1.4 Youth policy decision-making
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The Ministry of Education and Culture is the responsible authority for the overall development, coordination and drafting of national development plans on youth issues in the central government. The work is carried out by the Division of Youth Work and Youth Policy of the Department for Youth and Sport Policy in the Ministry.
When planning and developing the national youth policy the work is done in a close cooperation with several actors. These include such actors as other ministries, Regional State Administrative Agencies (see: the Glossary), other state agencies, municipalities (see: the Glossary), and youth organisations that have a significant role in the field of Finnish youth work and youth policy.
The National Youth Work and Youth Policy Programme, prepared by the Ministry of Education and Culture, is the central document that provides the national objectives and guidelines for youth policy that the Government adopts every four years. The Education and Culture Committee is the parliamentary commission that is in charge of most of the youth issues.
Major roles and tasks of the institutional actors involved in youth policy making
- The Regional State Administrative Agencies are responsible for the regional implementation of the Ministry of Education and Culture in the field of education, day care, libraries, sports, and youth work (see: the Glossary). The Ministry exercises result-based management and provides the resources for the Regional State Administrative Agencies. Their tasks include e.g. assessing the accessibility of basic services and producing information on impact of local and regional youth work and youth policy. Additionally, the agencies distribute discretionary government transfers to youth workshops, outreach youth work, local hobby activities of children and young people, and local and regional projects in the field of youth. The six regional state administrative agencies are: Southern Finland, Eastern Finland, Southwestern Finland, Western and Inland Finland, Northern Finland, and Lapland.
- Municipalities in Finland exercise significant autonomy (see: the Glossary). The municipality has responsibility on how the youth policy and youth work is implemented in the local level. The municipal youth work services include e.g. information and counselling services, youth facilities and hobby opportunities, sports, cultural and multicultural youth activities, outreach youth work and youth workshops. At the local level, municipalities can allocate resources as they see fit, but they should evaluate the service with young people on a regular basis – also the government assesses municipal youth work as a basic service, in practice those assessments are carried out by the Regional State Administrative Agencies (see more about the assessment process in Youth Wiki/Finland 10.4 Quality and innovation in youth work). The municipalities have a central role in youth work in Finland; there are around 3 400 youth work professionals in the municipalities.
- The expert bodies assisting the Ministry of Education and Culture in matters of youth affairs are the State Youth Council and Assessment and State Aid Commission of which the roles and tasks are defined in the Youth Act. The former has an expertise on youth work and youth policy, whereas the latter is an expert body on state subsidies. The State Aid Commission makes a proposal on the distribution of state aid to national youth work organisations and national youth work centres of expertise. Both bodies are attached to the Ministry of Education and Culture.
- Ministries. Youth policy influences young people over administrative borders, as youth policy is cross-sectorial several ministries are responsible for policy areas concerning young people. These ministries include e.g. the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, Ministry of Justice, and Ministry for Foreign Affairs.
- An other important national public agency involved in youth policy implementation is the Finnish National Agency for Education. The agency functions under the Ministry of Education and Culture. The organisation and tasks are set out in the legislation. It is responsible for the development of early childhood education and care, pre-primary, basic, general upper secondary, vocational upper secondary, adult education as well as for international mobility and cross-border co-operation. The latter includes the coordination and managing of scholarships and exchange programmes, including nearly all education, cultural, youth and sport programmes of the EU in Finland. Also, information and statistics on international mobility are provided.
- Youth work centres of expertise form a network that support the implementation of the objectives set out by the National Youth Work and Youth Policy Programme. In 2020, six youth work centres were accepted by the ministry for the next four years. 1. The city of Lahti is leading the consortium for municipal youth work called Kanuuna (see descriptions of each centre of expertise below), 2. the Guides and Scouts of Finland for youth organisations, 3. the Youth Academy for youth participation, 4. 'Into – Association for Outreach Youth Work and Workshop Activities' for targeted youth work, 5. the City of Helsinki for digital youth work and 6. the South-Eastern University of Applied Sciences for the youth work in schools and educational institutions.
- Centre of Expertise for Municipal Youth Work Kanuuna (Cannon)advocates for municipal youth work and serves youth workers throughout the country. As a centre of expertise, Kanuuna’s objective is to strengthen expertise and cooperation in the field, increase awareness of the work and the production of information, as well as develop and model quality assessment of municipal youth work.
- The Youth Work Centre of Expertise Kentauri studies the outcomes of young people’s free-time hobbies and NGO activities, develops NGOs’ data production related to youth work, develops the NGOs’ impact assessment, investigates the effects of the changing operating environments of youth NGO activities and improves the identification and recognition of young people’s competence.
- The Youth Work Centre of Expertise lead by the Youth Academy, see in Finnish Osaamiskeskus.
- The Youth Work Centre of Expertise lead by the 'Into – Association for Outreach Youth Work and Workshop Activities.'
- Verke is the national Centre of Expertise for Digital Youth Work in Finland. Verke’s vision is to provide everyone who works with young people with the opportunity to use digital media and technology as part of their work.
- The Center of Expertice Nuoska develops youth work models at schools and educational institutes regionally and nationwide.
The central document that provides guidelines and national objectives for national youth policy is the National Youth Work and Youth Policy Programme that the Ministry of Education and Culture prepares and the government adopts every four years (see more Youth Wiki/Finland 1.3 National Youth Strategy).
There is no single national agency for youth in Finland. Several ministries and branches of administration, each having its own focus and themes, are responsible for youth issues, managing youth related programmes, and disseminating information on youth issues. Also, the role of the youth work centres of expertise, the national youth organisations, national youth work service organisations, and national youth work organisations is significant.
The Ministry of Education and Culture’s youth work and youth policy division produces youth policy documents and information, as well as supports financially municipalities, national youth centres, youth organisations, and other actors operating in the field of youth work. Since 2017, certain organisations have been appointed as national centres of expertise in the field of youth work. These organisations are responsible for developing youth work and youth policy within the purview of their specific areas of expertise. The Ministry of Education and Culture agrees on guidelines for the work in annually held negotiations with these organisations. Due to the parliament elections on April 2023, a new National Youth Work and Youth Policy Programme will come in force in 2024 possibly meaning a new combination of organisations will be named as centres of expertise for the next period of the programme.
The Ministry of Justice, in cooperation with relevant other actors, organises events and produces material for young people that provides relevant information for them e.g. on participation and voting. The Ombudsman for Children, which is an autonomous and independent authority operating under the Ministry of Justice, promotes the rights and welfare of children and young people. It also monitors and reports annually to the government on the welfare and living conditions of children and young people, and the implementation of their rights. It also reports to Parliament every four years.
The Ministry for Foreign Affairs facilitates the development communications and global education carried out by civil society organisations. An independent and autonomous Non-Discrimination Ombudsman, operating also under the Ministry of Justice, promotes equality and prevents discrimination based e.g. on age, ethnic or national origin, or family connections.
As mentioned on the web pages of the Ministry of Education and Culture, ‘the Youth Act defines that the State Youth Council address broad issues of fundamental importance to young people and assess the impact of the measures taken by government on the young people and the services and activities intended for them. A key aspect of the workings of the State Youth Council is to carry out evidence-based assessments of young people’s growth and living conditions and generate up-to-date information on young people and their living conditions.’ These evaluation activities of the State Youth Council are described in Youth Wiki Finland 1.6 Evidence-based youth policy. The State Budget formulated by the Ministry of Finance (draft) (available in Finnish) mentions some indicators which are composed as results of those evaluations. These are used as steering force in the process of planning the budget. Such elements include the degree of participation in non-governmental associations, sense of societal belonging, a sense of control over one’s life, a lack of close friends, lack of hobbies due to economic reasons, feelings of discrimination, and a sense of optimism with regards to one’s future.