Fields of Action
4 fields of action are important for the Austrian Youth Strategy:
- Employment and Learning
- Participation and Initiative
- Quality of Life and a Spirit of Cooperation
- Media and Information
The Federal Chancellery considers itself to be the impetus behind this initiative. The implementation of these measures is the task and responsibility of those involved in shaping social policy and it must be supported by a broad youth policy consensus.
At the same time, the Federal Chancellery is aware of numerous existing measures – in the area of employment, among others. The Austrian Youth Strategy should therefore offer an additional impetus to shift the focus more strongly toward the perspectives of young people or to incorporate still inactive yet relevant stakeholders.
Employment and Learning
Education secures young people's futures
The widespread prosperity in Austrian society is predicated to a large extent on the skills and qualifications of Austrian workers. Austrian youth policy is therefore geared towards helping young people develop their talents as best they can. High-level qualifications make it possible for young people to meet current and future challenges in the working world and to take advantage of the opportunities presented to them in the best way possible.
The labour market situation for young people in Austria is extremely favourable in comparison to the rest of Europe.
Demographic trends lead to lower numbers of entrants into the vocational education system and therefore also to decreasing numbers of diploma holders. For this reason, the number of people in the employment system is also continually on the decline. Qualified young people are therefore extremely valuable on the labour market.
It is in this context that the Youth Strategy evaluates the employment perspectives and the actual employment situations of young people in Austria, with the goal being full employment among 15 to 24 year-olds. The focus of the recommendations lies on improving vocational and practically oriented learning. This means more opportunities for young people and ensures that Austria will have the qualified workers it needs to face the future.
Participation and Initiative
It pays to take the initiative
A thriving democracy needs ambitious people who want to take the initiative and participate, but it also needs to have the conditions that support this initiative. This is especially the case for young people. They should be able to speak out, offer suggestions and participate in decisions that affect their lives.
With its voting age set at 16 years, Austria is a pioneer in Europe with regard to participatory democracy among young people. Studies have shown that early inclusion in institutionalised participation systems such as elections generally results in a stronger desire to participate in political decision-making processes.
Besides elections, there are numerous forms of participation in Austria, of which only a portion are actually used by young people. It must therefore be clarified whether existing forms of participation truly meet the needs of today’s youth and how barriers to participation can be lowered, especially for groups from disadvantaged backgrounds.
The potential for youth to take the initiative is great: In Austria there is a long and – compared to other European countries – pronounced tradition of volunteering. One-third of young people in Austria participate in some form of voluntary work, an above average number. The recognition of skills acquired from volunteering – via non-formal or informal pathways – by the formal education system or by employers is still in its infancy.
Quality of Life and a Spirit of Cooperation
Let’s work together on the future
Changes in many different areas of life require active planning. Young people must be adequately supported and challenged so that they are ready to assume responsibility for their futures. Austrian youth policy therefore provides young people with the tools they need to live independent and self-reliant lives without being overly intrusive.
Being satisfied with their lives is an important concern for young people. The third international UNICEF comparative overview of child well-being in industrialised countries shows that the life satisfaction of young people in Austria is relatively low. A league table of countries in the study shows Austria in 16th place out of 29 countries with regard to how Austrian girls and boys rate their satisfaction with their own lives. Among rich industrialised countries, Austria comes in at number 18 overall in creating well-being for its youngest citizens (UNICEF 2013).
Youth policy requires a comprehensive evaluation of the objective situation AND the subjective appraisal of young people. This helps clarify which areas require the most immediate attention so that young people can successfully navigate the passage to adult life with the necessary optimism.
Media and Information
To seize the opportunities safely and competently
It is particularly important for youth policy to actively see the digitization of our information society as an opportunity. In many ways, young people are at the forefront of digitization and the acquisition of new technologies and media, such as streaming or social media applications. For this very reason and because of their life phase, young people are also exposed to special risks. With the new field of action “Media and Information”, the Austrian Youth Strategy pays special attention to all those measures aimed at strengthening the media literacy of adolescents, families, youth workers and other educational practitioners. This also includes the positioning of youth policy in the information society and the strengthening of information literacy as well as the provision of youth-oriented and youth-relevant information.
On the part of the division Families and Youth in the Federal Chancellery (BKA), the measures focus on mediating media literacy. The aim of the Media-Youth-Info Centre (MJI) is to develop new media education workshops and seminars for young people, parents and educational professionals. These are then offered in part at the location of the MJI in Vienna, but also and above all in the federal states through and with external organizations. In addition, the MJI works with other institutions and professionals to produce brochures and publications on media literacy.