Published: Wednesday, 22.02.2012

Employment of Young People in Care

At the conference “Employment of Young People in Care”, organized by the SOS Children's Village Croatia, Croatian Youth Network and Pragma Association and held today in Novinarski dom, the attendees had the opportunity to take part in the exchange of know-how and experiences regarding the employment of young people in care.

In addition to representatives of aforementioned organizations, other participants in the discussion included experts from the Zagreb University School of Education and Rehabilitation Sciences, Social Work Study Center at the Zagreb University Law School, Croatian Employment Service and Rehabilitation Center for Stress and Trauma. The following representatives of the City of Zagreb, Ministry of Labor and Pension System, Ministry of Social Policy and Youth Affairs and the Croatian Parliament expressed their support by attending: the president of the City Assembly, Davor Bernardić, assistant minister of labor and pension system Tatjana Dalić, assistant minister of social policy and youth affairs Jasna Čurković-Kelava, and parliament representative Sonja König.

The engrossing discussion moderated by Krešimir Makvić, National Advocacy Advisor in SOS Children's Village Croatia, identified a number of problems, but also outlined solutions to the issue that SOS Children's Village Croatia and its partners see as a high priority. Finding a job is a key element in the life of a young person, necessary for becoming an equal and productive member of society. This step is particularly important in the case of young people leaving care, because they usually cannot rely on the support of their biological families. This is why it is imperative to ensure that they have the support of all shareholders in the social welfare system. The goal of this conference was to initiate constructive dialogue about the development of such systemic support.

In her welcoming address, Prof. Mariza Katavić, president of association SOS Children's Village Croatia pointed out: “As we develop and strengthen our way of providing care for children and youth, we also follow and adopt the developments in the field of child and youth rights with the goal of further improving the quality of our care. This is why we initiated the advocacy project “Leaving Care”. We wanted to make sure that all young people in any type of out-of-home care would be able to realize their rights after leaving care and striking out on their own.”

The working part of the conference began with lectures by our partners and conference organizers: Nedjeljko Marković, president of Pragma, presented the paper entitled “Supporting the Young People: Approach to Community Organizing” and Nikola Buković from the Croatian Youth Network presented the paper on “Youth and (un)employment: How to Build Quality Mechanisms for the Inclusion of Young People into the Processes of Employment Policy Development?”. The thematic scope of the conference was expanded by highly regarded experts from our leading institutions: Prof. Nivex Koller-Trbović, from the School of Education and Rehabilitation Sciences in Zagreb, with her paper “Unemployment and Social Exclusion: The Youth Perspective”, Ivana Dobrotić, BSW, from the Social Work Study Center at the Zagreb University Law School, with the paper “European Social Policy and Young People”, Aleksandra Štengl from the Croatian Employment Service with the paper “Young People in the Labor Market” and Dragana Knezić from the Rehabilitation Center for Stress and Trauma with the paper “What do Young People Leaving Care Bring to their Independent Life?” .

In his paper, Pragma president Nedjeljko Marković highlighted the growing social tensions, the issue of individual responsibility and future of social welfare state, and, using the example of Pragma’s work with young people, offered community as an answer to tensions in the society. Marković stressed that the neoliberal model – which hits the unemployed and the young people the hardest – wants to eliminate the welfare state, and lower the degree of social rights. “Such diminishing of rights makes people depend on the market, which means that they are forced to take any job, no matter how demeaning the terms, while privatization of public services produces “new” injustices, widens the gap between people and increases regional differences”, said Marković.
Using the example of the 3-year program “Supporting Young People in the Community: Development of Social Services Designed for Young People” conducted by Pragma under the auspices of the Ministry of Social Policy and Youth Affairs, Marković offered a concept of social justice that connects Social Democratic and Christian Democratic political options in the context of social organization. In its work with young people, Pragma provides counseling and mentoring services, with special emphasis on values of family, education, work, learning, cooperation and solidarity, concluded Marković.

Ivana Dobrotić from the Social Work Study Center pointed out that the process of European integration in its first few decades did not encompass the field of social policy, and that initially, the dominant idea in Europe was that economic progress would simply translate to social progress. Dobrotić stressed that economic growth was not in itself enough to achieve social integration, so in the 1980s, ideas about stronger social dimension started taking toot, with stronger social integration following in the 1990s. “With the first European Youth Strategy at the beginning of the 21st century, EU responded primarily to the unfavorable position of young people in the labor market and increased risk of poverty and social exclusion, as well as delay in starting families. First the emphasis was put on stronger participation of young people in the public sphere, both nationally and in Europe; then on the development of volunteer work, and in the last several years, on initiation of activities in the areas of employment and social inclusion of young people; education, on-the-job training and mobility of young people and coordination of family obligations with paid work”, said Dobrotić. “EU also developed a number of financial instruments, some of which are already available in Croatia – such as Youth in Action, Europe for Citizens, the Lifelong Learning Program, while the European Social Fund, as the main instrument in the area of employment, will become available once we join the EU”, concluded Ivana Dobrotić.


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