Klaipeda Youth Forum: discussing youth policy in the Klaipeda region

On November 3rd, 2017 IVY volunteers Domenico Misurelli and Ioana Onisora along with Zofia Makowska, Project Manager at the Regional Council in Kalmar Region, attended the first edition of the Klaipeda Youth Forum. Entitled “Breakthrough in youth policy: is it (un)necessary?”, the forum was held at the Lithuanian Sea Museum and saw the presence of a large number of young participants belonging to several organizations.

As Klaipeda strives for being the European Youth Capital 2020, the forum was a unique chance to discuss relevant topics such as youth policies in Lithuania and the role of youth organizations in youth policy. In this regard, Rita Andrejeva from the Republic of Lithuania Ministry of Social Security and Labour outlined the guidelines and priorities of youth policies, highlighting the need for a more inclusive society by improving the cooperation between public and private sector. The aim is to stimulate youth participation and awareness towards volunteerism addressing, for example, youngsters who live in the streets. As the role of youth organizations proves to be effective in shaping youth policies, Anatanas Mikalauskas from the Lithuanian Youth Council called for a stronger cooperation between them and municipalities. Indeed, youth information centres represent the first point to get information.

Part of the forum was also dedicated to the topic of youth migration. In this regard, Nerijus Miginis, Insitute for Policy Research and Analysis, showed data about young people leaving Klaipeda region and Lithuania: 40% of people aged between 20-29 years old left the country over the last few years. Clearly, the main challenge is to improve the conditions of living for young people and develop an environment able to attract talents. As studies conducted by the institute prove, youngsters want to live in a safe and tolerant place where it’s possible to live according to an alternative lifestyle, an environment with high rates of connectivity and financial stability.

The second part of the meeting was dedicated to the relevance of youth policies with a specific focus on international mobility and opportunities offered by the European Union in the frame of Erasmus + programme. In this respect, Zofia Makowska and Ioana Onisor presented the outcomes of CaSYPoT, a project designed to promote cross-border cooperation through the development of a knowledge-based joint strategy able to tackle youth issues. The surveys carried out over the last year, in the municipalities’schools part of the project, show a rather low rate of interest when it comes to politics, a deeply-rooted mistrust towards politicians and a clear wish to leave. Indeed, despite some differences data emerging from the analysis show trends quite similar in key areas such as education, politics, future, school. Then, Domenico Misurelli presented the importance of Interreg Volunteer Youth activities for youth policy. Being an initiative based on the values of solidarity and cooperation, IVY aims at improving cross-border and trans-national cooperation to stimulate a harmonious development of the EU as well as to provide young volunteers with valuable skills.

Finally, in the evening, youth workers, volunteers and civil servants gathered for the Klaipeda Youth Awards Ceremony, an event planned to award the commitment of people working and volunteering to promote active citizenship and social engagement.