In 2011, the central topic of youth monitoring is the participation of young people in youth work activities. The analysis is based on a survey that gathered information about participation in youth work activities from people aged 10–26.
Based on the results, it is argued that Estonian youth makes active use of youth work opportunities. Only 10% didn’t participate in any activites, while 50% of 10-18 olds participated in more than three activities.
Figure 1. Distribution of the youth according to the involvement in youth work during the last 3 years, %
The participation in hobby activities compared to other areas is very large, with sport, art and music being the most prevalent. At the same time, participation in activites related to technology, natural sciences and entrepreneurship is low, because there are limited options due to lack of tools and tutors. Since knowledge-based economy and innovation are valued in Estonia, more young people should be engaged with these fields. In order get more young people into these fields, more regular hobby activities are needed alongside the dominantly project-based approach.
Figure 2. Distribution of the youth with different home languages among hobby activities, % of all involved in hobby activites
One of the main reasons for not participating in youth work is shortage of information and suitable activities. The problem of shortage of information could be overcome by using channels for reaching youth, such as communication from youth to youth.
8% of parents cannot afford participating in paid acitivites for their children. Overcoming financial challenges would recuire a target group or case based approach in order to help children who are stopped from participating for socio-economic reasons.
Figure 3. Does your family’s economic situation allow for providing participation in instructed activities according to your children’s wishes?
While the youth have adequate opportunities for participation in youth work, the question remains of how well the opportunities reflect the needs and interests of youth and society. The goals of youth work should be more strongly bound to other policy areas necessary for the development of modern democratic welfare societies, such as education, employment, civic activity and participation.
The hobby chosen in one’s youth carries over to adulthood. If we wish for more active and creative citizens, we should foster the youth’s participation in youth work. More opportunities for engaging in technology, natural sciences and entrepreneurship should be created, because knowledge in these fields is necessary for innovation and knowledge-based economy. The opportunities for activities could be broadened with support from the state and municipal government. Involving parents and entrepreneurs with relevant skills as instructors is an example of how citizen initiative might improve the situation.