5.10 Current debates and reforms
In Estonia currently, innovative forms of youth participation are sought including supported by e-services and technologies.
Smart youth work including youth work using the developments of the technology is a subject of high-priority in youth policy throughout the youth field development plan period until 2020 and now with the new period up to 2035 as well. See more about smart youth work in Chapter 10.4.
The main political debate is how to implement Youth Sector Development Plan 2021-2035 ambitions in the field on youth participation, e.g. how to:
- harness the potential of the youth in developing the state (inclusion in national defence, developing attitudes and providing participation opportunities in the areas of the environment, safety, security, integration, and so on);
- increase knowledge about the actual needs and circumstances of young people that serves as the prerequisite of youth participation via the youth sector monitoring and analysis system;
- provide young people with the prerequisites of developing the habits and skills for self-expression (including through the development of school democracy on all levels of education and enabling creative self-expression through hobby education for young people);
- provide opportunities to express one’s opinion by simple and convenient means (while also ensuring the representation of risk groups and young people living abroad and the participation of young people in the development of solutions supporting participation);
- give young people feedback about how their opinion was taken into account, showing the actual impact of their participation and thereby increasing their motivation to express their opinion;
- increase capacity for inclusion in ministries and local governments, for example by creating area-based solutions and responsibility networks for including young people and by training the decision-makers and officials;
- create 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.
- ensure young people have opportunities to partake in representative democracy in order to support growth in electoral turnout;
- support youth organizations and councils in including young people and ensuring the collection and dissemination of best inclusion practices;
- support youth initiatives on a local level;
- support youth participation and meaningful contribution to the community (including the management of NGOs and volunteer work).
As National elections happen in 2023, many youth field umbrella organizations came out with expectations towards politicians, and according to youth participation lowering of voting and candidating age in National and European Parliament elections arose.