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EACEA National Policies Platform: Youthwiki


1. Youth Policy Governance

1.3 National youth strategy

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 does have a National Youth Strategy. In 2013, "Noortevaldkonna arengukava 2014-2020" (Youth Field Development Plan 2014-2020) was adopted by the government of Estonia. The document outlines strategic goals in the field of youth. The main goal introduced in the development plan is to provide young people with opportunities of development and self-realization which support a socially coherent and creative society in general. The consultation of young people and their representatives was an important part of the development of the plan. There were online consultations, working groups, and written consultation opportunities during the whole process.

This development plan addresses causes of problems pertaining to young people (such as the growing emigration of youth, high unemployment rate of youth aged 15–19, the number of young people not studying or working, high relative poverty rate, problematic health behavior, including in particular the risk behavior of young men) as well as strengthens positive trends. In the development plan, youth work is seen as a policy measure helping to implement activities aimed to achieve policy goals in the field of youth. 

As the current development plan ends in 2020, a new development plan for the strategic period of 2021-2035 is being created. See more in the section Revision/Updates.

Scope and contents

The main elements of the Youth Field Development Plan 2014-2020 are the following: 

  • the starting points of the development plan, the background and an overview of the present situation of young people, their needs and opportunities;
  • main principles, goals, activities, and indicators for the years 2014-2020;
  • the management and implementation of the development plan, monitoring and financing, connections to other national strategies and taking into account overarching topics.

The goals of the youth field for the years 2014-2020 are identified in the Youth Field Development Plan 2014-2020. Adoption of the development plan announces a shift toward consolidation of the youth field as a separate policy field both in terms of substantive goals as well as in terms of its position in the Estonian administrative political system.  

The difference of the current development plan from the previous similar documents is in the approach to focus on goals and measures that are designed to achieve a positive change in the challenges that were identified as most significant. The plan does not describe concrete measures in all areas of youth work and youth policy. The main goal of the development plan maintains that young people will have a comprehensive range of opportunities for self-development and self-realization and that the youth field will support the development of social cohesion and creativity in society in general. 

The plan contains four sub-goals: 

  • the young people will have more choices in terms of discovering their creative and developmental potential,
  • the young people will face a lower risk of exclusion,
  • the participation of young people in the decision-making will be supported more,
  • the youth field operates more efficiently.

Principles of national youth policy are outlined in the Youth Field Development Plan 2014-2020: 

  • to address the young people as a whole - it means that in order to implement really efficient activities to achieve any objective or solve any problem concerning young people, it is necessary to observe young people’s living in its entity as well as factors affecting it and not to stay within the limits of an area of administration of the institutions or fields;
  • to involve the young people - it means that the involvement is the tool to ensure the quality and impact of the planned measures;
  • to achieve synergies - it means to pursue the greatest common impact through the use of different fields and knowledge.

Main principles of the measures of the development plan: 

  • The target group consisting of youth is not homogeneous. In developing and implementing any measures and activities, the actual conditions and needs of a specific group of young people must be followed and specialties arising from the gender, nationality, culture, state of health, place of residence, socio-economic situation, etc., must be taken into account.
  • Youth work supports the health as well as values and attitudes promoting a healthy lifestyle of youth through all the measures. This presumes the continuous development of competencies and tools of people working in the field of youth and relies on a knowledge-based approach by target groups, training courses, tools, and interventions.
  • Youth affairs also contribute to the integration of society, including the promotion of equality and prevention of discrimination as well as care for the surrounding environment.
  • Upon developing and implementing measures of youth policy and youth work, it is important to assist youth in obtaining self-confidence and the ability to cope with crucial spheres of life, such as studies, labour market, family relations, etc. The difficulties of youth must be early noticed and, if necessary, assistance must be provided to find the required professional support.
  • Youth affairs form a part of the functioning cooperation between different areas related to the life of youth. If necessary, systemic cooperation must be initiated and the operation thereof must be supported.

Responsible authority for the implementation of the Youth Strategy

Ministry in charge of youth is the Estonian Ministry of Education and Research. Department responsible for youth is the Department of Youth and Talent Policy. Main goals of the department: 

  • Developing legislation to ensure the appropriate legislative environment for implementing youth policy.
  • Ensuring purposefulness and consistency in the implementation of youth policy.
  • Planning of resources necessary for the implementation of youth policy.
  • Ensuring cohesiveness of youth policy.
  • Holding a public dialogue with partners to come to a social agreement on questions pertaining to youth policy.

To succeed in achieving the goals listed above, the department carries out a range of tasks. The main task of the department is to arrange activities pertaining to youth policy and youth at the Ministry of Education and Research and to consult the Minister and other ministerial officials in youth policy and youth work-related themes. 

Since 1st of August, the national agency responsible for the implementation of education and youth policy, is the Education and Youth Board. The institution was established on the basis of the services of Innove FoundationArchimedes FoundationInformation Technology Foundation for Education and Estonian Youth Work Centre. This means that the Education and Youth Board implements also the Estonian Youth Field Development Plan 2014-2020 and performs other functions arising from the Youth Work Act and other relevant laws. 

Evidence-based monitoring or assessment of the implementation of the national development plan is being conducted annually through the indicators set in the development plan. The indicators and the results of the Youth Field Development Plan are the following: 

Indicator201420152016201720182019Goal for 2020
The proportion of the young people aged 18-24 with basic education or lower, who do not continue their studies12,0%12,2%10,9%10,8%11,3%9,8%<9,0%
Satisfaction of youth work of young people participating in youth work-87,0%-87%-Keep the levelKeep the level
The youth unemployment rate amongst young people aged 15-2415,0%13,1%13,4%12,1%11,8%11,1%10,0%
The involvement of young people in youth work (% of all young people)47,0%49,1%50,0%54,0%57,8%59,5%


Young people per hobby school*492456475428369353400
Young people per youth center1181115410779969899821000
The organized opportunities to participate (youth councils), since 2018 the percentage of opportunities to participate (% of all municipalities)8583907074,4%89,9%89,0%
The youth workers participating training programmes in a year10,0%12,0%15,9%20,0%15,0%17,0%15,0%

* A hobby schoolis an educational establishment operating in the area of youth work which creates an opportunity for the acquisition of hobby education and for the diverse development of the personality, including cultivation of one’s own language and culture, in different areas of hobby education. 


No revisions and updates have been made to the Estonian Youth Field Development Plan 2014-2020. 

In 2019, the official process of compiling the Youth Field Development Plan 2021-2035 (Noortevaldkonna arengukava 2021-2035) was started. The process is already so far that the draft documents have been sent to the Government Office for processing.

The new development plan is targeted to the whole youth age group (7-26), but has some indicators targeted to young people aged 18-26 as well. The vision for the year 2035 is that all young people in diffrent areas of Estonia live a full and healthy life and are empowered to change the community and state so that Estonia has the best environment for growing, living and fulfilling. Similarly to the previous development plan up to 2020, there are 4 strategic goals:

  1. the young people are a creative and powerful force in the society - they are the leaders in the fields of education, culture, economy, environment and all other fields;
  2. the protection of young people's rights in the state is consistent and the active youth civic participation is supported;
  3. the high-quality youth work (including hobby education) is available all over Estonia and creates all young people the possibilities for diverse development, success stories, enrichment of experience, and independence;
  4. the loneliness and exclusion of young people are noticed and precented through a safety network that increases confidence and security.

The new indicators for the next strategic period are:

Goal 1Starting level 2021Target in 2035
The share (%) of non-profit organizations run by young people aged 18-26 amongst active non-profit organizations4,68,0
The share (%) of young people studying in a hobby schools amongst all young people aged 7-2628,835,0
The number of own-initiative projects for young poeple aged 7-26will be definedwill be defined
The share (%) of young entrepreneurs amongst young people aged 18-263,910,0
Goal 2Starting level 2021Target in 2035
The number of forms of participation74will be defined
The share (%) of candidates aged 18-26 amongst all candidates for the local elections6,515,0
The share (%) of participation in voluntary activitieswill be definedwill be defined
Goal 3Starting level 2021Target in 2035
The share (%) of local municipalities where youth work services are at least at the "advanced" levelwill be definedwill be defined
The share (%) of young people satisfied with youth work services87,0will be defined
Goal 4Starting level 2021Target in 2035
The share (%) of young people aged 7-26 who rate the support availablewill be definedwill be defined
The share (%) of young people participating in intervention and special youth work programs amongst the whole target groupwill be definedwill be defined
The share (%) of young people who have left the NEET status amongst all young people participating in youth work serviceswill be definedwill be defined