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Youth Work Act provides the legal basis for the organization and financing of youth work, including the youth work with a view to foster social inclusion. The Act defines the main terms used in the youth field, main institutions, organizations and forms of youth work, the principles of youth work, financing of youth work, etc. The Act describes the division of tasks regarding youth work of the Ministry of Education and Research and local municipalities. The Act defines municipal and local youth councils.
The policy goals of youth work are described in Youth Sector Development Plan 2021-2035 (Noortevaldkonna arengukava 2021-2035). The document outlines 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.
See chapter 1.3 for a more detailed information about the Youth Sector Development Plan 2021-2035, adopted 12.08.2021.
The programmes described in chapter 4.4 include the most prominent initiatives in youth work targeting specifically vulnerable young people. Chapter 4.4. provides information on the content, target groups and funding of these programmes. Youth organizations have been consulted in designing the programmes and/or are actively involved in delivery of these programmes and results.
In addition to programmes mentioned in chapter 4.4, there are other initiatives serving to support inclusion of young people, like the national programme Caring Class (Hooliv klass) that aims at supporting positiive relationships between the class community of pupils, teachers and other support staff like youth workers, psychologists, social pedagogues etc in school. The programme is targeting pupils of 6-7th grade and is coordinated by the Education and Youth Board.
Youth work, in general, is provided in Estonia by the local governments. The most important organizations and institutions involved in the actual offer of youth work services are:
- Youth and youth work NGOs;
- Youth centres;
- Hobby schools;
- Youth camps;
The conducting, managing and evaluating youth work contains the following main parts in Estonia:
- Policy goals are set at the level of Government of the Republic together with the budget allocation to the youth work, including resources from financial instruments, which the Government has the right to decide the allocation of.
- The Ministry of Education and Research together with Education and Youth Board, as a national youth work agency, is responsible for the proposal of changes, monitoring and coordination of the implementation of the policy in cooperation with other ministries and public institutions. The Ministry and/or Education and Youth Board can contract local governments and other youth work providers or their umbrella organizations, universities etc to finance the services that are defined in the policy plans.
- Starting from 01.01.2021, also the management of EU youth programmes have been merged to the responsibilities of the Education and Youth Board, with the Department of Youth Programs of the Agency of Erasmus+ and European Solidarity Corps formed. It operates as the Estonian NA for the Erasmus+ programme.
- Local governments are responsible for provision, planning and implementation of youth work. Local Governments can establish municipal institutions for the provision of services or contract private institutions, including non-profit organisations such as youth organizations etc.
- Universities provide professional formal education for youth workers based on national occupational standards for youth workers.
- The evaluation is done at the national level based on the guidelines developed in the frame of operational programmes following the adoption of the Youth Sector Development Plan 2021-2035 (Noortevaldkonna arengukava 2021-2035) by the Ministry of Education and Research and reported to the Government yearly. The local governments are responsible for the evaluation of the provision of youth work services; there are supporting mechanisms created by the Education and Youth Board to support the evaluation. Youth organizations, youth clubs etc that are NGOs are responsible for their internal evaluation mechanisms.
The public funding is available, however, it is difficult to specify the exact amounts allocated to youth work providers to support their capacity in the field of social inclusion of young people specifically as the work with such ambitions can take various formats. Furthermore, as inclusitivity can be considered as a general aim of youth work in Estonia.
Professional formal education (BA or equivalent and MA level) is available for youth workers at two universities: Tallinn University and Tartu Univerisity, the latter providing opportunities to study in Narva College and in Viljandi Cultural Academy.
To support capacities of youth work sector to work for social inclusion of young people, there have been different programmes implemented on national level, both from the state budget as well as from the EU funds. For example there was a programme “Development of youth worker training” established by the Ministry of Education and Research with the funding from European Social Fund and state budget for the years 2014-2020. The programme provided training for youth workers, training for trainers, supported the development of training materials etc. As an example, a Handbook on Inclusive Youth Work (Kaasava noorsootöö käsiraamat)has been published in order to support the respective competences in youth field.
Education and Youth Board, a governmental institution under the administration of the Ministry of Education and Research, has a wide range of tasks for the implementation of youth policy and the development of youth work, including the implementation of different programmes supporting the capacity building of youth work providers, development of youth work quality and its instruments etc.
The public funding in addition to the programmes initiated by the Government and described in this chapter is available, however, it is difficult to specify the exact amounts allocated to youth work providers to support their capacity in the field of social inclusion of young people specifically as the work with such ambitions can take various formats. Furthermore, as inclusitivity can be considered as a general aim of youth work in Estonia.
The funding of youth policy including youth work is described in chapter 1.8. The main sources of funding include the state budget, local budgets, EU support.
The mechanisms to monitor and ensure the quality of measures in youth work are subject to the overall mechanism of policy monitoring and evaluation, and the outcomes of it, described in chapter 4.2, the programmes described are in addition subject to the mechanisms derived from the financial instrument they are financed from (see chapter 4.5).
There are indicators defined in the Youth Sector Development Plan 2021-2035 (Noortevaldkonna arengukava 2021-2035) for each of the strategic objectives, some of them with clear focus on social inclusion, like:
- The number of youth-led projects (including the ratio of funded projects) ;
- The satisfaction of young people with youth work services;
- Per cent of 15–26-year-olds who evaluate support as available;
- Ratio (%) of 15–29-year-olds not in education, employment or training (young people with NEET status*).
More specific indicators are the subject of operational programmes developed as follow up of the national youth strategy.