2.3 National strategy on youth volunteering
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Promoting volunteering activities is a a recurrent measure of youth policies especially because the NGOs that allow the development of volunteering are considered as both the “leaven of the social cohesion” and “major economic actors”*.
There is no strategy specifically dedicated to the (voluntary) commitment of young people. However, the government has put in place multiples reflexions on this subject over the last few years:
Thus, in 2018, a roadmap for the development of associative life, which includes measures relating to the development of commitment. aimed in particular to better value and recognise individual commitment
This roadmap consists of 15 measures, structured around three axes to promote the development of associative life.
Structural support and reinforced accompaniment of associations (adapted administrative arrangements, development of digital offers, allocation of unused public funding),
Enabling commitment through better recognition of lifelong commitment, in particular by creating certifications of skills and knowledge acquired during these phases of commitment, recognised on the labour market, extending the Citizen Commitment Account, evaluating and renovating commitment leave.
In 2021, the government supported the adoption of a bill in favour of associative commitment, aiming in particular to provide a framework for the responsibility of leaders and to encourage students to develop consciousness regarding associative activities.
Finally, for several years now, the Government has been devoting increased financial resources to strengthening civic service, which is one of the main institutional mechanisms for young people's commitment, and supports the generalisation of universal national service, a mechanism initiated by the Government involving a mission of general interest with various structures, including associations, for a minimum period of 84 hours.
The development of civic service
Civic service is an important instrument of youth engagement (volunteering) policies (for more information see 2.5). Since its implementation in 2010, this scheme, which allows young people to engage in missions of general interest, has continued to develop and gain visibility. In 2021, nearly 145,000 young people have completed a civic service mission.
The government is seeking to develop a culture of commitment, particularly among young people who will form the France of tomorrow.
The aim is to build a "society of commitment" which is constructed within a logic of civic commitment from the earliest age. It begins at school and involves all the teaching provided from school to high school, in particular moral and civic education.
This culture, which is fundamental to strengthening national cohesion and enhancing the value of the territories, is based in particular on all forms of commitment, including voluntary work in associations as well as civic service, civic reserve and the new universal national service.
Furthermore, all studies on volunteering and voluntary work show that commitment to the general interest reinforces the feeling of usefulness of the people involved and contributes to boosting their self-esteem. Volunteer work is also a source of diverse and varied skills and knowledge.
The government therefore intends to simplify the validation of acquired experience. Voluntary activity, which can be valued in the same way as professional activity, is not valued enough. The government will therefore develop tools to better recognise voluntary work in the professional sphere, and will make it even easier to gain voluntary experience by awarding diplomas and certificates to all.
In order to encourage and promote volunteer involvement throughout the country, the Secretary of State for the Social and Fair Economy and Volunteering has launched an eighteen-stage Tour de France of volunteerism in October 2022. It is intended to bring out the difficulties and proposals to address them, and to highlight good practices.
In addition, on 16 December 2022, the Secretary of State for the Social and Fair Economy and Volunteering initiated a conference on the simplification of associations, the aim of which is to co-construct a new roadmap consisting of concrete achievements in order to considerably simplify the administrative procedures of associations. This simplification approach is a priority area of work.
National (central) authority
The development of volunteering policies is carried out by the Ministry of Education and Youth and the State Secretariat for Social and Fair Economy and Volunteering.
Policies concerning volunteering are not necessarily developed by public authorities. The latter's priority role is to support, financially and through various initiatives, the actors of volunteering.
The situation is different for volunteering policies, which are supported, defined, managed and controlled by the State and various ministries.
The DJEPVA itself includes two sub-directorates responsible (among other things) for management of actions promoting bénévolat and volunteering:
- The Sub-directorate for Cross-Ministerial Youth and Voluntary Organisation Policies (sous-direction des politiques interministérielles de jeunesse et de vie associative)
It ensures the steering of actions carried out in the field of youth when they fall under the responsibility of several ministerial departments. It coordinates actions in favour of associative life, European and international mobility of young people, voluntary work and voluntary commitment and, in this respect, exercises strategic supervision of the agency responsible for civic service. In this capacity and in the field of volunteering and voluntary work:
- It ensures, in conjunction with the ministries concerned (finance, interior, labour, etc.), the development and monitoring of regulations relating to all associations,
- It draws up and monitors the government's policy on the development of associations and voluntary work,
- It ensures the strategic supervision of the civic service agency
- It acts as the national authority for the implementation of the "Youth" strand of the European "Erasmus +" programme entrusted to the "Erasmus + France Youth & Sport" Agency.
- It monitors the bi-governmental youth offices and participates in the definition and implementation of cooperation policies in the youth field.
- The Sub-directorate for Non-Formal Education (Sous-Direction de l’Education Populaire)
This department is responsible for promoting and monitoring popular education. It contributes to the development of educational practices and coordinates the network of decentralised services in the fields of youth, popular education and associative life.
Within the framework of the policies of voluntary work and volunteering, its role is among others to
- Ensure the validation of acquired experience and the development of economic sectors in the field of animation;
- to coordinate relations with national youth and popular education federations and associations, as well as the networks of correspondents in the decentralised services
- proposing to the minister the list of national associations likely to benefit from youth and popular education approval
- managing, negotiating and evaluating partnerships and agreements on objectives with national youth and popular education federations and associations;
- The Sub-directorate for the Universal national service (SNU)
This department manages the universal national service (SNU) scheme. It ensures the implementation and deployment of the scheme throughout the country in conjunction with the decentralised services. It coordinates the evaluation of the SNU with the National Institute for Youth and Popular Education (Injep).
Furthermore, as with other youth policies, implementation of youth policies on volunteering and bénévolat is based on partnership and cross-ministerial work. Other ministries contribute to the development of youth commitment, including the ministry of the Interior for firefighter volunteering and the Ministry of National Education and the ministry in charge of higher education which promotes youth commitment of young people through a range of schemes.
Among these ministries, the ministry in charge of foreign affairs plays an important coordinating role in implementation and management of international solidarity volunteering (VSI) and international administrative volunteering (VIA). It is responsible for issuing authorisations to organisations implementing volunteering missions (Law no.2005-159 of 23 February 2005 bearing on the contract for international solidarity volunteering, and as such works in close partnership with the DJEPVA.
Youth policies, including those promoting commitment, are also implemented by local authorities, which also contribute to the development of volunteering by promoting it through local structures such as local missions, youth information offices and points. The region plays a leading role in this process. In addition, some local authorities, in particular the regions and departments, have their own volunteering schemes.
The policy of promoting commitment remains a strong focus of youth policies, which has been given concrete form by the generalisation of the 'universal national service' commitment scheme (see 2.5), during which young people carry out voluntary activities, and by the strengthening of civic service, with 87 431 new missions by 2021.
The government has announced a target for growth in these annual figures. 1,000 new civic service missions in favour of the environment are also to be created in 2022-2023. This increase is explained by the Government's desire to promote the social scope of this scheme, which fosters social mixing and cohesion, as well as the acquisition of non-formal skills among young people, in a context where young people's access to the labour market is complicated by the effects of the health crisis. This increase is part of the Government's 1 young person 1 solution plan unveiled in July 2020.