2.3 National strategy on youth volunteering
There is no specific national strategy on youth volunteering in Serbia. However, the National Youth Strategy (see Chapter 1/1.3 National Youth Strategy) introduces youth volunteering activities and measures for improving conditions for volunteering of young people and for young people.
The National Youth Strategy emphasizes the importance of volunteering: ‘Volunteering is and should always be the basis of civil society and as such it should be encouraged in society, especially among youth.’ The Strategy states that the noticed low interest of young people for volunteering is due to the unsatisfactory conditions for this kind of engagement. On the other hand, the Strategy finds important that the young people are skilled, especially in technical knowledge, which could be of great help in different volunteering activities.
The National Youth Strategy defined a specific challenge in the field of youth activism and active participation (National Youth Strategy, 4.3 Youth Activism and Active Participation): ‘A non-conducive environment for volunteering, affected by poor institutional framework, the lack of strategy and plan of implementation of the Law on Volunteering and support to voluntary actions.’
In terms of that, the National Youth Strategy’s specific goal is to improve conditions for volunteering of young people and for young people, while the main actor for that should be the Ministry of Youth and Sports.
The expected results and planned activities for tackling the challenge defined in the Strategy are:
1. Conducive environment and support for the development of voluntary activities and youth volunteering provided by:
- Supporting voluntary activities of youth activity associations, youth offices and informal youth groups;
- Supporting involvement of young volunteers in short-term and long-term volunteer programmes;
- Encouraging educational, cultural and sports institutions to recognise, support and valuate youth volunteering;
- Establishing a system for the identification and recognition of skills acquired through volunteering for the purpose of employment and monitor its effectiveness;
- Encouraging intergenerational cooperation and inclusion of vulnerable young people through volunteer programmes, projects and initiatives;
- Supporting programmes for volunteering in case of emergency.
2. Youth volunteering is recognised and its development is supported by:
- Supporting the formulation of volunteering policy at the national level, improvement of legal framework for volunteering and development of volunteer work standards;
- Including volunteering programmes into national and local development plans, and emergency response plans;
- Supporting youth policy actors in gaining understanding of legal obligations and enhancing the protection of volunteers and beneficiaries of volunteering;
- Supporting the networking of volunteer centres and services within youth activity associations and youth offices;
- Developing gender-sensitive criteria for reporting and measuring the effects of volunteering;
- Supporting the programmes that promote volunteering as socially useful activity.
3. Empowered youth activity associations and youth offices to implement volunteering programmes and projects by:
- Ensuring the application of volunteer work standards in the activities of youth activity associations and youth offices;
- Supporting volunteer management training for youth activity associations and youth offices;
- Supporting the development and work of volunteer services within youth activity associations and youth offices;
- Supporting the regular gender-sensitive evaluation of volunteer programmes within youth activity associations and youth offices.
The top-level government authority responsible for the implementation, coordination and monitoring of the National Youth Strategy is the Ministry of Youth and Sports.
One evidence-based evaluation of the implementation of the National Youth Strategy have been conducted. The evaluation was for the implementation period 2015-2017.
Within the specific goal 3 "Improved conditions for volunteering among young people and for young people", three results were expected in which most of the planned activities were realized. Other activities to encourage educational, cultural and sports institutions to recognize, support and evaluate youth volunteering, then support volunteering programmes in emergency situations as well as the development of gender-sensitive criteria for reporting and measuring the effects of volunteering have not been fully implemented.
The National Youth Strategy 2015-2025 has not undergone any revisions/updates since its adoption, as already said in Chapter 1/1.3 National Youth Strategy/Revisions/updates.