2.2 Administration and governance of youth volunteering
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The competent institution responsible for volunteering is the Ministry of Welfare while the State Employment Agency, which is subordinated to the Ministry, is the main administrative body.
The Ministry of Education and Science, which is responsible for youth policy development in Latvia promotes youth volunteering by involving local authorities, municipalities, youth and non-profit organisations that are offering various participatory and leisure-time facilities for young people.
The Agency for International Programs for Youth is a state institution subordinated to the Ministry of Education and Science. It provides support to the Ministry in the implementation of youth policy, incl. youth volunteering, The Agency, which since 1999 is a National Agency administrating the EU programmes for youth (including the Erasmus+: Youth in Action and European Solidarity Corps programs), has long-term experience and knowledge in the administration of European youth volunteering projects.
One of the important ways of supporting volunteering is cross-sectoral cooperation between the state institutions, local municipalities and NGOs.
In 2020, the State Employment Agency implemented a measure “Development of Work Skills” aimed at young unemployed people aged 18 to 29. Within the measure various voluntary work opportunities were provided for young unemployed people, they could participate in activities organised by associations and foundations. Those young unemployed people who are enrolled in full-time higher education programmes could voluntarily participate in research and academic activities of higher education institutions. The common feature of all voluntary activities carried out within the measure is the benefit provided to the society.
There are different grant programmes implemented in a number of local authorities and municipalities. The programmes offer organisations funding opportunities for the projects tackling issues relevant to the particular municipality or local authority. Taking into account that the non-governmental sector is a very important actor in the volunteering system, grant support provided to these organisations is of utmost importance to enable the development of volunteering. Due to municipality budget cuts, the number of financial allocations to grant programmes for non-governmental organisations has significantly decreased,
Taking into account the knowledge of non-governmental organisations related to the implementation of voluntary activities, incl. European voluntary projects, there are municipalities that delegate their volunteering function to organisations to reinforce the development of the volunteering system within the municipality.
Many local authorities are practicing the yearly Welcoming of volunteers, which is organized on 5th December – on the International Volunteer Day.
Honouring of the volunteers and organisations, which ensure voluntary work availability, plays a significant role in the broadening of understanding of the importance of volunteering as well as motivates people to engage in voluntary activities developed for the sake of society.
Municipal youth affairs specialists who are responsible for the development and implementation of youth policy at the municipal level play a significant role in the development of the youth volunteering system there. Youth affairs specialists work closely with organisations hosting volunteers in order to improve the quality of activities in terms of attractiveness thus ensuring the involvement of a bigger number of young people in voluntary activities.