4.7 Youth work to foster social inclusion
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The Department of Youth Affairs (from 2021 – Agency of Youth Affairs), developing open work with youth in Lithuania and aspiring after clarity in this field, i.e. wishing to better define open work with youth, in 2010 worked out a “Conception of open youth centers and spaces”. The Conception defines the objectives, tasks, target groups, principles, contractors, and quality requirements of forms of open work with youth. One of the key objectives of the Conception is to establish open youth centers and open spaces as institutional forms of open work with youth, aspiring to encourage young people with a fewer possibilities to engage in meaningful activities, thereby pursuing the diversity and quality of work with youth related services, accessibility for as wide circle of young people as possible, as well as rational use of financial and human resources. The following terms were defined while working out this Conception:
Youth worker is a grown-up person, who has reached the age of 21, acting out of bounds of formal education and training system, family and work activities, aspiring after personal and social improvement of young people through both individual work with individual persons and working with groups or communities, as well as having professional competences for such work. A youth worker is entitled to remuneration for professional work. Professional attitude of youth worker consists of personal guidelines and viewpoint, development and maintenance of relationship, methodical, applicable, as well as structural competences. A youth worker should have an education in pedagogy, psychology, or social science, or should have in such other way acquired competences relevant to social work with youth.
Open work with youth is a work with youth form – the entirety of educational activities and suggestions, having specific principles of operation; it is open for all young people, living in a particular territory, irrespective of their social status; able of attracting youth with a fewer possibilities to be involved in other activities that are available or not available in their environment.
Open youth center is an institution that performs open work with youth and follows the principles thereof, the founders whereof may be municipalities, non-governmental organizations, local or religious communities (may establish individually or jointly) in accordance with the legal forms, provided in Article 2 of the Law on Youth Policy Framework. An open youth center characterizes for having more than one premise (space) for various youth activities.
Open space is a space or premise, intended and accommodated for performance of open work with youth, i.e. could be situated in the institution (cultural, educational, sports, or social) without changing legal status of institution and accommodated for open work with youth applying the available measure or methodical base.
The Youth Policy Framework Law regulates the activities of Open Youth Centers. Objectives of open youth centers and open youth spaces:
1) create conditions for young people to participate in the activities of the open youth center and open youth space, especially with the aim of including young people with fewer opportunities and inactive young people;
2) ensure that the activities organized in open youth centers and open youth spaces meet the needs of young people and contribute to the development of a young person's personality and the development of personal and social competences;
3) create conditions so that young people are motivated to participate in activities that meet their interests, are encouraged to improve, develop entrepreneurship and the skills needed for the labor market. (Article 8, paragraph 3 from the Law on the Basics of Youth Policy)
The search for open youth centers and spaces is here: https://jra.lt/jaunimui/suzinok-daugiau/su-jaunimu-dirbantys/atviri-jaunimo-centrai/jaunimo-centru-paieska.
Such open youth center and / or space: functions in a particular social environment and aspires that young people, living in such environment and territory, had a place to spend there free time – came to the center; enables youth to meet and socialize with friends, play games, listen to the music, or just be together, does not demand regular visits or any kind of obligations, except compliance with regulations that are mandatory for all visitors; suggests, but not demands, attending various clusters that are framed according to the whishes of young people (computer, DJ, breakdancing, etc.), projects, campaigns; has skilled youth workers, who are ready to speak to youngsters about their problems, consult if they need more serious assistance, orient, and mediate. The same employees assist young people in framing the ideas, encourage and help implement the same, help discussing the experience acquired; keeps in touch and cooperates with the institutions, operating in that residential territory and connected to youth affairs, such as: school, parish, police, youth organization, eldership or community, library, etc. Also aims at socializing with the families of youngsters: send information, organize campaigns, festivals; finances its activities from the funds of local authorities, target programs, sponsors, and own funds as well.
1. KarjerON (start 07/01/2023, end 06/30/2026)
• The aim of the project is to increase the opportunities of unemployed 18-29-year-olds, especially those with limited and average employment opportunities, unskilled, long-term migrants, registered at the Employment Service under the Ministry of Social Security and Labor of the Republic of Lithuania, to get a job or return to the labor market.
• During the implementation of the Project, the aim will be to provide the youth with optimal assistance in integrating into the labor market, organizing vocational training, employment under an apprenticeship contract (only in accordance with formal and informal vocational training programs), internships, recognition of competences acquired through informal education and self-education, informal adult education , support for mobility, subsidized employment and implementation measures of local employment initiative projects. 18,969 non-unique participants will participate in active labor market policy measures.
2. Next stop - work (start 07/01/2023, end 06/30/2026)
One of the goals of the project is to increase the opportunities for young people who are not working or studying to return to the labor market.
During the implementation of the "Next stop - job" project, the aim will be to provide the unemployed with optimal assistance in integrating into the labor market, organizing vocational training, employment under an apprenticeship contract (only in accordance with formal and informal vocational training programs), internships, non-formal education and recognition of competences acquired through self-education. , non-formal adult education, support for mobility, subsidized employment and implementation measures of local employment initiative projects. 42,495 non-unique project participants will participate in active labor market policy measures.
In the second half of 2023, the Youth Affairs Agency (hereinafter - the Agency) announced and is implementing the Social Mobilization Development Program Progress Measure No. 09-003-02-02-05 of the Ministry of Social Security and Labor of the Republic of Lithuania, the manager of the 2021-2030 development program the selection of partners for the implementation of the system of effective work with youth" (hereinafter - the Measure).
The purpose of the measure is to reduce the number of inactive young people (hereinafter referred to as NEETs), by working purposefully with young people with fewer opportunities (potential NEETs) and young people in the NEET group, consistently implementing intervention measures (to help young people return to the labor market and/or the education system). and ensuring the implementation of preventive measures that meet the needs of specific young people.
- Youth with fewer opportunities (MGT) - youth who do not have the same conditions as their peers to develop their competences and activities, because they live in unfavorable conditions or experience social, economic, educational, cultural, geographical difficulties, have a disability and/or health problems.
- Inactive young people (NEET) - a young person who is not learning, not studying, not working under an employment contract or independently, not having other legal relationships equivalent to employment, not performing unpaid employment activities, not looking for work (From this Law).
Many organizations and institutions with various similar names (eg youth center, youth club, open youth center, mobile youth center, etc.) offer various activities for young people. Following the principle of subsidiarity, priority is given to non-governmental organizations and religious communities to organize open work with young people. Local authorities are active where such organizations do not want to undertake such activities or do not have the appropriate competence, organizing open work with young people through their institutions. One of the main institutional forms of open work is the so-called open youth centers/spaces (open youth center, open youth spaces). Local authorities, implementing the youth policy, aim to develop and maintain an open network of work with youth (youth centers and spaces), which would be equally developed in separate residential areas, social environment, and not only concentrated in the city center or district, i.e. to make this form of youth work accessible to young people in their living environment.
Youth job centers under the Employment Service provide youth employment inclusion programs and statistics are published here.
In 2023, the following training was held for youth workers: "Prepare, Pay Attention, Get Involved!"
These trainings are intended for youth workers: coordinators of the European Solidarity Corps (SO, PO), mentors and youth exchange facilitators, group leaders, which allow to deepen competences in working with those with less opportunities (MGT). Costs are reimbursed by www.jra.lt.
In 2013, a Manual for working with youth groups (informal education practice in Lithuania) was prepared, which is useful for improving the skills of working with youth.
In 2015 Department of Youth Affairs was allocated EUR 65000 to implement „Discover Youself“ project uder the Youth Employment Initiative. In 2016 Department of Youih Affairs was allocated EUR 218000 to implement „Discover Youself“ project uder the Youth Employment Initiative. In 2016 Lithuanian Labour Exchange was allocated EUR 1100740 to implement „Discover Youself“ project under the Youth Employment Initiative.
The funding allocated to the KarjerON (start 07/01/2023, end 06/30/2026) program for the years 2023-2026 is EUR 54,505,924.
Mechanisms for monitoring and ensuring the quality of the implementation of inclusive work with youth have existed since 2014. Youth workers are now recognized as qualified specialists, and work with youth has become standardized and professionalized throughout Lithuania. The methodology for assessing the quality of youth policy in municipalities was approved by the Ministry of Social Security and Labor in 2008. This methodology includes general quality criteria for youth work. The same document also approved the description of the quality assessment of youth policy in municipalities, which defines the purpose of quality assessment - to achieve the maximum efficiency of programs and measures implemented by the state and municipalities in the field of youth policy, the harmonious development of youth policy in all municipalities of the Republic of Lithuania, aimed at solving issues relevant to young people, continuously improve institutional capacity. Point 3 states that the tasks of quality assessment are:
1. to collect data on the state of youth policy in municipalities, various programs and measures for young people are implemented in them;
2. find out the advantages and disadvantages of the municipal youth policy;
3. encourage the institutions and bodies forming and implementing the youth policy in the municipality, youth and youth organizations to agree on the priorities for the development of the municipal youth policy;
4. discuss examples of good practice and disseminate them.
Agency for Youth Affair (JRA) is responsible for quality assessment (Overview of the implementation of the youth policy in 2022).
A certification system for youth workers has been created in Lithuania, which is an important tool for ensuring the quality of work with youth. A new youth work certification system has been introduced to formally recognize the value of youth work as a public service and youth workers as qualified professionals who implement policy. The aim of the youth worker certification system was to create and maintain quality work with young people in order to facilitate their personal and social growth, and to ensure effective cooperation between experts from public institutions and non-governmental organizations. It created a unified list of competencies that can be applied to all professionals working with young people, regardless of the sector they belong to. It gives youth workers the opportunity to acquire, develop and recognize their competences and skills and further develop their knowledge of various aspects of youth work.
On May 31, 2023, the Description of the procedure for the certification of youth workers was approved, the purpose of which is to ensure that work with young people is carried out by employees who have acquired the necessary competences and have been assessed according to the procedure established by this description. The Youth Workers Certification Commission is made up of two employees of the Youth Affairs Agency, two representatives of the Lithuanian Youth Workers Association, two representatives of the Working with Youth Council under the Youth Affairs Agency, two representatives of the Association of Lithuanian Open Youth Centers and one representative of the National Association of Youth Affairs Coordinators. The Commission submits an advisory proposal to the Director of the Youth Affairs Agency regarding the issuance of the certificate.