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Youth on the Move - InfoMobility BACKGROUND PAPER

Table of Contents Abstract ........................................................................................................................ 2 1. Introduction ............................................................................................................... 3 2. YOUTH INFORMATION AND COUNSELLING AS A BASIC PREREQUISITE FOR SUCCESSFUL SOCIETIES .......................................................................................... 6 3. ASSURANCE OF YOUTH INFORMATION QUALITY............................................. 11 4. YOUTH INFORMATION AND COUNSELLING IN AN ONLINE WORLD ................ 15 5. STAKEHOLDERS AND INSTRUMENTS IN ENHANCING YOUTH INFORMATION AND MOBILITY .......................................................................................................... 17 6. GOOD PRACTICE EXAMPLES IN YOUTH INFORMATION .................................. 23 7. INFORMATION NEEDS AND STATE OF THE ART IN YOUTH INFORMATION AND MOBILITY .......................................................................................................... 31 8. CONCLUSION: TOWARDS INFOMOBILITY SERVICE AS MEANS OF CLOSING THE GAPS BETWEEN STATE-OF-THE-ART AND EUROPEAN POLICY IN YOUTH INFORMING AND MOBILITY ..................................................................................... 35


Youth information and counselling, perceived as inherent element of services supporting youth, is a historically relatively recent phenomena. It used to be directed at keeping youth at the “right path” and centred around morality or at providing psychological help to the young people in personal crisis. Starting from 1960s, the youth information and counselling has shifted towards “generalist” concept, i.e. towards providing youth with user-targeted information and counselling in all areas of interest to youth taking into account their real need. In other words, youth information and counselling systems have recognised this area as a matter of human rights, which enables young people to improve their social status on the basis of their needs and aspirations.

In the introductory part this paper identifies access to quality information as a prerequisite for enabling young people to become self-fulfilled, happy and productive members of their societies. In this respect, a review of youth information policies is also presented, as well as data on youth attitudes towards usage of youth information and counselling systems and insights into youth mobility. These insights are accompanied by identification of crucial stakeholders and instruments in youth information and counselling. It is elaborated why stakeholders in youth information – both government-lead and nongovernmental - bear responsibility to create accountable and appealing youth information and counselling systems that respect young people as both users and producers of information and will in building their autonomy.

An important part of this paper refers to the good practice examples in the field of youth information and counselling, ranging from national youth information and counselling systems to individual projects undertaken at the national level. This section equally presents projects from both EU Member and non-Member


states, trying to encompass varieties of activities that aim at informing the youth and giving them opportunities to express their attitudes and worldviews. In the final section of the paper we identify major drawbacks and advances of European youth information and counselling system, and present the Youth on the Move – Infomobility project as the main theme in closing the gaps between state of the art youth information and counselling and goals set by the European policy guidelines.

1. Introduction

Young people in most of contemporary societies face challenges of the increasing societal crisis and abundance of information, facing contradictory and ever changing information. Therefore, the ability of young people to access relevant information, to be able to assess their relevance and to use them in an enriching and productive way is a prerequisite for their active participation in society. In other words, “access to information does not define itself only in terms of access to different technologies and media, but must take into account the nature and type of information youths need for full participation in society” (UNESCO: Youth and ICT)1. Access to quality information is a prerequisite for autonomous and productive life of young people, and since young people are both users and producers of information they are increasingly becoming aware of their responsibility in creating and disseminating information that affect the lives of others. Still, nowadays many young people do not have access to the necessary computer hardware and software, which is coupled with risks in use of information provided by online tools. In such a situation provision of face-toface information, guidance and counselling are becoming more and more important, requiring close cooperation of various stakeholders and constant education of practitioners in the field of youth. Many young people do not know



where to ask for help, feel hesitant or ashamed to ask for it. In this sense, outreach is a crucial element in reaching the young people in need of information and counselling. The booklet of good practice in youth information, youth participation and peer-to-peer reach-out2 describes development of the outreach work with youth, placing its origins in the activities of nineteenth century philanthropic organisations which attempted to draw young people into a particular service or activity, to deliver a particular message to them, or to exert influence upon them. Nowadays, next to youth information and counselling at service centres, detached youth work is the most prominent one, trying to provide a broad-based ‘social education’ to young people on their own territory. Insights into the brief history of youth information centres3 reveal that providing systematic youth information is a relatively new phenomenon and it goes only sixty years back. First steps were made by Finland where youth information centres were opened in Helsinki (1952) and in Turku (1954). Finland was first to recognise increasing needs of young migrant workers and students who needed more organised help when moving to bigger cities. These info-centres were followed by a wave of youth clubs and youth organisations emerging in 1960s, while the first youth information and counselling centre providing information in all youth-relevant fields (“generalist” approach) was created in 1966 in Ghent by Prof. Willy Faché. After youth information centres in late 1960s were established in Flanders, the Netherlands, Germany and France, most European countries recognised their value and by early 1980s such centres had become a standard for all developed European regions. This was in line with establishing the youth field as one of the European core policy areas, with the first European Conference of Ministers responsible for Youth (Strasbourg, 1985) and the founding of European Youth Information and

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Counselling Agency4 (ERYICA) in 1986. Creation of ERYICA was a clear signal that youth information and counselling had entered the

core of European

undertakings in the field of youth. It brought new organisational schemes and new guiding principles to the national youth info-centres, offering them wider perspective and urging them to organise their practice on the basis of integrated, preventive and educational functions, which should result in enhanced trust of youth in institutions and their better social positioning. As an independent European organisation, ERYICA currently gathers 28 member countries, with more than 7,500 youth information centres and 13,000 workers at service to young people 5 . ERYICA membership is represented through following types of organisations: 1. National Governmental Youth Agencies: Italy, Liechtenstein, Malta, Spain, Portugal, Estonia, Germany and Andorra 2. National Youth Umbrella Organisations: Lithuania, Finland, Belgium Flanders and Cyprus 3. National Coordinating Structures: Finland and Wales (UK) 4. National Youth Information Centres: France, Czech Republic, the Netherlands and Luxembourg 5. Associations of YICs: Austria, Belgium (Wallonia), Croatia, Switzerland and Norway 6. NGOs with Governmental Mandate: Montenegro, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Slovenia and Scotland (UK). The Council of Europe's Recommendation on Youth Information (2010)6 nicely summarizes leading ideas strengthening the European network in youth information and counselling, by recommending the member states to “foster and

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strengthen the generalist and multiagency character of youth information and counselling services, as being complementary to specialised services for young people”. According to this Recommendation, such a system should include: -

consolidation of existing and development of new counselling services


assuring access of young people to information, regardless their background


taking into account grass-root organisations of young people and wide public consultations


promoting information literacy in non-formal, informal and formal education


raising awareness of risks in usage of different information sources and methods.

The generalist youth information covers all relevant subjects for young people: 1) education; 2) jobs and career; 3) leisure time, sports and cultural activities; 4) legislation relating to young people; 5) housing; 6) money issues; 7) health issues; 8) facilities and services for young people in the local area; 9) holiday and travel and 10) volunteering and European and international opportunities. The recommendation followed a “generalist” by setting the focus of youth information and counselling to “all sectors, without exception”. At the same time, it promotes young people’s autonomy and complete freedom of choice, without any discrimination or ideological or other influence. The value of this document also lies with its target groups, addressing not only decision makers and politicians, but experts in the field of youth and youth workers as well.











Recommendation of the Committee of Ministers to Member States concerning information and counselling for young people in Europe (1990) 7 emphasizes “that young people have a right to full, comprehensible and reliable information, without reservations, and to counselling on all problems concerning them in all sectors, without exception, so that they may have complete freedom of choice, without any discrimination or ideological or other influence”. Streaming from this, the Committee urges the Member states to: “foster and support the creation and/or development of appropriate information and counselling services which observe the following principles: the services should be versatile, the sources varied and the replies to enquiries comprehensive; young people's right to anonymity should be respected and the information reliable; the service should be accessible to all without discrimination, should be of a non-commercial character and should promote young people's independence”. The 1995 Recommendation on Youth Mobility8 called the co-operation bodies to the creation and development of appropriate information and counselling services which could help young people in building, implementing and assessing mobility projects. This is recommended to be done in collaboration with young people and youth organisations, using wide consultative processes. Several years later (in 2001) a document which presents one of the pillar of coherent and comprehensive youth policies, the White Paper on Youth9 was brought by the European Commission. It stated that “the aim of European action is not to increase the structures, channels and quantity of information already available but to improve the quality of information available to young people.” Following this, institutional structures at national, regional and local

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levels were encouraged to develop youth information networks and to support “openness” and “participation” in creating information for youth. These two crucial terms were defined in a following way: -

“openness: providing information and active communication for young people, in their language, so that they understand the workings of Europe and of the policies which concern them;


participation: ensuring young people are consulted and more involved in the decisions which concern them and, in general, in the life of their communities”.

Importance of youth participation was also emphasized by the Council Resolution on common objectives for participation by and information for young people (2002)10, which built its premises on the basis of the “White paper”. In order to improve young people’s access to quality information it calls the Member States to take holistic, coherent, coordinated, enabling and nondiscriminatory process which bears no additional costs for young people. Furthermore, it asks for “encouraging greater involvement of young people in the dissemination of youth information (particularly in youth information centres, schools, clubs and the media) and in counselling their peers, especially those who have difficulties in gaining access to information and advice”. Another pillar in the European youth policy – the European Youth Pact (2005)11 – emphasizes that “the participation and information of young people, voluntary activities and a greater understanding and knowledge of youth remain key in building healthy societies”. Three factors are of the utmost importance in this respect: improving access for young people to information services, increasing the quality of information and increasing participation of youth in creation of information. In line with the previously mentioned documents, the European Quality Charter for

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Mobility (2006) 12 lists ten principles implemented on a voluntary and flexible basis, where information and guidance being one of them: “every candidate should have access to clear and reliable sources of information and guidance on mobility and the conditions in which it can be taken up, including details of the Charter itself and the roles of sending and hosting organisations”.

Striving of stakeholders engaged in youth information and counselling to provide relevant information accessible to all youth is very often hindered by fragmentation or disconnection of service and data. Fragmentation of data in youth information sector and disconnection of various information sources was recognised by the “Resolution concerning an action plan for mobility” (2000)13, which recommended “to bring together the information into an easily accessible format and promote networking among the relevant organisations and agencies at local, regional, national and European levels, and ensure that people are aware of its existence through adequate publicity and promotion”. Similarly, the Recommendation for students, persons undergoing training, young volunteers, teachers and trainers (2001)14 called for “the creation of a database on jobs and learning opportunities, in the context of decentralised procedures and taking full advantage of existing structures and mechanisms such as the European Employment Services (EURES 15 )”. The Council Resolution on a renewed framework for European cooperation in the youth field (2010-2018) 16 called for “improving access to quality youth information and disseminating information through all possible channels at local, regional, national level, as well as through Europe-wide organisations such as Eurodesk, ERYICA and EYCA and 12 .pdf 14 mobility-within-the-Community-for-students--persons-undergoing-training--volunteers--teachers.pdf 15 16 13


other European networks�. Moreover, the European Parliament resolution on recognising and promoting cross-border voluntary activities in the EU (2012)17 called “the Member States to ensure legal certainty for volunteers, not least with regard to insurance issues, so that the various regimes in the different Member States encourage cross-border volunteering, and also to ensure better provision of information to volunteers in connection with their rights and the regulatory and institutional arrangements pertaining in the various Member States�. These considerations take us to the following component, substantial to youth information and counselling, that could enable and empower them to become productive and satisfied members of their societies.




Council Resolution on common objectives for participation by and information for young people (2002)18 warns that “the information products offered to young people are often of poor quality, do not always reach the target group in question, fail to make adequate use of new technologies and make only a limited contribution to enhancing young people’s participation in society”. Moreover, youth workers very often lack skills in youth counselling, which altogether calls for “developing a code of standards in the area of information provision and counselling services for young people, particularly by establishing common quality criteria and quality control mechanisms, and improving the education and training of those working in the field

of youth information,

particularly with regard to […] improving the link between information and counselling with the aim of encouraging a learning and capacity-building process among young people on how to obtain, select and evaluate information in order to become informed users of information; encouraging greater use of the ‘new media’ such as the Internet, mobile phones, video, cinema etc. in youth information in order to reach as many young people as possible”.

The European Youth Information Charter (firstly adopted in 1993) was followed by its revised version in 200419, trying to adapt to the changing environment of young people. The guidelines of the charter “constitute a basis for minimum standards and quality measures which should be established in each country as elements of a comprehensive, coherent and co-ordinated approach to youth information work, which is a part of youth policy.” The charter lists 16 principles that could be grouped into four categories: -

information has to be user-tailored and personalized, it should be based on real requirements of young people and should be communicated in a

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way appealing to the young people (including new media and technologies); -

all young people should have free and easily accessible information and counselling services;


information provided to the young people should be complete, up-todate, accurate, objective, unbiased and independent of any religious, political, ideological and commercial influence;


all elements in the youth information and counselling network should closely cooperate with other youth services and structures.

Shortly after the revised European Youth Information Charter was adopted EYRICA recognised a need for defining criteria for assessment of the national youth information policies. As a result, ERYICA member organisations formulated a set of 12 indicators for the assessment of national youth information policies in 2005 (Indicators for a National Youth Information Policy20) 1. Governmental Role – the Government should consider youth as an important and inherent policy task , for which it needs to develop a national policy (or strategy) that seeks to develop a comprehensive, coherent and co-ordinated approach. 2. Youth Information Legislation – the provision of youth information services should have a legal basis in the relevant youth legislation. 3. Stable Funding and Staffing – youth information services should be adequately funded and staffed, on the basis of an annual (or pluriannual) work-plan and budget. 4. Equal Access for All – youth Information service should be accessible to all young people.



5. Regional and Local Dimension – the national youth information policy (or strategy) should have a regional and local dimension in order for youth information services to reach a maximum number of young people. Regional and local authorities should be actively involved in supporting the provision of youth information. 6. Scientific Research and Expertise – a youth information policy (or strategy) should be based on a sound knowledge of the information needs and expectations of young people. 7. Innovation – youth information policy and services should promote innovation and encourage reflection by youth information workers and by young people on how to develop creative ways of meeting already recognised and new needs and challenges. 8. Participation of Young People – promoting the active participation of young people in youth information work should be an important element of the youth information policy (or strategy). 9. Cross-Sectoral Co-operation – a comprehensive and coherent youth information policy will require consultations and cooperation between a wide range of actors, including governmental departments, official youth services, voluntary youth organisations and young people in general. 10. Quality of Services – a youth information policy (or strategy) should include measures to maintain and develop the quality of the youth information and counselling services provided to young people. 11. Training – a basic and continued training of youth information workers should be a priority component of a national youth information policy. 12. Diversity in the Delivery of Information – synergy of traditional and new media and technologies in bringing relevant information to young people should be met.

The next ERYICA’s undertaking was to create a “real life” toolkit for decision makers and NGOs interested in the field of Youth, when the Information


Starter’s Kit


was published (2009). This toolkit took a coherent and

comprehensive approach through its “Guide to safety and quality online tool kit for youth information workers” (2011), where ERYICA


builds upon 23

experiences and practices gathered in the ERYICA YIntro-Manual and calls to follow CRAP recommendation. In other words, information should be: C – Clear (quality information is clear information); R – Relevant (relevant to the needs of young people); A – Accurate (clear, straightforward and appropriate to the real needs) and P – Pitched (suits the needs and abilities of young people).

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In 2005 Neil Selwyn wrote a study “Young people and their information needs in the context of the information society” 24, which gave an in-depth summary of the main arguments that should be taken into consideration when providing youth information and counselling. “As such there are a number of issues which should be prioritised within current debates concerning youth, information and contemporary society. Young people’s engagement with digital information should be equitable and empowering. Digital information should be engaging - both in terms of capturing the initial interest of young people and in terms of being relevant to the information needs of young people. […]Governments, providers and other bodies also need to take a ‘glocal’ approach to the digital information needs of young people - contextualising digital information within local and community identities, practices, modes and contexts of young people’s lives, whilst not losing sight of the potential for more expansive, global applications.” (page 18)

Creative ways of disseminating information most often include online media, where stakeholders, especially the youth workers, have to be aware of online risks and opportunities (the EU Kids Online project25):

Online Opportunities 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.

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Online Risks

Access to global information Educational resources Social networking for old/new friends Entertainment, games and fun User-generated content creation Civic or political participation Privacy for expression of identity

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.

Shared experiences with distant others Illegal content Paedophiles, grooming, strangers Extreme or sexual violence Other harmful or offensive content Racist/hate material/activities Advertising/commercial persuasion


8. Community involvement/activism 9. Technological expertise and literacy 10. Career advancement or employment

8. Misinformation (advice, health) 9. Exploitation of personal information 10. Cyberbullying, stalking, harassment 11. Gambling, financial scams 12. Self-harm (suicide, anorexia, etc) 13. Invasions/abuse of privacy 14. Illegal activities (hacking, downloading)

11. Personal/health/sexual advice 12. Specialist groups 13. Fan forums

As stated in the Principles for Online Youth Information (ERYICA, 2009) 26 : “Internet is a powerful source of information and communication, as well as an integrated part of the social environment of young people. Provision of generalist Youth Information and Counselling online, as well as orientation on the Internet are new tasks, which are complementary to existing Youth Information work. In addition to the role of Youth Information, helping young people find the right information and take their own decisions, Online Youth Information supports them to maximise the benefits of the Internet and minimise its potential risks.” Sixteen principles adopted by ERYICA call for online youth information complementary to existing youth information work, which provides accurate, up to date, verified and free of charge information that address the need of young people in a personalized and empowering way, protecting their anonymity and safety. Such information system should continuously educate both their providers and users, increasing their IT literacy and widening its network. Usage of new technologies is also supported by the Council Recommendation "Youth on the move", which promotes the learning mobility of young people (2011) 27 . The recommendation states that,

in the field of

information and guidance on opportunities for learning mobility, the member countries should ”improve the quality of information and guidance on national, regional and local mobility opportunities and grant availability, targeting specific groups of learners, both within and outside the Union. Member States should

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make use of new, creative and interactive ways to disseminate information, communicate and exchange with young people and all other stakeholders”. 5.








Continuous improvements of the existing policies and their adaptation to the changing realities of young people’s lives underline a need for management of human resources in youth information. Council Resolution on implementing the common objectives on the youth information (2005) 28 pointed at a need of “continuous training of those involved in youth information with regard to content, most suitable methods and use of available technology, so that young people can recognise quality information easily”. Continuous training has to be supported by efficient structure and organisations whose network efficiently follows the existing and propose new strategies in the field of youth information and counselling. After the establishment of ERYICA in 1986, the 1990s brought establishment of several other networks in the field of youth information: the European Youth Card Association 31 .


(EYCA), Eurodesk


and SALTO-

The European Youth Card Association (EYCA) 32 provides

variety of youth-relevant information and gives them possibility to use the European Youth Card – an instrument for obtaining discounts in numerous fields of importance for youth – culture, accommodation, travel, shopping, etc. Eurodesk33 stands as the main provider of information on European policies and opportunities for young people and those who work with them, and coordinates activities related to the European Youth Portal34. Its relevance also

28 30 31 32 33 34 29


streams from its unique position where youth-related information on the national level is matched with corresponding information on the European level. Similar instrument is presented by the SALTO-YOUTH.net35 – a network of 8 Resource Centres established in 2000, working in the field of youth work and training. In 2004 EYCA, Eurodesk and Salto signed a declaration for cooperation, which was followed by several jointly organized events related to the development of youth information and counselling. Another card relevant in this context is the Youth on the Move Card36, whose goal is not to replace nationally accepted cards, but rather to build on and cooperate with these cards, possibly in the form of a label. This label could add real European value by offering more discounts, access to information and online networks, and new features such as smartcard technology to the European youth aged 13-30. Direct funding for activities managed primarily by youth can be accessed through the European Youth Foundation (EYF) 37 , a fund established in 1972 by the Council of Europe to provide financial support for European youth activities. In 40 years (since 1972) it managed to fund more than 300 000 young people, aged between 15 and 30 making nongovernmental youth organisations or networks empowered for achieving their goals. Speaking about the youth non-governmental associations, the European Youth Forum38 also has to be mentioned as an umbrella association of national youth associations or councils, has a prominent role in youth information and counselling through various activities, policy analysis and information materials.

When it comes to mobility, learning mobility presents one of the types of mobility that is strongly supported by the European Commission and the Council of Europe, both at policy and funding-wise level. Therefore, it is 35 37 38 36


important to mention some of the programmes in this field. First of them, the Comenius39 actions, as part of the EU’s Lifelong Learning Programme, grew from the Socrates programme (which ran from 1994-2006) in 1995, with an aim to help young people and educational staff better understand the range of European cultures, languages and values. They also help young people acquire the basic life skills and competences necessary for personal development, future employment and active citizenship. Comenius aims to: I) Improve and increase the mobility of pupils and educational staff across the EU; II) Enhance and increase partnerships between schools in different EU Member States; III) Encourage language learning, innovative ICT-based content, services and better teaching techniques and practices; IV) Enhance the quality and European dimension of teacher training and V) Improve pedagogical approaches and school management. Erasmus 40 became part of the EU's Lifelong Learning Programme in 2007, covering new areas such as student placements in enterprises (transferred from the Leonardo da Vinci Programme), university staff training and teaching for business staff. Erasmus is the perfect example of a European success story: close to 3 million students have participated since it started in 1987, as well as over 300 000 higher education teachers and other staff since 1997 (this type of exchange was also expanded further in 2007). The annual budget is in excess of 450 million euro; more than 4 000 higher education institutions in 33 countries participate, and more are willing to join. Erasmus for students 41 provided a framework for more than 2.5 million students for experiencing international mobility in more than 4 000 higher education institutions in 33 participating countries.

39 41 40


European Skills Passport 42 is one of thirteen actions launched under the Commission's Agenda for New Skills and Jobs 43 , which enables people to improve the presentation of their CVs by bringing together their educational and training certificates in one place, providing evidence for the qualifications and skills declared in the CV. It is available for free in 26 languages on the Europass portal where an on-line editor helps users to create their individual passports. It complements the Europass CV which is used by more than 20 million Europeans.

Study on Mobility Developments in School Education, Vocational Education and Training, Adult Education and Youth Exchanges (2012)44 showed that the Youth in Action45 programme supports annually more than 7000 projects involving about 70000 young people going abroad in the context of a mobility strand. It aims to achieve objectives through five actions (Youth for Europe, European Voluntary Service, Youth in the World, Youth Support Systems and Support for European Co-operation in the Youth Field): 

promote young people’s active citizenship in general and their European citizenship in particular;

develop solidarity and promote tolerance among young people, in particular in order to foster social cohesion in the European Union;

foster mutual understanding between young people in different countries;

contribute to developing the quality of support systems for youth activities and the capabilities of civil society organisations in the youth field;

promote European cooperation in the youth field.

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Before finishing this section we should mention one useful instrument in reaching information on non-formal education, focused on various mobility aspects – the European Platform on Learning Mobility in the youth field 46 (EPLM), established in 2011, as a network for European practitioners, policy makers and researchers. There are also other valuable instruments in youth mobility promotion: 1. Leonardo da Vinci47 is part of the life-long learning programme as well, offering new skills and knowledge gaining for trainees in vocational training to the practitioners in the field; 2. PLOTEUS 48 – the Portal on Learning Opportunities throughout the European Space; 3. Euraxess – Researchers in motion49 targeting researchers through four main actions – “Jobs”, “Rights”, “Services” and “Links”; 4. the Marie Curie website for all Marie Curie Actions50 providing financing opportunities to young researchers; 5. YourEurope51 – providing help and advice in all domains of life; 6. Euroguidance 52 and EURES 53 – portals providing information on jobs and learning opportunities in Europe in all EU-member languages; 7. "We mean business campaign“ for young entrepreneurs54 focused on matching successful European employers and young skilful people with entrepreneurial aspirations. 8. Your first EURES job’s55 that has started in 2012, involving support from national employment services – information, job search, recruitment,

46 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 47


funding – for both young jobseekers and businesses interested in recruiting from outside their home country.



This section will present a couple of good practice examples led by the European networks, two good practice examples in the area of national counselling organisations and several projects in youth information (with an emphasis on general information and counselling and information on mobility). The first example to be mentioned is a seminar “Mobility of young people – Opportunities and obstacles for cross-border volunteering for young people, particularly with fewer opportunities” 56 , organised by the Youth Partnership between the European Commission and the Council of Europe in the Field of Youth57 in 2011. This seminar gathered stakeholders from various areas – from politics and policy to research, youth work and non-governmental sector. They were provided with state of the art in area of youth mobility and related policies, and were given a chance to present their experiences and findings. Another European-wide initiative is a campaign “Information Right Now” 58 !



ERYICA, launched on 17th April 2012 in partnership with the Council of Europe. The campaign aimed to raise awareness among young people, decision makers and media on the special role of youth information in regard to young people’s access to rights and – eventually – on the access to information as a right in itself for all young people. The campaign objectives were: 1. To make young people understand they have the right to information. 2. To make young people understand they have a right to information and move them to find it in the Youth Information Centre. 3. Together with young people, ask decision makers to guarantee their right to information

56 58 59 57


Next come two examples of good practice on the level of national youth information associations, presenting one of the pioneering country in youth information and counselling – Finland,

and Bosnia and Herzegovina as a

candidate country for the EU enlargement.

On the basis of information provided by the Euroguidance Finland: Innovative guidance methods to support mobility 60 , establishing the nation-wide youth information and counselling centres is

reinforced by the Youth Act, which

emphasizes youth information as one of the basic elements of municipal youth work services in Finland. In 2006 the Finnish organisations engaged in youth information and counselling, with an aim to create equal opportunities locally and regionally for all young people started to build national system based on the info centres, info points, web services, phone services and face-to-face work, and in accordance with European Youth Information Charter. Implementation of these instruments was extremely successfully and in 2008 already 80% (629.934) of young people aged 13-24 had access to youth information services in their own municipality (covering 250 municipalities). These youth information centres are customer-oriented, cross-cutting and easily accessible and all services are provided from one place. In Bosnia and Herzegovina the youth NGO “Youth Information Agency” (OIA)61, run by young people themselves, in a form of non-governmental association, presents the most prominent stakeholder in the field of youth information and counselling. They are focused on empowering young people and changing their mind-set – making them aware of the importance of proactive approach. The main channel of knowledge transfer employed by OIA is peer education. In 12 years of activity it managed to set up several youth information centres, start a

60 61


media (TV and radio) production, and successfully administer the largest noncommercial website for young people in BiH62. Some of the services offered to the youth are: “info desks for youth” (IDeMo!)63, web portal for youth64 and youth mobility portal65. Their newest undertaking is foundation of the Social Innovation Incubator and Open Space for youth, which resulted in 120 info events with more than 2000 participants in eight months since their beginning. They also achieved employment of 30 young people through five start-ups and fifteen young people found a job as employees. This organisation led by youth proves that high goals can be achieved without strong institutional support, and it suggest that even more significant results could be achieved if governmental institutions provide support to such initiatives.

The following are nine examples of good practices implemented in the EU Member States and nine examples from the non-EU Members. All projects are presented in alphabetical order of the country name. Selected examples were identified as those that excelled in one or more criteria: 1) provide information; 2) make young people and/or their wider community aware of youth position and 3) make people more mobile.

“Youth Rights at Work information campaign”


(Albania) organised by the

Albanian Youth Council67 informed at least 3500 young people on their rights at work. The dissemination via electronic media and social network sites68 was accompanied by eight training of trainers in Tirana, Kukes and Shkodra for 212

62 64 65 66 67 68!/groups/punesimirinor/ 63


teachers, social workers, trade union members, young leaders and youth activists. “Youth info point“ 69 (Bosnia and Herzegovina) offers a list of all information services and data sources available in Bosnian municipalities, provided via interactive online map to youth. Since the content was created by young people, the data sources and services are easily accessible and categorised in groups that are clear and appealing to the youth. “Travel to Europe in 2013”70 (Bosnia and Herzegovina) started by the Youth Mobility Portal71 in 2008 on an annual basis provides 25 university students with travel grants in Europe for 22 days. Informed – Included (Croatia) 72 connected 16 young beneficiaries of Youth Information Centres from Malta and Croatia, with the purpose of exchanging experiences, thoughts and expectations on youth information and social inclusion. "Mobility, information and counselling of youth"73 (Croatia) was coordinated by the Community of youth info centres 74 , with an aim of improving youth information and mobility through awareness raising campaigns and a survey on 1200 youth. Insightful results of the survey on youth experiences, values and needs were followed by public consultations that gathered 40 participants (30 young people 10 youth workers) per region (total number of 160).

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Dialogue in youth policy 75 (Finland) is a project run by the Government of Finland, which seeks to develop a tripartite model of dialogue in youth policy between decision-makers, youth work (including youth workers, young people and youth organisations) and youth researchers. Video Series 76 (France) increased the visibility of youth Information services across France by obtaining wide media coverage and promotion at regional and local level. It was started by CIDJ – Centre d'information et de documentation jeunesse in November 2012, and it managed to attract 731 viewers of the content aimed at youth information and inclusion in six months.

Improving Intercultural Training for AFS Exchange Program Participants and European Pathways: a study curriculum in the frame of the bachelor in Social Work77 (Germany) is a project that follows methodology of the Developmental Model of Intercultural Sensitivity78. Their work relies on evaluation of the training provided to the participants of the AFS Exchange program (5000 participants from 2005 to 2010), which improved the training strategy. Postcard Campaign79 (Luxembourg) – was launched by the Youth Information Centre CIJ (Centre Information Jeunes), which produced specially designed postcards in order to distribute them to young people in the streets of Luxembourg City and in Esch-sur-Alzette (with the support of PIJ Esch). This action targeted 1000 young people with an aim to communicate about the right of young people to receive information and to enable young people to write

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down their questions about topics that interest them by sending the postcards (free of charge) back to the Youth Information Centre. “Knowledge and Sports among Young People”80 (Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia), is a youth event coordinated by Youth Information and Counselling Centre INFO, the Youth Council Prilep and Youth Multicultural Community and managed to gather 3000 young people. It ran under the motto “Knowledge and sports among youth”, covering two main actions: leisure activities for youth and dissemination of information on the INFO SEGA youth information centre and services. “Passport to Europe”81 (Kosovo), implemented by the Kosovar Youth Council82, provided youth (aged 14-19) with the conditions and the opportunities to acquire knowledge on the main European institutions. Knowledge acquisition was accompanied by raising awareness of European Integration Process. A book «You are right! A guide trough law and all the rest»83 (Montenegro) was directed at publishing and distributing two editions of the book by NGO Association for Democratic Prosperity – Zid84. This book was designed as a reliable and attractive guide in what young people (and media, NGOs, public institutions, schools, etc.) can find interesting in areas of education, employment, family life, housing, finances, health, safety, state and politics, judiciary, minority, mobility and leisure time.

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Xplore programme85 (The Netherlands) was jointly coordinated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands and the Netherlands Youth Institute – Nederlands Jeugdinstituut. It aimed at involving young people (especially young people with lower educational qualifications) in developing cooperation projects using exchanges and voluntary work as a tool. This project reached 7000 participants (5200 were targeted), while 1.3 million people were reached through dissemination activities (700000 were targeted) in a 2005-2009 period. Despite budget reductions, and thanks to successful results, the programme will continue until 2014, Young Scot86 Rewards87 (Scotland, United Kingdom) is an online platform that offers volunteering, writing for the Young Scot website, using local library and information facilities, taking part in a focus group or participating in opportunities around sport, health, arts and the environment. By taking part in these activities offered by a range of cross sector partners – through Young Scot Rewards – young people are able to earn points by taking part in a variety of activities. Over 6000 young people have registered and started to collect Reward points since the launch in November 2011, while the total number of cardholders is 460,000. The National Youth Information Framework88 (Scotland, UK) was launched in 2011 by Young Scot in partnership with the Scottish Library and Information Council and the Scottish Government. This Framework targets all organisations and professionals who are involved in developing and providing information for

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and with young people, with an aim to bring organisations and professionals together in providing a more effective service for young people. My Town, My Europe89 (Spain) gathered 20 active participants and a lot of other young people in sharing personal experiences and values among young people through creation of videos. They were given an opportunity to check the importance of being European and the possibilities they have thanks to the European diversity and richness. As a result, the participants had the opportunity to broaden their perspectives by challenging their attitudes towards people from different cultures and regions. “Redes de Jóvenes”90 (Spain) project invited young people to add themselves as the Messenger contact of the Youth Centre. Messenger does not serve only as a channel for sending and receiving messages but also as a tool for active participation of users in creation of the contents offered by the Youth Centre. TV show „I want you to know“91 (Serbia) is coordinated by the Youth Office92 in Belgrade and performed at the "Studio B" TV. It started in 2010, with a goal of informing and educating young people through entertaining content, covering wide area of topics relevant to youth – from education, training, employment, volunteering, and mobility, ecology to promotion of young talented experts, artists and scientists.

Concluding remarks in this section can be based on considerations on stakeholders and types of projects in the field of youth information. First of all, we can notice that support from the governmental organisations most often results in the actions of a broader scope. Second conclusion goes with 89 91 92 90


beneficial employment of international networks and funds. And at the end, there has to be noted that countries whose youth information services have just started their integration into the European policies and practices in this field (like the SEE countries) mostly focus on information campaigns aiming to inform young people on their basic rights, while the organisations from the EU Member Countries often take different approach – art performances for instance.

Good practice examples gave us insights into various practices in youth information and mobility at national level. Next section will present some studies based on aspiration to identify European trends in youth information and mobility.


ERYICA conducted a survey on youth information needs by organising focus groups throughout its European network of Youth Information Centres (YIC) in 2010 and 2011, presenting them in the Annual Report 2011 93 . This survey showed that the priority of information needs of young people is supported by the actual offer of YIC: education and training, youth mobility, housing and health. Despite the fact that this was a non-representative focus group, interesting conclusions can be drawn. We found out that the information needs of teenagers aged 13-16 mostly gather around topics related to school and studies and social networks, whereas the age group of 16-19 is more concerned about career and jobs and new technologies. Although the most evident source of information for young people aged 13-25 is the Internet, young people still seek personal and professional contact for in-depth inquiries



and individualised treatment when interested in education, career path or health.

Majority of European youth agendas promote youth mobility as a crucial instrument in individual and societal progress, but according to some studies, youth mobility is rather an exception than a rule. The Conclusions of the Council on youth mobility (2008)94 stresses that mobility is “still unevenly distributed, depending on types of training and sectors, study subjects, countries and social background, as a result in particular of lack of information, funding problems and insufficient recognition of periods of study abroad in courses. Mobility continues to be insufficiently known, owing to the lack of good quality information and of reliable and comparable statistics outside the framework of Community programmes”. This conclusion is supported by the results of the Flash Eurobarometer 319b ‘Youth on the Move’ (2011)95, showing that the vast majority of respondents reported never to have stayed abroad for learning or training purposes – only 13.5 % of them in the entire sample and 15.4 % at the EU level studied in another country. Percentages at national level vary greatly – from 41.3% of the respondents from Luxembourg, to Bulgaria, Romania and the United Kingdom where less than 10% of the respondents went abroad for learning purposes. Moreover, in Greece, Ireland, Cyprus and Luxembourg there is more than 67% of respondents who studied abroad as a part of their higher education, while in Belgium, the Czech Republic, Germany, Austria and Sweden more than 50 % of respondents had studied outside their country at the secondary level of education. Since it is evident that university students are the most mobile members of young generation, it is interesting to check their opinion on the quality of youth information. Erasmus Student Network survey: "Information for Exchange: Provision and Quality” (2009)96 shows that students

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evaluate the sufficiency of information available from their home university prior to their studies abroad on average as 3.27, while satisfaction with information provided by the host university is on 3.77. It seems that Internet is less used for information on educational mobility among students, most of them learn about educational opportunities from their peers (43.7%), followed by those who heard about them from people working in institutions included in international relations and education (19.9 %) and those whose teachers proved to be helpful (15.8 %). Only smaller share of Erasmus grantees used Internet (7%) or student organisations (2%) as their primary source of information.

Flash Eurobarometer 319b “Youth on the Move” shows that employment driven mobility is less prominent among young people – only 9% of respondents reported to have stayed abroad for work related purposes, while only 2% were volunteering abroad and 77% have never stayed abroad. Young people from Ireland and Iceland are the most mobile in this respect – almost 40% of them have an experience of working abroad, while this kind of mobility is the least present among young people in the Netherlands (14%), Italy (12%) and Turkey (5%). When listing the reasons of their immobility, young people are inclined to “lack of interest” (28%), “lack of funding” (20%), family commitments (12%), “lack of information” (6%) and “lack of foreign language skills” (5%). However, recent economic crisis has forced young people to be more mobile when seeking employment. EU Youth Report 201297 in its chapter on mobility reveals that between 2010 and 2011 outgoing migration increased by an average of 45% from southern EU Member States – by 52 % from Spain and by 90 % from Greece. Sadly for their homeland economies, the majority of migrants were well educated young people with qualifications in the tertiary sector.

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Following “Youth on the Move”98 initiative, a survey on the Youth on the Move card initiative was conducted in 201199. Youth on the Move, as one of the seven flagship initiatives, aims to support the priorities of the Europe 2020 Strategy, while raising "the overall quality of all levels of education and training in the EU, combining both excellence and equity, by promoting student mobility and trainees' mobility, and improve the employment situation of young people". The online survey, supported by Eurodesk, Erasmus Student Network, European universities and the EU representations in the EU Member States and EU delegations, received 3027 online responses. Additionally, several stakeholders submitted position papers in response to the survey. It can be sad that the survey was successful as 91.5% of all respondents are younger than 30 years, with majority respondents in 19-26 cohort. A need for youth card was strongly pronounced by the results – almost 92% of all respondents indicated they have had a student or youth card (mostly more than 1 card) at one point in their lives. Moreover, 75% holds opinion that a student/youth card definitely supports the mobility of young people.

In 2010 the European Commission coordinated consultations on youth mobility, publishing the Youth on the Move Results of the consultation on the Green Paper on the Learning Mobility of Young People100. Summarising answers to the question: “How can the availability of information and guidance related to mobility be improved?”, the Commission concluded that: “There is consensus among all respondent types regarding the need to improve the quality of information and guidance related to mobility. Information was named as the most important issue related to mobility by the online respondents: 77% see it as important or very important. Effective, clear and transparent information

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requires, however, the precise definition of potential target groups eligible for mobility. The need for more creative ways and forms to disperse information for example was recognised, e.g. through the use of social platforms, clubs, youth organisations, rock concerts and public spaces highly frequented by young people”. 8. CONCLUSION: TOWARDS INFOMOBILITY SERVICE AS MEANS OF CLOSING THE GAPS BETWEEN STATE-OF-THE-ART AND EUROPEAN POLICY IN YOUTH INFORMING AND MOBILITY

The most important issues in the area of youth information and counselling can be grouped in seven areas: 1. limited outreach – limited awareness of young people on existence of the youth information centres and/or their services; 2. lack of interest of young people to approach youth information services in a case of need; 3. personal traits or position of individuals that make them vulnerable or ashamed or their situation and therefore hesitant to ask for help; 4. lack of funding that could provide long-term sustainability; 5. lack of support from local, regional or national government; 6. lack of expertise among workers at the youth information centres; 7. lack of insight into youth standpoint and their aspirations and needs.

On the other hand, there are some positive elements that can be found at the European level: 1. existence of the youth information centres in majority of the European countries; 2. European policy guidelines and good practice examples that could serve as a “cookbook” when establishing or revising youth information centres;


3. long tradition of youth information and counselling, with expertise that is shared via various networks; 4. support structures, such as ERYICA, EYCA and European funding schemes.

At the current stage of youth information and counselling development Europe needs interconnection of current policies, practices and stakeholders. A critical amount of efficient elements and stable structures has been achieved and they have to be merged in a way that supports current good practice examples to furtherly excel and to enable current low-achievers to catch-up and develop efficient systems. The Youth on the Move – InfoMobility (YoMIM) project101 with “the overarching goal […] to innovate and to enhance youth work whilst fostering synergies between the main actors in the field of youth information and counselling, paying special regard to cross-border European mobility”102, is the kind of project that will enhance interconnection at the European level.

YoMIM project, divided into three stages: 1) Establishment of Youth on the Move – InfoMobility (YoMIM) network; 2) Elaboration of quality standards and guidelines for youth information practice in the field of youth mobility: EURYICA and 3) Design and provision of training for the YoMIM officers and enhancement of the existing training offer, aims at “mutual understanding between young people in different European countries through connecting and pooling peers active in youth information work at local level and by striving to providing information and guidance on opportunities of social and professional engagement in the host country”, and “to increase and maximise the impact of

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existing youth support structures in the field of youth information, a transversal youth work tool whose poignant role has been recognised in the “Youth in Action” programme and in the “Renewed Framework of Cooperation in the Youth Field”. The ultimate goal of the project is to enable young people, regardless their education, social background, country of residence or any other feature, to feel “home away from home”, thus enabling them to be self-fulfilled, happy and productive members of European society.

June 22nd 2013 Dunja Potočnik,


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