10. Youth work
10.3 Support to youth work
Last update: 28 November 2023
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The National Youth Strategy (2023-2025) is the main public policy document in the field of youth in the Republic of Serbia which recognises youth work in the context of non-formal education, where recognition of competences acquired through youth work is underlined as essential for young people. One of the specific strategic goals is “Improved quality and availability of youth work and ensured recognition of youth work”. This goal further implies:
- Improved quality of youth work programmes and capacity of youth work service providers;
- Provided identification and recognition of youth work as service that contributes to the improvement of youth situation.
The strategy evaluation for the implementation period 2015-2017 indicate most of the activities with both expected results were realized in the observed period.
Youth activities organised by and for young people, based on non-formal education, carried out in young people’s free time and undertaken with the aim of improving the conditions for personal and social development of young people, in accordance with their needs and abilities, in which young people voluntarily participate are considered as youth work as defined in the Law on Youth (2011).
Guidelines for quality assurance of youth work developed by The National Association of Youth Workers (NAPOR) offers a list of types of activities that are considered as youth work divided according to:
The topics they deal with:
- Political awareness and active citizenship - youth participation, rights and equality, policy and education development, social actions, activism, etc;
- Health education - promotion of healthy lifestyles, relationships and sexuality, stress management, mental health, HIV / AIDS, first aid, alcohol, smoking, etc;
- Prevention of social exclusion - youth work aimed at preventing social exclusion, including education, training and employment opportunities for marginalized groups and individuals. Social integration, transition to adulthood and the labour market are supported.
- Life skills (social education) - programs are both experiential and educational carried out through individual, group work, projects or events that contain aspects of primary prevention but also problem intervention. They are focused on identity development, values, emotion management, leadership, teamwork, planning and decision making, communication, problem solving, initiative and responsibility, professional development and orientation, etc.
- Intercultural and international awareness - professionally guided activities that enable young people from different countries, different ethnic backgrounds and cultures to expand cultural knowledge, build skills and competencies, develop tolerance and acceptance of diversity.
- Youth informing - consists of coordinated services through centres. The goal is to enable young people to make independent, informed decisions that will lead to organizing their own lives.
- Environmental protection - raising the environmental awareness of young people, promoting life in harmony with nature, etc.
- Youth counselling - focused on specific youth issues and problems. It provides information and support based on professional counselling techniques and refers young people to other institutions if necessary.
- Youth work based on free time - includes games, sports, cultural and artistic activities with the aim of developing the physical, intellectual and other potentials of young people. It enables socialization and prevention, has a targeted educational character through a hidden curriculum. This type of youth work is considered as the first step for young people to get involved in other types of youth work.
The site where it is conducted:
- Youth work on the streets
- Detach youth work – conducted in places where young people gather
- “outreach” youth work – short-term activity with the aim of establishing a connection with young people and informing them about the possibilities of involvement in youth work activities
- Club youth work – conducted in youth clubs or centres.
Youth work in Serbia is mainly practised within youth organisations or associations and organisations or associations for youth. The Law on Youth defines a youth association as an association whose membership represents at least two thirds of young people and whose goals or areas of achievement are aimed at young people. On the other side, an association for youth is any other association whose goals or areas of goal achievement are, among other things, aimed at young people.
Funds for the implementation of the National Youth Strategy (2015-2025) are provided in the budget of the Republic of Serbia, as well as in the budget of the autonomous provinces and local self-governments, including the contribution of EU IPA funds, participation of the private sector, youth activity associations and other national and international programmes and donors (CoE Country sheet on youth work in Serbia).
The main funder of the youth work activities is the Government of the Republic of Serbia, Ministry of Youth and Sports. According to the Law on Youth (Article 20) the funds for supporting programmes and projects of public interest in the youth sector are provided in the budget of the Republic of Serbia. Public calls for proposals managed by the ministry are regular mechanism for supporting youth associations and local self-governments.
In line with the Law on Youth (Article 26), units of local self-government could allocate their budget funds for financing the needs and interests of young people. This, however, means that due to respecting the right to autonomy of local self-government and its distinctive needs they do not have a legal obligation to assign certain amounts of funds for youth issues.
Since 2016, the Foundation Tempus has been responsible for providing support to projects related to youth work and youth workers.In a four-years period, 16 projects supporting the mobility of youth workers were financed through the Erasmus+ Programme. Total grant of 240 147 EUR was deployed among 124 contracted organisations to support 399 participants (figure 5).
Figure 10.3.2: Overview of funded Erasmus+ projects supporting youth work
Source: Erasmus+ Dashboard
Other than the Law on Youth, there is no special framework of cooperation between all youth work stakeholders established or promoted by the national authorities. The Law on Youth is the legal framework based on which bodies for cooperation have been established.
The Youth Council established within the Ministry of Youth and Sports stimulates and harmonizes activities related to the development and implementation of youth policy proposing measures for its improvement, as well as harmonizing and coordinating intersectoral coordination at the national level. It ensures that the needs of young people are reflected in the policies and enables youth participation in the development, implementation and monitoring of public policies.
The council gathers members of different ministries, youth offices and national councils of national minorities, youth organizations, organizations for youth and their associations enabling cross-sectoral, horizontal, inter-ministerial and interdepartmental approach to youth policy-making across various policy-making fields, aiming at maximizing the potential of youth policy. More on cross-sectoral approach between the ministries can be read in Chapter 1.5 Cross-sectoral approach with other ministries.
The Provincial Youth Council stimulates and coordinates activities related to the development and implementation of youth policy and propose measures for their improvement at the level of Autonomous Province of Vojvodina (APV). Provincial Youth Council is established and coordinated by the Provincial Secretariat for Sports and Youth.
The Local Youth Council (see Glossary) is another governmental advisory body of the Municipal Assembly/City Assembly responsible for cross-sectoral collaborative work. Council gathers members of different ministries, youth offices and national councils of national minorities, youth organizations, organizations for youth and their associations enabling cross-sectoral, horizontal, inter-ministerial and interdepartmental approach to youth policy-making across various policy-making fields, aiming at maximizing the potential of youth policy. It encourages, coordinates and monitors activities related to the development and implementation of youth policy at the local level and proposes measures for its improvement.
The Local Youth Council has two important roles:
- It is a body that allows young people to participate actively in decision-making;
- It is a body for networking and cross-sectoral cooperation with various institutions involved in the field of youth (schools, Ministry of Interior, National Employment Service, Health Centres, etc.).
The National Association of Youth Workers (NAPOR) gathers 68 organisations with the aim of encouraging networking and exchange of knowledge and practice between associations that conduct youth work. NAPOR has for the quality assurance purposes, established a pool of licensed organisation and trainers for delivery of multi-modular trainings for non-formal education vocational standards as well as a pool of mentors for validation of previously acquired competences.
The National Youth Council of Serbia - KOMS as the highest representative body of the young population serves as an advocacy platform for the improving the position of young people and acts as a link between young people, their member organizations and various decision-makers and providers of youth programmes and services. KOMS has, together with NAPOR, been an initiator of the Youth Network of the Standing Conference of Towns and Municipalities (SCTM) which supports implementation of youth programmes at the local level (see more in 9.3 Exchanges between young people and policy-makers on global issues)
Moreover, KOMS has launched a Pool of Trainers with the aim of improving capacity building programs, standardization of work and better work on its own development, support to member organizations and other youth policy actors. The concept was developed through a broad consultative process so that its form would be better adapted to the needs of all stakeholders.