The OeAD has grown in 2021: Two EU programmes – Erasmus+ Youth and the European Solidarity Corps (ESC) – and a SALTO Resource Centre supporting the non-formal youth sector became part of the OeAD in 2021.
The informal and non-formal sectors include all young people and youth-related activities (education, counselling and support services) that are not associated with educational institutions (i.e. the formal education sector). This sector is characterised by being particularly low-threshold and diverse in its work, target groups and methods. There is no “compulsory attendance” at youth centres, no further education obligations for professionals in youth work (associations, social workers, street workers and recreational teachers, group supervisors, etc.) and no compulsion to carry out projects as informal groups or to travel abroad as volunteers – yet all this has been done by more and more young people and practitioners for more than 30 years.
The OeAD manages and promotes the two programmes that make all this possible – Erasmus+ Youth and the European Solidarity Corps (ESC) – and develops them further at European level with the SALTO RC.
The international youth sector
In the last few years the work for Erasmus+ Youth in Action and the European Solidarity Corps has gained a firm foothold in Austria in the area of European youth policy and international youth work. Together with partner organisations such as the Federal Youth Council (BJV) the Federal Network for Open Youth Work (bOJA) and the Federal Network Austrian Youth Info (BÖJI) efforts have been made to make the youth topic more visible in European and Austrian politics.
The European Youth Goals, which have found their way into the Austrian Youth Strategy, the European Youth Work Charter, and broad, inexpensive information and further education offers for professionals in the youth sector are just a few examples of how this broad youth policy mandate is implemented.
Solidarity and inclusion
A central aspect of the EU youth programmes (Erasmus+ Youth and ESC) is solidarity. Experiencing European values together and standing up for each other are important principles of the programmes. Regarding the European Solidarity Corps the name already says what the programme is all about: In solidarity projects young people between 18 and 30 years of age can implement projects in groups of at least five people in their own environment – their own community, neighbourhood, etc. Up to 6,000 euros are available for such projects running for 12 months. In both programmes and all funding schemes within them the goal is to make Europe a tangible experience for everyone – regardless of social, economic, physical or other background.
These aspects – inclusion and participation in the programmes regardless of the participants’ origin or circumstances – are elementary components of the programmes and are therefore also particularly supported and promoted in the youth programmes. Reports of young people who participated in the programme testify to this:
“Before I started volunteering solidarity was a term that had negative connotations for me because I was excluded from social activities due to my disability. But thanks to my volunteering and an environment full of supportive, friendly volunteers my opinion changed completely. When I think of solidarity now I remember the activities I participated in and cherish those moments with all my heart.”
(Esin, volunteer from Turkey in Austria)
These project videos will give an insight into what these projects can look like:
Author: Christian Steiner, Erasmus+ Youth and European Solidarity Corps