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Measures and programmes aimed at young people are framed in the Programme of each Constitutional Government. The current XXII Constitutional Government (2019-2023) defines youth policies in accordance with its Programme and the Major Planning Options (2020-2023), also framed in the European goals and guidelines, under the context of Europe 2030 and the European Youth Strategy.
Portugal has three levels of governance: central, regional (Autonomous Region of the Azores and Autonomous Region of Madeira) and local (municipalities and civil parishes).
In Continental Portugal, Youth governance has a centralized structure. The Secretary of State for Youth and Sport is the member of the Government responsible for this field, which is part of the government area of Education (Ministry of Education) since 2015. Previously, the sector was under the supervision of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers, which was responsible for the Secretariat of State for Youth and Sport.
Top level authority responsible for youth policy
The mission of the Ministry of Education is to conceive, conduct, implement and assess the national policy on the educational and vocational training system and on youth and sport. The Secretary of State for Youth and Sport has the responsibility to define a youth policy in Portugal, in close cooperation with the Ministry of Education. As can be seen in the chart below, youth policy’s development is made through a series of instances and organic units whose mission is to implement the guidelines, projects and programmes, these being the most relevant instruments of action.
In short, at the central level, the youth policy is designed by the Secretariat of State, and then it is primarily implemented and assessed by the Portuguese Institute for Youth and Sport (IPDJ, I.P.).
In this context, we can emphasize the operational and executive role developed by the Portuguese Institute for Sport and Youth – IPDJ, I.P. Its mission is to implement an integrated and decentralized policy for sports and youth, in close collaboration with public and private entities, in particular with sports organisations, youth associations, student associations and local municipalities, favouring multi-level, shared and engaged governance practices.
Thus, the formulation and implementation of youth public policies are made through a structured dialogue with young people, specifically through representative platforms, such as National Youth Council - CNJ, the National Federation of Youth Associations – FNAJ, as well as through specific spaces for this purpose such as Youth Advisory Councils. Their role in defining youth policies is an advisory one, and sometimes an executive one, influencing its conception and implementation, as it is the case of youth mobility policies. For example, through the presence of CNJ (10%) and FNAJ (10%) in the share capital of Movijovem and their participation, in equal number, in its Strategic Council (a body that supports the decision-making in Movijovem).
Movijovem is a cooperative society responsible for the national network of youth hostels and the youth card's management. The IPDJ holds 80% of Movijovem's share capital and the remaining 20%, under the Government's instruction, were opened to the participation of the FNAJ and the CNJ, ensuring that the civil society in the youth sector is directly involved in the decision-making processes of the body responsible for the field of youth mobility in Portugal.
Young people and their representative structures are seen as partners in the implementation of various measures and activities.
At a regional level, the Autonomous Regions of Azores and Madeira have autonomy for the development, implementation and administration of youth policies, both having a regional directorate. In Azores there is a Regional Directorate for Youth whose mission is the conception, implementation and assessment of youth policy. In Madeira there is a Regional Directorate of Youth and Sports, under the tutelage of the Regional Secretariat of Education.
Other Institutional Actors involved in Youth Policy
Considering the transversal characteristic of youth public policies, this field of intervention is developed based on the cooperation between several public and private actors, also according to the implemented projects and programmes, in particular the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Labour, Solidarity and Social Security and the Ministry of the Environment.
These ministries’ mission is defined in the Organic Law of Government (Decree-Law no. 169-B/2019, of 3rd December) and it includes “conceiving, conducting, implementing and assessing each sector’s policies”. Each one of these ministries has executive bodies to implement their policies, such as the General Directorate of Health, the Institute of Employment and Vocational Training, the Portuguese Agency of Environment , that cooperate with the youth sector.
At the local level the cooperation is made with municipalities and third sector entities, with special emphasis on youth associative movement.
The Portuguese Parliament has specialised committees, such as the Committee on Culture, Communication, Youth and Sports, that began its activity in the 12th November, 2015. Among other responsibilities in the Youth field, this Committee is responsible for youth policies and it should maintain a dialogue and relate its work to the other specialised committees.
Ultimately, however, the conceptual basis to intervene in the youth sector is based on the Constitution of the Portuguese Republic which provides, in article 70th “Youth”, the general framework for all youth policies.
The priorities of youth policies should be:
- the development of young people’s personality,
- the creation of the conditions needed for their effective integration into the active life,
- the love for free creativity;
- the sense of community service.
The National Youth Plan, as an instrument at the service of youth policies’ interministerial articulation, guides the designing, execution and assessment of measures in strategic areas: Formal and Non-Formal Education; Employment; Health; Housing; Environment and Sustainable Development; Equality and Social Inclusion and Governance and Participation.
The definition of the strategic areas was the result of a wide listening process made to the young people and the main players of the sector (namely youth organisations, association leaders, youth technicians, academies, and municipalities).
In relation to political fields specified by the European Union, the national public policy develops a series of programmes and projects converging with European objectives through the institute IPDJ or partners. We can point out some examples:
Employment and entrepreneurship
The Empreende Já - RPGN Programme was created through the Administrative Decree no. 308/2015, of 25 September and regulated through the Regulation no. 1022/2016, of 10 November, as amended by the Regulation no. 467-A/2017, of 25 August. It is intended to stimulate an entrepreneurial culture, focused on creativity and innovation and to support the creation and development of companies and social economy entities, as well as the creation of jobs by and for young people.
Action 1: Support for the development of projects for the creation of enterprises and social economy entities, based on their own ideas or made available through the business promotion network;
Action 2: Support for the sustainability of entities and jobs created under the Programme, resulting from projects developed in Action 1.
The “Encouraging Associative Development” Programme (Programa IDA – Incentivo ao Desenvolvimento Associativo) is directed at youth associations and federations which have an approved application for the Internship and Employment Programme carried out by the Employment and Vocational Training Institute (IEFP).
Education and Training
The Formar+ Programme (Programa Formar+) consists of training and financial support to leaders of youth associations registered in RNAJ, also providing training directed at youth workers and at young people or members of associations.
Participation and Citizenship
The “Youth Parliament” Programme (Parlamento dos Jovens) aims to stimulate young people’s interest in civic and political participation.
“EuroSchool” Contest (Euroscola) promotes the selection of schools that can participate in Strasbourg’s EuroSchool.
Health and Well-Being
The “Take Care of Yourself” Program (CUIDA-TE) aims the promotion of youth health and healthy lifestyles.
The Agora Nós programme aims to promote and stimulate the practice of volunteering, as a means of acquiring skills. Within this program there are the following programs: Long Term Action of Young Generation Z Volunteering; Long Term Action of Young 70 Já Volunteering; Long Term Action of Young Volunteering Dating with Fair Play.
There is also the Youth Volunteering for Nature and Forests programme outside the Agora Nós programme.
Creativity and Culture
The Young Artists Programme (Programa Jovens Criadores) intends to create promotion opportunities for the work of the country’s young creators, who usually don't have access to cultural circuits, by stimulating and supporting the initiative, creativity and innovation of young nationals. It is comprised of two initiatives: Young Creators Competition and National Showcase of Young Creators.
The devising of youth policies is based on structured dialogue procedures with the platforms representing young people (National Youth Council, National Federation of Youth Organisations) and also public hearing procedures.
For specific projects, similar procedures are developed or mission groups are composed, including young people, technicians and decision-makers, for example, but regular spaces for hearing are also availed, such as the Advisory Council of the Secretariat of State for Youth and Sports or the municipal advisory councils.
Youth public policy also uses public studies on youth affairs and collaborates regularly with researchers or with the Permanent Youth Observatory, located at the Institute of Social Sciences of the University of Lisbon (ICS).
The Portuguese Institute of Sports and Youth – IPDJ, I.P. was created in 2012 resulting from the merger between public institutes related to the youth and sports sectors. Its mission is to implement an integrated and decentralized policy for sports and youth, in close collaboration with public and private entities, in particular with sports organisations, youth associations, student associations and local municipalities. IPDJ is under the responsibility of the Secretariat of State for Youth and Spors which reports to the Ministry of Education.
Specific assignments of this institute concerning the youth sector include:
- Supporting the formulation of public youth policies, particularly by adopting measures to stimulate civic participation of young people in social, economic, cultural and educational activities;
- Monitoring the implementation of public youth policies;
- Helping youth associative life, according to the law, continuously updating the National Register of Youth Associations (RNAJ);
- Providing technical and financial support to the programmes developed under the Youth Associationism Law;
- Promoting the implementation of programmes intended to meet the needs and specificities of the youth universe, particularly in the following fields: leisure activities, voluntary work, associationism, non-formal education and training;
- Promoting and implementing mechanisms to encourage and support initiative and the entrepreneurial spirit of young people;
- Promoting awareness-raising and counselling activities, specifically in health, risk behaviour, child protection and environment fields, in order to ensure the personal fulfilment and well-being of young people;
- Supporting youth mobility, by promoting the construction of housing infrastructures, particularly by stimulating the national youth hostels network, according to geographical and demographic rationality criteria and economical efficiency criteria;
- Encouraging youth exchanges and promoting the participation and integration in community and international organisations, as well as in projects of cooperation and social and economic development;
- Promoting the creation of partnerships with regional, national or international entities, public or private, in order to implement youth policies.
Within the context of its responsibilities, the IPDJ, I.P., can establish cooperation ties with other public, private, national or foreign entities, although this cooperation does not involve delegation or sharing of responsibilities and competencies.
In Portugal, the policies and programmes are usually evaluated and monitored on a regular basis, based on the evaluation data collected at the end of the projects, considering not only the data produced by the participants but also by the promoters. This is a comprehensive, annual evaluation that takes into account not only the pre-defined physical and financial performance indicators, but also the results of the consulting process carried out with the participants and the promoters/partners.
On the other hand, the IPDJ promotes regular project monitoring visits and audits, to ensure that these projects’ implementation meets the programmatic objectives and the initial proposal.
Moreover, the regular meetings of the various levels of the advisory body (the IPDJ Advisory Board and the Youth Advisory Council, chaired by the Secretary of State for Youth and Sports) are used to hear partners on the same matters.
The IPDJ and the Secretariat of State for Youth and Sports take an active and leading role in the regular visits to the regions, to establish a direct contact with young people, youth associations and local authorities (Youth Itinerary), in order to provide a direct and on-site evaluation of the offers provided by the Government and the concerns, needs and interests of young people of the region and nationwide.
These interventions, with particular reference to the advisory bodies, allow not only to correct inequalities regarding the contents, but also regarding the resources allocated to each programme.
Lastly, a reference must be made to the monitoring and evaluation of the top political level, whose main exponent is the Assembly of the Republic. In this context, the monitoring and evaluation of youth policies mainly takes place in the Commission of Culture, Communication, Youth and Sports, where the parliament groups are represented. This commission is permanent and specialised in the subject it focuses on, having jurisdiction over said subject. Like the other permanent commissions, this commission can create sub-commissions to monitor specific issues and temporary work groups.