On Tuesday, December 7, 2021, in the Science and Technology Park Niš, the third Youth Dialogue with the Prime Minister of the Republic of Serbia, Ana Brnabić, was held and organized by the National Youth Council of Serbia (KOMS.)
At the Dialogue, representatives of youth associations and representatives of KOMS discussed with the Prime Minister of the Republic of Serbia, Ana Brnabić, and the Minister of Labor, Employment, Veterans and Social Affairs, Darija Kisić-Tepavčević, and the State Secretary of the Ministry of Youth and Sports, Milan Savić about important topics for position of young people in Serbia.
Following the previous Youth Dialogue with the Prime Minister, held in February this year, the young people met at the Dialogue to discuss topics in the area of:
– Amendments to the Law on Youth
– drafting the National Strategy for Youth for the period 2022 – 2030
– drafting a law on work practices
– amendments to the Law on Volunteering
At the very beginning of the Dialogue, the Prime Minister referred to the previous dialogues and said: “It seems to me that we have a lot of things together. I think that the biggest and most important thing is that we have initiated this continuous dialogue and that it is not only so regular, but that between these meetings we really work on a daily basis between my cabinet and the KOMS. ” She then singled out some of the results of previous Dialogues, such as the My First Salary program, and announced that additional tax breaks for young people in their first job would be introduced from January 1st 2022.
Afterwards, the young participants in the Dialogue pointed out some of the important problems that young people in Serbia face, asked questions and proposed concrete measures to solve these problems.
Amendments to the Law on Youth
Within this thematic area, recommendations were made on the need for youth policy instruments: an adequate budget for youth and youth activities, a plan for how young people are involved and that there are adequate advisory bodies where relevant young people will sit – that there are binding mechanisms for youth participation, to strengthen and concretize the existing ones and to introduce some new ones.
The question that was asked was whether there is a political will to adopt the amended Law on Youth as soon as possible. The issue, ie the proposal, on the legal recognition of the profession of youth worker, ie its introduction into the public administration system, was also presented. Proposals for improving the mechanisms of local youth policy and a proposal for informal groups to be recognized in the Law on Youth were also presented. The problem of space for young people was presented and on that occasion it was said that in every municipality there are public spaces that should be put in the function of young people, to be constantly available to them. It was pointed out that it is necessary to increase the funds intended for young people for the development of youth policy, and mentioned that 0.08% of the allocation of funds from the budget is not enough. The proposal of the program instead of project financing and the improvement of the Rulebook on financing and the necessity of making the processes of allocating funds transparent are also stated. The proposal on the introduction of responsible youth budgeting was also stated.
Then, the State Secretary of the Ministry of Youth and Sports, Milan Savić, said that answers to the written proposals would arrive by the end of the week, which Minister Udovicic, during the Dialogue of Youth with the Minister of Youth and Sports, asked to be submitted. In the context of recognizing the profession of youth worker in the Law on Youth, he said that the Ministry’s plan is to recognize youth work in the Law on Youth, and that more detailed regulation of standardization of youth work will be defined by the National Youth Strategy. In the context of establishing mandatory local youth councils, he said he agreed with the minister Udovicic and that they, as the Ministry of Youth and Sports, support the establishment of youth councils, local youth offices, local action plans, but that only the establishment of local youth councils is not within the Ministry youth and sports, but that it is under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of State Administration and Local Self-Government. He said that the Ministry supports youth responsible budgeting and that it is a cross-sectoral topic.
Then the space was left for the Prime Minister to respond to the proposals and problems, and she first asked the young people present if they were satisfied with the working group for amendments to the Law on Youth, to which the answer was that the problem was that they met only once, as well as the fact that the working hours were limited, the fact that they did not have all the information and it was said that the working group for drafting the National Strategy for Youth is working more actively. The Prime Minister answered that the draft law should be written jointly and promised that the process would be accelerated, so that it would be completed in the mandate of this government, ie the convocation of the National Assembly.
She then said that her idea was to make an institutional dialogue, such as the one that took place, and called for meetings or dialogues to be just a “cross-section” of what has been done so far, and once again said that continuous communication is conducted on a daily basis. She also suggested that the KOMS could be involved in the European integration process in the way that the National Convention is involved, so that young people could ask themselves about all important topics. She also reminded about the initiative she gave, that within the National Academy of Public Administration, youth organizations educate representatives of local self-governments on what needs to be done. She pointed out that it was important, saying that it was a direct mechanism of communication with local self-governments, with mayors, representatives of municipalities and called for that mechanism to be used as much as possible. She also cited the example of student professional practice, as an institutional mechanism introduced with the aim of developing strategic public administration. She called for other initiatives to be proposed if are needed.
Drafting the National Youth Strategy (2022 – 2030): What are the priorities of young people for the new National Youth Strategy?
In this part, young people referred to the importance of the way young people are reported in the media and their presence in bodies such as the Council of the Regulatory Body for Electronic Media, so that they can have an impact and create content for young people. The importance of the visibility of vulnerable groups of young people and the proposed quota as positive discrimination was also emphasized, as well as the necessity of providing support to non-formal education by institutions. A proposal on the introduction of youth responsible budgeting was also presented, as well as a proposal on the involvement of young people and experts who are not employed in the Ministry of Youth and Sports in the process of external evaluation of the National Youth Strategy.
The Prime Minister said that the deadline set for submitting comments on the latest Draft National Strategy for Youth will be extended, emphasizing that the Strategy should not be adopted without young people having time to comment on it. She said that it should be seen to be adopted by mid-January, and by then everything necessary should be taken to make that happen. In the context of informing young people, she cited a section on the eGovernment website entitled “Opportunities and Opportunities for Youth”, and in the context of reporting on youth in the media, she concluded that young people themselves can have a much greater impact. She suggested that the public service (RTS) and KOMS have a joint meeting for that purpose. In the context of the introduction of mandatory youth councils, she said that in that case it could rightly be objected that the state is further centralized, because, as she said, whatever is introduced at the local government level, in that case more one degree of centralization. “Usually we are accused of centralizing the state too much, that it must be more decentralized so that local governments themselves can, in their own way, as they suit their residents, provide services and respond to their needs.” She also made a proposal that the KOMS could be in communication with the Standing Conference of Cities and Municipalities, and that something be done in that way, because that is a way for local governments to do something more. She also pointed out the National Academy of Public Administration and said that this was the first time that young people had the opportunity to train local governments on how to treat young people. She said that it is not a problem to introduce another control system, that after those trainings, young people evaluate the quality of whether something has been done or not. She said she thinks many things have been done and many more things need to be done. She also pointed out that there must be no answer in the state administration that someone is not in charge of something.
Draft of Law on Work Practices and Amendments to the Law on Volunteering
In this area, young participants expressed the need for a legislative framework to regulate work practices, to avoid the possibility of abuse of trainees, and that their rights must be protected through the existence of inspections of the implementation of the law on work practice. The proposal is also presented and the elements necessary for the quality of internships are stated, namely that the internship contract be concluded in writing, that the goals of learning and training be clearly defined, that there are adequate working conditions, that there is a limited duration of internship, to have a certificate of practice and transparency.
In the context of the Law on Volunteering, the need for records, ie the introduction of digital records (e-records) of volunteers, in order to take into account the number of realized volunteer hours, and also proposed the introduction of awards to the best volunteers and volunteer organizers on an annual basis, as well as a proposal for cross-sectoral cooperation between institutions. The question was also raised about when an invitation to a meeting of the working group for internships can be expected. This part of the recommendations and questions was directed to the Minister of Labor, Employment, Veterans’ Affairs and Social Affairs, Darija Kisić Tepavčević. She praised the course of the Dialogue and then said that it was important to promote volunteering and that the annual awarding of the best volunteers would be a good proposal, as well as a proposal for cross-sectoral cooperation between relevant institutions.
Uroš Savić Kain, President of the Governing Board of KOMS, addressed the end of the Dialogue and on that occasion once again emphasized the most important conclusions of the Dialogue and presented the views of the KOMS.
He reminded that the continuity of youth involvement, sustainability and quality of youth participation mechanisms, as well as the number and diversity of opportunities for young people directly depend on the amount of funds allocated to youth and youth policy development, and that public authorities are expected to recognize increase funding for young people, and their optimal use through program funding (rather than project) of youth associations and youth, and their umbrella alliance, which would lead to the sustainability of services and opportunities for young people.
He stated that it is also important that the education of young people is harmonized with the requirements of the labor market and that it is important to recognize the benefits of activities such as volunteering, through which young people acquire skills and knowledge that help them choose and do future work.
He also pointed out the importance of including all young people in Serbia in social flows, especially those who are marginalized, and that for that reason must be established spaces for young people that would be intended for all young people, regardless of place of residence, socio-economic status etc.
He mentioned one of the topics that young people recognized as important, according to the Alternative Report on the Position and Needs of Youth in Republic of Serbia, and that is environmental protection. On this occasion, he said that KOMS believes that a large number of young people who peacefully explore their dissatisfaction with the state of the environment in Serbia, in itself shows the importance of this topic for dialogue with decision makers, to find the best solution to this problem. On this occasion, he called for more space to be given to this topic and to show that there is no social problem that cannot be solved when we think and act together. “I hope that we will continue to build trust between young people and institutions on the basis of past dialogues and that you will show us with your actions that the youth of this country are your priority” he concluded.
In the end, the Prime Minister said that she accepted the invitation regarding the topic of environmental protection, saying that she thought it was an extremely important topic. “I saw the support of the KOMS for environmental protests and I would like to talk about it because I am sincerely proud of all that we have initiated and done in the field of environmental protection and environmental protection. () I think this is a topic that naturally concerns young people, but of course it is also a topic that is extremely important for all of us. I would like us not to wait 7 months, 8 months, a year, but to talk about this in a couple of weeks. I would like to present to you as young people everything that we have done and to hear what you think about all this and what we can do in that area as well. (…) Thank you very much for all this today, on everything we have heard, I can only promise that we will continue to work on the things we have agreed on, and above all on the strategy and laws we are working on at the moment. ”
The Youth Dialogue with the Prime Minister 3.0 was realized with the support of the European Union, with the aim of promoting a culture of dialogue and empowering young people to improve their position and the position of young people in the communities in which they live.
The project Youth in Government – Dialogue of Youth and Public Authorities is implemented within the project of the Belgrade Open School “Dialogue for Change”, with the financial support of the European Union. The content of this page does not necessarily reflect the views of donors or the Belgrade Open School, and the National Youth Council of Serbia is responsible for it.