Youth - depending on the definition and context, in Poland there are several definitions of youth: it is a notion that initially included people aged 15-25. However, as a result of the implementation of new youth programmes, the upper age limit has now been raised from 25 to 29. Social policy programmes consider youth as people aged from 13 to 30. The lower age limit coincides with the time when children become “active participants shaping their environment by their own actions” and finish a certain stage of education when “they make important choices regarding their further education”. The upper age limit is defined as the stage of becoming self-sufficient and setting up a household. However, under the Ombudsman for Children Act (Ustawa o Rzeczniku Praw Dziecka), “any human being is a child from conception to the age of majority”, but “reaching the age of majority is regulated by separate provisions”. In accordance with the above Act, the notion of “youth” could refer to people who have reached the age of majority and therefore, have turned 18 or 16. It is also accepted that “young people” are those under 34 years old as it is difficult to pinpoint the age of passing from youth to maturity. The report “Youth 2011” describing young people’s situation in Poland applied the term “youth” to the age group of 15-29. It is this age range that is most frequently indicated when defining the notion of “youth”.
Career guidance at Voluntary Labour Corps (Ochotnicze Hufce Pracy) - Voluntary Labour Corps (OHP) are government-financed entities supervised by the Minister of Family, Labour and Social Policy The target audience of the actions undertaken by OHP are:
- Minors (aged 15 to 17) from educationally malfunctioning backgrounds who are not fulfilling their schooling and educational obligations, have problems with graduating, and need to acquire vocational qualifications.
- Persons aged 18 to 25, including those who are looking for a job or want to be retrained, unemployed, school graduates, and students.
OHP, as labour market institutions, provide free services to young people, including job placement and career guidance and information services; conduct workshops on active job searching; organise training; and implement labour market schemes (e.g. under the Youth Guarantee Initiative).
Compulsory education in Poland is divided into:
- one-year compulsory pre-school preparation;
- full-time compulsory education(obligation to attend school) which starts at the beginning of the school year in the calendar year when the child reaches the age of 7 and lasts until the completion of education in the primary school (szkoła podstawowa) (until the completion of lower secondary education in the transition period) but not beyond the age of 18;
- part-time compulsory education until the age of 18 which young people may receive, in particular, in a post-primary school (or until completion of education in the lower secondary school in the transition period) or as part of vocational training at an employer’s organisation.
National Youth Law - Polish youth policy has no systemic solutions, nor is it operated and coordinated in a consistent way. Therefore, it is impossible to indicate one official document focussing on the needs and rights of young people and regulating issues relating to them (“Youth Law”). However, this does not mean that Polish legislation does not cover young people’s lives, rights and duties. Youth-related regulations are provided in various legal acts, such as the Constitution of the Republic of Poland, Family and Guardianship Code, Labour Code, Juvenile Proceedings Act, Education Law, Act on Higher Education, Post-graduate Placements Act or the Associations Act. For more information please see the chapter 1 Youth Policy Governance.
National Youth Strategy - the “State Strategy for Youth for 2003-2012” (Strategia Państwa dla Młodzieży na lata 2003-2012) (Strategy) prepared before Poland’s accession to the EU remains the only document determining the development and directions of Polish youth policy. Currently, there is no strategy in Poland directly relating to young people. The Strategy emphasises the links that exist between youth policy and legal regulations concerning education, social welfare, national defence, employment and combating unemployment, children’s living conditions in families, healthcare, as well as prevention of crime, drug addiction and alcohol abuse.
Student Career Centres (Akademickie Biura Karier) - Student Career Centres are entities whose mission is the professional activation of students and graduates of higher education, run by a higher education institution or a student organisation, whose duties include:
- providing students and graduates with information on the labour market and opportunities for improving professional qualifications,
- collection, classification and dissemination of job, internship and work placement offers,
- maintaining a database of students and higher education institution graduates interested in finding a job,
- assisting employers in obtaining suitable candidates for job vacancies and internships,
- helping with active job seeking.
In 2014, it was estimated that 346 Student Career Centres were in operation at 442 Polish higher education institutions. However, it should be emphasised that this is an indicative figure only.
Volunteering - deliberate, voluntary activity that goes beyond the ties of family, friends and colleagues” and, as a consequence, a volunteer is “any natural person who out of their own free will, voluntarily and for no fee provides services to organisations, institutions or individuals that go beyond the ties of family and friends”
Youth Parliament - There is no bona fide children and youth parliament in Poland operating as an institution elected by general election and thus possessing democratic legitimacy. The Children and Youth Parliament (Sejm Dzieci i Młodzieży) is a representative institution in name only. In reality, this is an educational project of the Polish Parliament Chancellery and is not an element of the legal system. Its nature is purely didactic, consultative and opinion-forming. In addition to the Polish Parliament Chancellery, the Ministry of National Education and several other entities, including non-governmental entities, participate in its organisation.
Youth worker - Youth worker supports, initiates and organizes free-time activities for young people who are at risk of addictions, crime, aggression, prostitution, missing parental care; she/he conducts workshops and activities in youth clubs, institutions of formal and non-formal education or on the streets; she/he collaborates with schools and local communities; she/he organizes support and help from social services and health.