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There is no single document targeted to deal with social exclusion of young people, but a set of official documents integrating major directions to be followed in the organization of policymaking and implementation in relation to the social inclusion of young people at the national level. See more in Chapters 4 & 4.1.
There is a prominent focus on social inclusion in the current national youth strategy, Youth Field Development Plan 2021-2035 (Noortevaldkonna arengukava 2021-2035), adopted by the Government 12.08.2021. This presents the central policy strategy in the area of youth specifically, hence the details of the national youth field strategy are elaborated in following.
The Youth Field Development Plan 2021-2035 (Noortevaldkonna arengukava 2021-2035) aims at a wide variety of development opportunities, a sense of security, and strong support for young people to create Estonia that youth wishes to further develop and advance. The strategy is specifically for the age group of 7–26 years old, declaring that in comparison with other age groups, young people have more limited rights (for example the legal capacity of minors) and opportunities (such as entry to the labour market or access to economic resources). To foster the social inclusion of youth, the focus is on youth rights and participation, empowerment and social security.
The Development Plan declares that youth work activities are based on the principle of equal treatment and that the national youth strategy provides the prerequisites for making youth work available to all young people by including young people at risk of exclusion, belonging to a minority of having special needs in order to provide opportunities for the versatile development of the youth. The readiness of youth for independent life (entry into the labour market and access to youth work services and activities regardless of age) is supported and the issue of age-sensitivity (the position of young people in the society) is addressed. The development plan also supports the regional availability of youth services and the provision of specialist training of youth workers on regional level. Attention is paid to the removal of geographical circumstances hindering participation in youth work activities; participation of young people in the local-level decision-making processes is supported (including the relevant responsibilities of local governments).
There are four strategic goals defined – momentum; participation; independence; security – each of them with references to specific challenges also in relation to the social inclusion of youth, f.ex:
- to recognise youth as creative momentum for positive societal change and development, ensuring perspectives for self-development, self-realisation and entrepreneurship for everyone, with specific attention to youth with fewer opportunities;
- to safeguard the rights and participation of young people with specific approaches and tools for youth with fewer opportunites and risk backgrounds;
- to guarantee the access to quality youth work services reducing the regional disparities and moving barriers for young people with special needs;
- to strengthen the sense of security of youth by fostering the early stage noticing and prevention of exclusion and detachment, support to different risk groups (like young people not involved in education, training or work and those with health challenges) and better awareness in society at large with the aim to fight stigmatisation.
In addition to strategic goals and more specific objectives, the national youth field strategy defines the strategic indicators, f.ex in relation to social inclusion the ratio (%) of 15-29 year olds not in education, employment or training (NEET-youth), the ratio (%) of 15-26 year olds who evaluate support as available to them etc.
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 the youth. The management of the area is based on a functioning youth field monitoring and analysing system which ensures the efficiency, impact analysis and development monitoring of youth field services. A consistent evaluation of a youth-centred policy development is organised in cooperation with the Estonian National Youth Council.
On operational level, programmes with more specific quality assurance measures are being prepared and will follow for the years until 2035.
The Youth Field Development Plan 2021-2035 (Noortevaldkonna arengukava 2021-2035) was 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 the youth, in cooperation with the Estonian National Youth Council.
The implementation of the development plan and relevant reporting is supported by a broad-based management committee. The work of the committee is led by the Ministry of Education and Research and the committee includes representatives from the Ministry of Social Affairs, the Ministry of Justice, Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of Finance and the Government Office.
The Youth Field Development Plan 2021-2035 was adopted 12.08.2021 and presents a strategic long-term visionary and is implemented through the youth field programme and if necessary, through a joint programme (work in progress). The programme specifies a time-scheme and specific activities per each area, plus the costs for the four years (1+3). The programmes are prepared while planning the State Budget Strategy (SBS) and are reviewed annually in order to ensure coordination with the changing external circumstances and the SBS.
Development plan reporting is organised for each programme, using needs-based evaluation. The achievement of the development plan’s goals is evaluated at least twice during the implementation period with the final interim evaluation organised not later than three years before the termination of the programme period. The Ministry of Education and Research prepares an annual progress report.