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The decentralization of government in Spain makes youth competences a regional responsibility. Usually the regional youth institutes are the institutions that develop support policies for youth work that are carried out by public and private organizations, such as town halls or NGOs. However, the Action Plan of the Youth Strategy 2020 (Plan de Acción de la Estrategia de Juventud 2020) was created with the unifying intention of offering a common national strategy on youth policies and youth work for the autonomous regions and town halls of Spain.
At a more detailed level, the Action Plan of Youth Strategy 2020 was designed to enhance coordination between youth departments of the administration and the educative centers (schools, faculties, etc.) to funnel job opportunities and routes of training. Youth workers will benefit from this plan as they are the human resources needed to implement these youth policies and to foster job opportunities among youth.
Among the main objectives of the Action Plan of Youth Strategy 2020 (Plan de Acción de la Estrategia de Juventud 2020) are the promotion of healthy habits, the encouragement to volunteer among the youth, the commitment to eradicate any form of discrimination and by extension to promote equality. These tasks are mostly competence of youth workers who will play a key role in their execution.
Following what was stated in the introduction, the functions that the youth workers carry out vary depending on the Autonomous Community due to the Spanish multilevel governance framework. However, some of these functions are similar both at the regional and local levels. Taking this into account, what follows is a list of basic and shared youth worker functions (taken from different regional and local calls related to youth work):
- To coordinate with other organizations (national, regional and local) and with the rest of youth workers to design, implement and evaluate youth plans as well as information campaigns and youth leisure programmes for the youth;
- To facilitate information and advice about activities, resources, services and programmes which can be of interest for the youth;
- To dynamize the youth (through associations and volunteering);
- To support local youth councils and youth associations;
- To coordinate and design activities related to educational leisure;
- To run awareness campaigns and education in values;
- To detect and disseminate good practices among the youth at a local level;
- To evaluate the actions carried out.
Action Plan for Youth Employment (2019-2021)
Although many actions have been carried by the central government and the autonomous communities during the last years, improving the opportunities for training and employment for young people in Spain is still a big challenge. That is why, in 2018, the Ministry of Labour, Migration and Social Security developed the Action Plan for Youth Employment (2019-2021).
With a 2.000€ million budget and a large range of different programmes, this action plan´s main goals are:
- Reduce young unemployment rate to 23.5%
- Increase activity rate to 73.5%
- Reduce the current gender gap by 20%
- 15% more permanent contracts each year
- Train at least:
- 43% (100.000) unemployed registered young people with no Compulsory Secondary Education qualification in key skills in Spanish and Mathematics
- 30% of young people in language skills
- 225,000 young people in digital skills
- 25% (40.000) of young people in strategic sectors skills
To achieve these goals, the plan is based on 8 objectives for young people:
- Create a top-quality framework for employment and dignified work
- Be the main actors of their own qualification and labor market insertion process
- Increase their qualifications and employability by acquiring more professional skills
- Be part of a new economic model based on social sustainability, productivity and added value
- Provide adequate and individualized assistance from the Public Employment Services
- Avoid horizontal segregation and the gender wage gap
- Fight despair among those who give up job search and hope of finding it
- Provide special assistance to specific vulnerable group
The Action Plan of Youth Strategy 2020 (Plan de Acción de la Estrategia de Juventud 2020) had been allocated with a budget of 2.9M euros and included 211 actions. More than 90% of the budget was assigned to enhance employment and entrepreneurship among the 6.2 million of Spanish youth between 15 to 29 years old (13,33% of the total population).
To carry out these employment and entrepreneurship objectives youth workers are a fundamental part of the plan since they are responsible for executing the actions the plan entails.
Regarding European funds assigned to youth workers, the Youth Dialogue Project should be mentioned. As stated in section 10.4, the Youth Dialogue Project’s main objective is to promote youth activities in the democratic process. Additionally, it aims to encourage the discussion about priorities and topics of the EU Strategy for the Youth and its many dialogue mechanisms. These dialogue mechanisms pivot around schedules and priorities of the various groups that form the Youth Dialogue. The goal is to promote debates among the youth, youth workers and political decision-makers to provide policy recommendations that can be used for better legislation.
Another initiative is the Erasmus + Programme Guide, an EU´s programme that supports education, training, youth and sport in Europe by providing opportunities for over 4 million Europeans to study, train, and gain experience. As it is indicated in the Erasmus + Programme Guide, the maximum amount that can be received by each project is 50.000 euros.Erasmus+ also has a programme of Network and Training. This programme promotes professional growth of youth workers through networking and training abroad thanks to the exchange programmes.
To be a part of the Erasmus+ programme as a youth worker the organization of the candidate must be registered in some of the youth mobility programmes of the EU. Once the requirements are met, the EU offers grants for mobility and for the costs of the activities carried out during the exchange experience. These mobility grants vary on the distance the youth workers must travel (between 20 and 1500€). Additionally, there is aid for organizational support of up to 1100€ per participant.
Finally, we should mention the Youth Guarantee initiative, a commitment by all members states to ensure that all young people under the age of 25 years receive a good quality offer of employment, continued education, apprenticeship and traineeship. All EU countries committed to the implementation of the Youth Guarantee in a Council Recommendation in April 2013.
So far, these initiatives have helped to improve the lives of millions of young Europeans by providing them with educational, training and employment support.
As it was indicated at the beginning of this section, cooperation between different organizations related to youth work depends on the legal regional framework. Usually the regions, specifically the regional youth institutes, work alongside town halls, local organizations, local youth associations (they can form youth federations), youth sections of other entities and groups responsible for the recruitment and training of youth workers.
In the case of INJUVE, almost all the initiatives and plans would not be possible without a network of collaborations with different organisms, entities and associations that work for the youth.
INJUVE collaborates with the youth associations through the Youth Council of Spain (CJE). The CJE was created with the aim to arouse the participation of the youth at the political, cultural, social and economic levels in Spain.
The main objectives of the CJE are:
- To collaborate with social agents to achieve a global youth policy that can respond to the problems and concerns of the youth.
- To promote participation and youth associations.
- To channel the proposals of the youth to the administration and society.
- To conduct studies and research that unveils the true nature of youth reality.
- To represent Spanish youth in the international youth organizations.
- To provide services and support to the youth organizations.
- To provide the instruments that respond to the demands of the youth for the development of their individual and collective objectives.
Furthermore, the INJUVE has two bodies for dialogue between the youth and institutions:
The Governing Council of INJUVE:
It comprises representatives of youth associations and its main tasks are the management of the INJUVE, the promotion of participation and the monitoring of the youth policies. To do so, the associative network, represented through the CJE, is involved.
In the last meeting of the Governing Council of the INJUVE that took place in 2018, the former minister of Health, Consumption and Social Welfare, María Luisa Carcedo, highlighted the sensitivity and the commitment of the Government to the youth. She stated that: “The Government is aware of the difficulties that the youth confront, and it is acting to solve them”.
The meeting was also attended by the former Secretary of State of Social Services, Ana Isabel Lima; the general director of INJUVE, Ruth Carrasco, and the representatives of the Permanent Commission of the Youth Council of Spain (Comisión Permanente del Consejo de la Juventud de España).
One of the most significant topics addressed during the meeting was the change of legal nature of the CJE, now a public organization with private basis and with its own budget. It is a diverse platform of youth organizations with two objectives: discussing youth policies with the General State Administration and fostering the participation of the youth in the creation of public policies, among them the policies related to youth work.
This way, the Ministry of Health, Consumption and Social Welfare, through INJUVE, contributes with the fulfilment of article 48 of the Spanish Constitution that urges public authorities to promote the conditions for the free and effective participation of the youth at a political, social, cultural and economic level.
Carcedo also highlighted the Youth Employment Plan 2019-2021 (Plan de Empleo Joven 2019-2021) approved on 7th December 2018 by the Council of Ministers to reduce by 10 points the youth unemployment rate and job insecurity. The Ministry of Health, Consumption and Social Welfare (Ministerio de Sanidad, Consumo y Bienestar Social) will participate in the development of the plan through INJUVE.
Among the actions planned is the recruitment in the public employment services of 3000 labour counsellors. They will be responsible for giving advice to the youth in their job search, including the monitoring until integration into the labour market.
Alongside the recruitment of these counsellors another action planned is to give support to the Network of Services of Youth Information (Red de Servicios de Información Juvenil), coordinated by the Youth Institute. The incorporation of 110 youth workers to the local employment services is the most relevant support action of this initiative. The task of these youth workers will be to provide information about the plan to the youth.
Also the Youth Institute has evaluated the Recognize program (Reconoce), part of a collaborative effort of Don Bosco Confederacy of Youth Centres (Confederación de Centros Júveniles Don Bosco), the Didiana Federation (Federación Didiana) and ASDE Scouts of Spain (ASDE Scouts de España). The main goal of the program is to create a system of recognition for the volunteer work. If recognized, this type of work could increase the opportunities of the volunteers in the labour market.
This emphasis in the development of the Recognize program has a major importance for youth workers, both in the recognition of their work, as well as in the process of establishing themselves as a professional group recognized at the national level. This can lead to locate youth workers in non-formal fields regardless of academic or job records, something beneficial for the development and establishment of youth workers in Spain.
La Comisión Tripartita para el Empleo Joven:
This commission gives advice to the Youth Institute in the field of youth employment through the participation of social agents.
A milestone for the cooperation efforts between youth workers was the National Meeting of Youth Workers 2019 (Encuentro Estatal de Profesionales de Juventud 2019) entitled “The Youth Policies That We Need: Concrete Proposals for the Political Manifestos”. In this meeting, the youth workers debated their current situation and the future of this group in Spain. The general director of the Youth Institute, Ruth Carrasco, participated in this meeting, organized by the Youth Workers Association of the Valencian Region (Asociación de Profesionales de Juventud de la Comunitat Valenciana, APJCV) and the Valencian Youth Institute (Instituto Valenciano de la Juventud, IVAJ).
The intention of the organizers of this meeting was to gather youth workers from the different regions of Spain in order to contextualize the national policies on youth and analyse the varying profiles of youth workers in the national territory. The meeting allowed for the debate and the dissemination of good practices, and for the elaboration of concrete proposals and discuss policies at the national, regional and local levels.
Moreover, INJUVE and Esplai Foundation organized the 2020 Esplai Foundation Forum. which, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, was online. This year's theme is against xenophobia.
Regarding the NGOs cooperation on the youth the closing ceremony of the XVII Annual Meeting of Youth Red Cross (Acto de clausura de la XVII Junta General de Cruz Roja Juventud) should be underlined.
The General Council of Social Work (Consejo General del Trabajo Social) organized different meetings with the professional associations of social work. These meetings fostered the exchange of experiences and good practices between the participating professional associations and improved interprofessional cooperation to increase public awareness about these organizations.