10.3 Support to youth work
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Policy legal framework
Act No. 282/2008 on Support of Youth Work defines youth work as mainly an educational activity, a societal activity, an informational activity or an advisory activity for youth, young leaders, youth leaders and youth workers. The main goal of youth work is to ensure personal, professional, and social development of target groups through non-formal education.
Documents the National Strategy of the Slovak Republic for Youth for years 2014-2020, Concept Note for development of Youth work for years 2016-2020 and Action plan for implementation of Concept Note for development of Youth work for years 2016-2020 and 2017-2018 adopted by the government of the Slovak Republic helped to strengthen the position of youth work. Strategy of the Slovak Republic for Youth for years 2014-2020 set strategic objectives for youth policy, reflecting the needs of young people particularly in the field of education, employment, creativity and entrepreneurship of young people, their participation, health, a healthy lifestyle and relationship with nature, social inclusion and volunteering. It also dealt with global issues and set strategic goals for youth work. Within the Strategy, some goals have been met, some require a long-term and a systematic approach and continuity. The law on youth work support was amended to enable organizations to respond to current youth needs or to create a profile of youth worker. Elements of dual education in vocational education have also been introduced. The new Strategy for 2021-2028 adopted in December 2021 builds on and identifies with the old Strategy and with the EU 's Youth Strategy for 2019-2027.
Act No. 282/2008 on Support of Youth Work also regulates the conditions under which individuals, organizations and institutions may be granted a state subsidy in the field of youth work.
IUVENTA – Slovak Youth Institute supports youth work through the activities of Youth Work Support Department. Main tasks of this department are:
- providing educational activities and information for youth workers
- networking the stakeholders, youth organizations and youth workers
- research in the field of youth and youth work.
Main sources of public funding
a) State budget via system of parity taxes through municipalities/towns and regional governments
Local authorities are responsible for children (0-15). Regional authorities have responsibilities for young people from 15 to 18. These financial resources are not earmarked on youth work only, their use is controlled by the self-government, which sometimes retains part of the financial resources as its original competences (Youth Report/Správa o mládeži 2018, p.81).
Youth clubs (Leisure-time activities centres) are financed via system of parity taxes as well as by member fees of club and groups according to legislation given by the local government. Members of the clubs and groups can cover annual fees through education vouchers as well (provided by MESRS). The education voucher is worth 32 € for 2022. The education voucher represents a special annual contribution of the state to educational and leisure-time activities (hobbies) for students.
b) Grant scheme of the MESRS
1. Programmes for Youth 2014 - 2021
Programmes supported mainly national or intraregional youth organizations (5.6 Supporting youth organizations), organizations providing youth counselling and information services. Part of the financial amount was dedicated to one-off projects focused on annual priorities, research projects and projects dedicated to local youth policy development (support of local governments in building local youth policy). In 2021, MESRS subsidized youth work providers with 4 191 431,82 €.
2. MESRS grant scheme aimed at supporting youth work effective from 2022
The grant scheme for the new period was approved at the end of 2021 and at the same time the first calls for registration of eligible applicants in the grant system were announced. Similarly to the previous programming period, eligible applicants are, in particular, youth organizations, that work with young people on a long-term and systematic basis. Part of the financial amount is again dedicated to one-off projects focused on annual priorities, research projects and projects dedicated to local youth policy development.
d) Erasmus +
European Union financial support from the beginning (at pre-accession period) became the crucial tool for youth work development. Significant role in Slovak youth work development has European Solidarity Corps. The Erasmus Plus and European Solidarity Corps programs are managed by the National Agency for Youth and Sport, which is part of IUVENTA - Slovak Youth Institute.
Conditions and requirements to benefit from public funding
a) State budget via system of parity taxes:
- system allows the self-governments to decide (based on its own analyses and democratic governance), what activities and purposes the taxes are used for,
- by means of legislative acts, strategies and conceptions, the State defines a common framework e.g., National Youth Strategy, Conception of Youth Work Development,
- it is exclusively on self-governments to decide what means (financed from the taxes) the state-defined goals will be achieved at local or regional levels,
- the quality assurance is also in hands of self-governments.
b) Grant Scheme, MESRS
- more information on the grant scheme in 1.7. Funding youth policy.
c) Erasmus +
Erasmus+ is specific about conditions and requirements on beneficiaries. Each line/Key Action determines exactly who and if what conditions are met can receive a financial subsidy.
Eligible activities and target groups in funding
a) State budget via system of parity taxes:
- eligibility of activities and choice of priority target group is fully on decision of local and regional parliaments according to their needs and priorities.
b) Programmes for Youth - Grant Scheme, MESRS
- any type of activities defined in the Act on Youth Work Support,
- priority group is youth 13 – 17 of age.
c) Erasmus +
- programme support youth exchanges, voluntary service (including European Solidarity Corps), trainings and further education, strategical partnerships etc.
- priority target groups are defined by National Agencies – generally young people with fewer opportunities are priority in all countries (e.g., young unemployed, ethnic minorities etc.).
d) EU funds
In general, youth work is supported by EU funds through Erasmus+.
European structural and investment funds are available in Slovakia, but the decision to allocate these resources for youth work development is exclusively competence of the government and priorities of the individual Programmes. The project KOMPRAX – Competences for Practice, implemented in 2011-2015, was the last programme supporting youth work development. Sustainability period of mentioned project ended in March 2021.
Despite the state financial support, youth work in Slovakia is still lacking enough financial resources and it is still underestimated. There is also a significant discrepancy between the quality of youth work in rural areas and in the cities.
For more on Funding Youth Work See 1.7.
As youth work is one of the main thematic fields of Slovak Youth Strategy, all consultation processes during the creation of Strategy and its evaluation also contained discussion on youth work development.
By 2021, youth work stakeholders were included in this activities and processes:
- preparation of new Youth Strategy for 2021 – 2028 and its individual themes such as health and well-being (more than 300 participants),
- working group on quality standards in youth work (Štandardy kvality práce s mládežou),
- monitoring committee on Programmes for Youth (Statute/Štatút),
- regular meetings of cross-sectoral working group for state policy in the field of youth coordinated by MESRS.
IUVENTA has signed memorandum pledging to work together in the field of youth work with these partners:
- Slovenský zväz ľadového hokeja (Slovak ice hockey league)
- Žilinský samosprávny kraj (Žilina self-governing region)
- Centrum pre podporu neformálneho vzdelávania (Center for the Support of Non-Formal Education) – CeNeF
- OZ PREVENTISTA (A project aimed at preventing IT crime and contributing to the promotion of information security)
- Junior Achievement SR (A project aimed at developing entrepreneurship, economical thinking, and financial literacy in youth).
- OZ Outdoor Institute (Providing leisure-time and educational programmes for youth)
- ROZBEHNI SA! (A programmes that helps young people with launching of their projects)
- EURES Slovensko
- I AMbitious (Non-formal training programmes for high school students in Slovakia).