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Youth policies -also those concerning youth work- are designed and implemented, mostly, at a regional level, as from the 1980s onwards. As it is stated in Youth Policies in the Democratic Spain “all the autonomous regions had already assumed their competences in the matter of youth in their respective Statutes of Autonomy that entered into force between 1979 (the Basque Country was the first) and 1983 (Castilla y León was the last one)”. Thus, the central government has limited competences in this matter.
As said, Youth Policies and youth work takes place mainly at a regional level, usually through the regional youth institutes, regional youth councils and town halls, although the central administration retains limited competences and responsibilities in the field of youth work.
The main youth work public actors are:
- The Ministry of Social Rights and 2030 Agenda (Ministerio Derechos sociales y Agenda 2030).
- The Youth Institute (Instituto de la Juventud, INJUVE).
- The Youth Council (Consejo de la Juventud).
- The Spanish Federation of Municipalities and Provinces (Federación Española de Municipios y Provincias).
- The Andalusian Youth Institute (Instituto de Juventud Andaluz): This is an institution that depends on the Office of Equality, Social Policies and Conciliation (Consejería de Igualdad, Políticas Sociales y Conciliación). Its aim is to coordinate the youth policies in the eight provinces of the Andalusian Region. It has a number of provincial directorates responsible for the development of youth policies at a provincial level. Currently they deal with the sexual education of the youth (educación sexual de los jóvenes), the volunteer youth camps (campos de voluntariado juvenil) and the youth art programmes (programas de arte joven). In addition, they have developed a Strategic Youth Plan in Andalusia (Plan Estratégico de la Juventud en Andalucía), using participatory methods to involve the youth in its design.
- The Aragonese Youth Institute (Instituto de Juventud de Aragón, IAJ): It is an autonomous body of the Aragonese Government attached to the Citizenship and Social Rights Department (Departamento de ciudadanía y derechos sociales). The Aragonese Youth Institute develops, plans and coordinates the youth policies of the Aragonese Government. Its plans entail youth health prevention and promotion plans (planes para la prevención y fomento de la salud entre los jóvenes) and youth courses and counseling in the housing and labour fields (cursos y asesoría para jóvenes en materia de vivienda y empleo), among a wide range of other activities.
- The Asturian Youth Institute (Instituto Asturiano de la Juventud, IAJ): This institute depends on the Presidential Council (Consejo Presidencial). Its main objective is to foster youth integration into the labour market, ensuring the equality of opportunities and enhancing youth participation in social, cultural and political life. Some examples are: Entrepreneurial microcredit youth plan (microcréditos para jóvenes emprendedores), network of youth hostels (albergues juveniles), and artistic and cultural creation calls (convocatorias para la creación artística y cultural).
- The Balearic Youth Institute (Instituto Balear de la Juventud): Its main objective is to coordinate and execute the regional policies in the youth and leisure fields. This institute is in charge of the emission of the youth card, designing policies to make youth mobility easier and planning of services and activities related with tourism and youth leisure, among other functions.
- In the Canary Islands Autonomous Region, the General Directorate of the Youth (Dirección General de Juventud) depends on the Office of Social Rights, Equality, Diversity and Youth of the regional Government. The main youth programs are: the vial educational programme (plan de educación vial), the programme for the support and creation of youth participative structures (apoyo y la creación de estructuras de participación juvenil) and the formative courses for youth workers (cursos formativos para youth workers).
- The General Directorate of the Youth of Cantabria (Dirección General de Juventud de Cantabria), is a body of the Cantabrian Government, dependent on the vice-presidency. Its main goal is to enhance programmes and services that enrich the coexistence and development of the Cantabrian youth. This institution promotes improvements for the youth in different fields, such as: employment, training, leisure and culture. Its programmes include Youth musical contests (Certámenes de música para jóvenes) and the promotion of youth associations (Promoción del asociacionismo joven).
- The General Directorate of the Youth and Sport (Dirección General de Juventud y Deportes), is responsible for the youth policies in Castilla La Mancha. Its main objective is to strengthen the personal autonomy and the quality of life of the youth. It is accountable to the Government of Castilla La Mancha. The main actions of this body are: the youth volunteer camps (campos de voluntariado juvenil), the promotion of health among the youth (promoción de la salud entre los jóvenes), or the youth leisure centres (Escuelas de Animación Juvenil).
- The Youth Institute of Castilla y León (Instituto de la Juventud de Castilla y León): It is the government body of Castilla y León responsible for the youth policies in the region. As in Andalusia, there are youth divisions in all the provinces responsible of the implementation of the youth policies of the regional government. Some of its programs are language courses (cursos de idiomas) and artistic and cultural courses (formación artística y cultural y emprendimiento). Finally, this regional youth institute offers grants for young entrepreneurs (ayudas a jóvenes emprendedores).
- Catalan Agency for the Youth (Agencia Catalana de la Juventud, ACJ): This is the official body in charge of executing the catalan youth programmes and managing the administration services in this field. The Catalan Agency for the Youth has an advisory function to the local entities. It cooperates with the Catalan General Directorate of the Youth (Dirección general de la juventud de Cataluña), ultimately dependent on the Government of this autonomous region. Some of its activities and programmes are related with the youth emancipation (emancipación juvenil) and with the participation of the youth in associations (participación de los jóvenes en asociaciones de distinto ámbito). The Catalan Observatory of the Youth (Observatorio catalan de la juventud) is a useful tool for youth workers and researchers to improve their analyses of the situation of the youth in Catalonia.
- The Youth House of Ceuta (La Casa de la Juventud de Ceuta) is a youth meeting and participation center that provides information about topics concerning the youth. It is a public and free service. It depends on the Autonomous City of Ceuta. Its activities range from cultural and musical initiatives, such as Jazzceuta, to the youth award programme (programas de premios jóvenes) in the fields of poetry, music or cinema.
- The Youth Institute of Extremadura (Instituto de Juventud de Extremadura): This regional entity was created in 2007 to serve as a hub for the youth and to coordinate the regional youth policies. Its main activities entail youth emancipation, leisure and health. The Youth Plan of Extremadura 2017-2020 (Plan de Juventud de Extremadura 2017-2020), includes several initiatives for the dynamization the youth through youth work.
- The General Directorate of the Youth, Participation and Volunteering of Galicia (Dirección General de Juventud, Participación y Voluntariado of Galicia) is the department of the regional Government whose main priority is to address the main requirements and concerns of the youth of Galicia. Among its activities, the young artist contests (concursos para jóvenes creadores) and summer camps for the youth (campamentos de verano para jóvenes) stand out. It is important to mention that the Law 6/2012 (Ley 6/2012), from the 19 of June, states that the Youth School of Galicia can train youth workers.
- The Youth Institute of La Rioja (Instituto Riojano de la Juventud) is in charge of the institutional offer related to leisure time, employment, training and participation of the youth of that region. Online courses for the training of the youth (Cursos online para la formacion de jovenes) and the youth art contests (Muestra de arte joven) are among the opportunities offered. In the article 41 of the 7/2005 Law (Ley 7/2005), through which the Youth Institute of La Rioja was created, youth workers are recognized as fundamental human resource for the implementation of youth policies.
- The autonomous city of Melilla has its own Youth Institute currently under construction.
- In the Region of Murcia, the General Directorate of the Youth (Dirección General de Juventud) assumes the competences related to the youth. This body aims to impulse, promote and develop youth policies in Murcia. It is dependent on the Office of Tourism, Youth and Sport (Consejería de Turismo, Juventud y Deportes). The Youth Institute of Murcia is to be created. Information related to youth can be found on the website (portal web) of the General Directorate. The Youth plan 2019-2023 of the Region of Murcia (plan de Juventud de la Región de Murcia 2019-2023) aims, among other proposals, to create a regional framework for youth workers.
- The Youth and Sport Institute of Navarra (Instituto Navarro de Deporte y Juventud), is a regional entity with competences in the field of sport and youth. This is another example of how Youth and Sport usually come together. One of the key initiatives regarding youth workers are the Youth Workers Promotion Conferences (Jornadas de Promoción de Técnicos de Juventud). The Government of Navarre has approved the III Youth Plan 2021-23, which will allocate 53,787,461 euros to a total of 140 actions aimed at young people in Navarre in 2021. The Plan works on four transversal axes that influence each of the proposed actions: participation and the construction of new strategies linked to it; social integration and diversity, from which the increasingly diverse and complex reality of young people is addressed; equality, which develops a transversal feminist vision to put an end to gender-related inequality and the recognition of all sexual diversity; and territorial cohesion, as a principle in the fight against youth depopulation in Navarre.
- The Valencian Youth Institute (Institut Valencià de la Joventut): It is an autonomous entity of the Government of the Valencian region. It is attached to the vice-presidency and the Office of Equality and Inclusive Policies (Consejería de Igualdad y políticas inclusivas). It is in charge of coordinating the youth policies in the autonomous region of Valencia. Some of it activities are related with youth emancipation, training, leisure time and diversity. It also has training programmes for youth workers (programas de formación de youth workers). They have developed the Valencian Youth Strategy 2019-2023 (Estratègia valenciana de joventut 2019-2023) in which, among other things, It will contain specific measures to facilitate the emancipation of young people, both in terms of training and occupation, guidance and reconciliation of personal, family and work life, and housing and mobility; It will include actions from the fields of health, responsible consumption and access to educational leisure, through culture and sport; It will pay particular attention to groups with special difficulties: young people from rural areas, young people with functional diversity, young people with dependents, single-parent families, minorities, immigrants and young people who have had to move abroad for economic reasons.
In Spain there are different NGOs and associations supporting the social and personal development of the youth through non formal or informal learning. Some of them are the following:
- Association for the Youth Training and Intercultural Activities (Asociación para la Formación y Actividades Interculturales para la Juventud): This NGO created in 1999 is linked with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations through the International Cultural Youth Exchange (Federación ICYE). Its main objective is to promote the development of the youth and the volunteer work, through activities of social interest. These activities promote youth training, cultural exchange and international mobility.
- Anar Foundation (Fundación Anar) is an NGO devoted to the support of children and adolescents at risk of social exclusion. It was created in 1970 and it works in Spain and South America. Its values are based on the Convention on the Rights of the Child of the United Nations.
- FAD Foundation (Fundación FAD): The FAD Foundation intends to enhance the social development of the youth. This organization aims to achieve this goal through education and the development of critical thinking, to prevent the youth from risky behaviours. It works under the Objectives of Sustainable Development of the United Nations, therefore contributes substantially to the development of the youth and social justice.
- Exit Foundation (Fundación Exit): It was created in 2000 in Spain. It works with young people at risk of social exclusion. This organization intends to prevent the early school dropout ensuring a better integration in the labour market.
- YMCA (Asociación YMCA): created in 1980, it is a non-profit, non-denominational and non-political organisation, run by volunteers, which aims to improve society through the integral development of young people, creating opportunities, reducing their vulnerability and strengthening their environment.
Political decision making related with youth work is done mostly at the regional level. Nevertheless, some regional governments outsource their competences to the local ones. Therefore, this sectoral cooperation happens between these two levels. Some of the most important institutions involved are:
Interministerial Committee for the Youth (La comisión interministerial para la juventud).
This commission was created by the Royal Decree 658/1986 (Real Decreto 658/1986). In 1989 it changed its name to the Interministerial Commission for the Youth and the Childhood. Some of the functions of the commission were also modified.
In 2008, following the Royal Decree 1923/2008 (Real Decreto 1923/2008), some of the ministerial departments were restructured and the commission was again renamed to the Interministerial Commission for the Youth. From that moment, the functions related with the childhood, were transferred to the Observatory of the Childhood.
Originally attached to the Ministry of Culture, in 2008, this commission became part of the Ministry of Equality, now extinct. It was chaired by the Minister of Equality. From then on, its functions, composition and operation were regulated by the ministry. The General Director of the Youth Institute served as vice-president. The members-at-large represented the different departments. An official from the Youth Institute, named by the Commission President, served as the secretary. Additionally, the Chair of the Spain Council of the Youth was also named member-at-large. The last meeting of this commission took place in 2010 in the form of a plenary session.
Inter-regional Council of the Youth (El Consejo Interterritorial de la Juventud)
The Inter-regional Council of the Youth promotes dialogue and cooperation among the youth institutes of the Autonomous Regions and the Autonomous Cities of Ceuta and Melilla for the development of joint actions on the youth.
This council, organized by the INJUVE, meets twice per year and the representatives of the Autonomous Communities and the FEMP (Federación Española de Municipios y Provincias) also take part in it. The first Inter-regional Council of Youth took place in March 2018 in Granada and all the Regional Communities’ General Directors of the Youth assisted. The aim of this meeting was to evaluate the existing youth policies in order to improve them for the benefit of the youth.
Among the different topics addressed during that meeting of the Council an original and innovative programme related to a course that will be given to youth organizations and youth workers under the framework of the National Strategy against radicalisation of youth is worth mentioning. This course will take place in the Euro-Latin-American Centre of the Youth, CEULAJ (Centro Eurolatinoamericano de la Juventud) and youth workers will perform a key role.
During that meeting, protocols and programmes to prevent youth radicalization were assessed with the Interior Ministry and the Autonomous Communities. In addition, Autonomous Communities’ participation in the Youth Talent (Talento Joven) programme was discussed. Furthermore, the situation and perspectives for the launching of a recognition system of non-formal youth training was also raised as an important issue.
The last meeting of the Council took place in October 2020 in Madrid, the capital of Spain. The main topic was the Shock Plan for Young Employment 2019-2021 (Plan de Choque de Empleo Joven 2019-2021) and the RED SIJ-INJUVE programme for youth vulnerability (Programa de atención a jóvenes vulnerables).