of young people and analysing their needs. Decisions must be based on the best, most relevant and contemporary knowledge. Youth services must be subject to consistent collection of information, their implementation must be monitored and outco- mes must be evaluated. Comprehensive and reliable knowledge must form the basis of decision-making on all levels and in all areas of the youth sector.

Responsible authority for the implementation of the Youth Strategy

The development plan is approved by the Government of the Republic after discussing the document at the Riigikogu. The implementation of the development plan is coordinated by the Ministry of Education and Research with all relevant ministries contributing within their scope.

The implementation of the development plan is based on inclusive management and organisation of youth policy. It is ensured that youth policy has a multidisciplinary approach and is based on understanding the real circumstances and needs of young people and the inclusion of young people. The management of the area is based on a youth sector monitoring and analysing system which ensures the efficiency, impact analysis and development monitoring of youth sector services. A consistent evaluation of a youth-centered policy development is organised in cooperation with the Estonian National Youth Council.

The implementation of the development plan and relevant reporting is supported by a steering committee. In 2022 MoER desided to run joint steering commettee for management of youth field development plan and education strategy. The members of the committee are: the Ministry of Education and Research, the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of Econimic Affairs and Communications, the Ministry of Social Affairs, the Ministry of Environment, the Ministry of Rural Affairs, Ministry of the Interior, the Government Office, National Youth Council, Estonian Language Advisory Commettee, Estonian Chamber of Disabled People, The Association of Estonian Cities and Municipalities, Estonian Employers' Confederation, The Estonian Chamber of Commerce, Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund, Estonian Trade Union Confederation and up to 7 experts. Extra to that subcommittee on Youth Policy will be established including members from  Estonian School Student Councils' Union, Federation of Estonian Student Unions,  Youth associations of Estonian Defence League, The Estonian Youth Mental Health Movement, VeniVidiVici, Estonian 4H, Association of Estonian Open Youth Centers, The Estonian Association of Youth Workers, Estonian Social Enterprise Network, Statistics Estonia, Hobby education Council. The committee supports the coordinated implementation of education and youth policies, advises the minister, supports the consideration of the connections and impact between different areas when implementing the development plan, analyses reports and evaluates progress towards the development plan’s goals. The steering committee gives recommendations for the introduction, amendment and conclusion of programmes on the basis of related progress reports and provides an evaluation regarding the amendment and conclusion of the development plan. The work of the steering committee is based on the monitoring of youth sector, this including the national youth report commissioned by the Ministry of Education and Research monitoring the situation with young people and the development of the field.

Following the adoption of the national youth strategy, operational programmes are developed, with key responsibility shared between the Estonian Ministry of Education and Research, Department of Youth and Talent Policy and the Education and Youth Board.

Revisions/updates

The latest Youth Sector Development Plan 2021-2035 presents the long-term vision for the strategic development of youth field and compared to previous approaches, highlights the following major changes:

  • Added description of basic principles and development framework youth field development relied and relies upon
  • Call for wider and better use of public space for youth development
  • Stronger call for smart youth work
  • An even stronger effort to youth participation including new ambitious forms
  • Development of a youth talent policy
  • Systematic implementation of a youth sector monitoring and analysis system
  • Stronger call for local authorities for action
  • Introducing the transfer to compulsory professional qualification and call for dealing with youth worker profession using modern practices and ensuring work happiness
  • Strengthening youth-oriented solutions (including support and safety networks).

Further indicators and operational programmes will be developed in order to support the implementation of the National Youth Strategy.