National Youth Work and Youth Policy Programme has been adopted
In its resolution of 12 October, the Government outlined measures to be taken to promote young people’s growth and living conditions during the remainder of the government term. The National Youth Work and Youth Policy Programme is a cross-sectoral programme drawn up under the new Youth Act. The programme will be adopted as a government resolution every four years. As the Youth Act was amended during the current government term, the first programme now adopted covers only the period 2017–2019.
“We need ambitious and solution-oriented youth policy which aims to improve young people’s everyday lives. Promotion of young people’s opportunities for participation, improvement of leisure opportunities, enhancement of skills needed in working life and independent living, and prevention of mental health problems are the key objectives defined in the programme,” says Minister for European Affairs, Culture and Sport Sampo Terho, who is responsible for youth affairs in the Government.
In accordance with the definition of young people laid down in the Youth Act, the programme concerns all those under 29 years of age. The key measures determined in the programme are, however, targeted at improving the living conditions of young people aged between 12 and 25.
The programme focuses on the implementation of certain earlier-defined government policies from the perspective of cross-sectoral youth policy. In addition to the Ministry of Education and Culture, several other ministries will participate in the implementation of the programme: Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, Ministry of the Interior, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, Ministry of the Environment, and Ministry of Defence. To attain the objectives set out in the national programme, the aim is to integrate a youth policy perspective into the basic activities of different administrative branches.
Five national youth policy objectives
The programme sets out five key youth policy objectives for the government term:
1.Every child and young person will be given a possibility to engage in at least one free-time hobby of their choice;
2.Young people’s employability skills will be enhanced and social exclusion reduced;
3.Young people will be provided with more opportunities for participation and exerting influence;
4.Fewer young people will suffer from mental health problems thanks to preventive work; and
5.Young people will be provided with sufficient guidance and other support for independent living.
The programme includes 20 measures. Leisure opportunities for children and young people will be improved for example through a project which increases the availability of local low-threshold sports activities. The project seeks to improve especially the availability of sports activities which include no element of competition and the possibilities for beginners’ groups to use premises of educational institutions for their activities.
“Every child and young person must have an opportunity to engage in a meaningful hobby with a low threshold. Discontinuation of hobbies for example due to families’ financial situation or place of residence must be reduced,” says Minister Sampo Terho.
The capability of young people to find jobs will be improved for example by securing the provision of multi-sectoral services at the One-Stop Guidance Centres as part of the regional government reform and by providing nationwide support for the development of these services.
“Entrepreneurship education provided for young people at educational institutions will be reinforced. Furthermore, skills that young people have acquired in voluntary, leisure and organisational activities will in future be identified, recognised and utilised better than before to promote the employability of young people,” Minister Terho says.
To support young people’s participation in society, public officials’ competence in consulting young people will be improved, for example by producing training material. Cooperation with organisations representing young people will be intensified. Training targeted at public officials will emphasise the importance of providing young people with more opportunities to genuinely exert influence in the decision-making processes.
“The objective is that young people will have more opportunities to be involved in decision-making that interests and affects them and that there will be a youth council or a similar youth advocacy group available for young people in every municipality. Students’ societal knowledge and skills will be enhanced through two additional weekly lessons of social studies per year,” Terho says.
Young people’s mental health will be supported through preventive measures. The programme aims to reinforce different operational models that are assessed to be promising, and it highlights the importance of mental health skills as part of pupil and student welfare.
“Our goal is to reduce the number of young people who suffer from school bullying and to reinforce young people’s mental health,” Terho says.
Young people’s possibilities for independent living will also be supported. These efforts will focus on the prevention of evictions and on the enhanced provision of individual guidance for living.
Programme sets out Finland’s youth policy objectives in international and European contexts
The national programme defines Finland’s objectives for the European and international cooperation in the youth field. The objective for the European and international cooperation is to improve the quality of youth work by investing in youth workers’ competence, networking and exchange of best practices, in the development of digital youth work, and in the production of information concerning the youth field.
Programme determines priorities for the new youth work centres of expertise
The programme determines priorities for the youth work centres of expertise that are to be founded under the new Youth Act. According to the definition laid down in the Youth Act, a national youth work centre of expertise means an entity that seeks to develop and promote competence and expertise in youth-related issues on a nationwide basis.
A centre of expertise may consist of a contract-based consortium of two or more entities. The centres of expertise will, together with the regional state administrative agencies and the statutory State Youth Council and the Assessment and State Aid Commission, form a network that will provide intense support for the Ministry of Education and Culture and reinforce the competence, development and communication in the youth field.
Four priorities have been defined for the activities of the youth work centres of expertise: 1) participation of young people, 2) social empowerment of young people, 3) digital youth work and information and counselling services for young people, and 4) improvement of the quality and methods of youth work.
Furthermore, the centres of expertise may seek to realise any of the other priorities set out in the national programme. The Ministry of Education and Culture will now approve the eligibility for state aid of centres of expertise for the years 2018–2019, while the purpose in future is to choose the eligible centres of expertise for a period of four years at a time. Determination of the eligibility for state aid and allocation of funding, i.e. discretionary government transfers, for youth work centres of expertise is a multi-stage process that is based on discretion.
- Toni Ahva, Special Adviser, tel. 0295 3 30340
- Georg Henrik Wrede, Head of Unit, tel. 0295 3 30345
- Mikko Cortés Téllez, Senior Planning Officer, tel. 0295 3 30080
- Seija Astala, Senior Ministerial Adviser (European and international objectives), tel. 0295 3 30066
- Emma Kuusi, Senior Officer (youth work centres of expertise), tel. 0295 3 30172