Youth information is doing fine. In Europe!
Young people have an absolute right to such advice and to other kinds of it – this is the opinion of the governments of nearly 30 European countries supporting youth information systems. They are based on over 7500 youth information centres operating in accordance with the standards of the European Youth Information and Counselling Agency (ERYICA). They are here to inform, advise and orient. Professional counsellors, dealing with young people and employed by these establishments (not to be confused with career guidance), help those young people who approach them with making the right choices – in the area of education, profession and life. Why are those systems financed by so many countries? For a very simple reason. Because it pays off. Young people’s access to information and counselling reduces the level of unemployment and social exclusion while increasing young people’s mobility and active citizenship.
All that can be learned at regularly organised international seminars on youth information and counselling. The most recent of such seminars was held in Portugal. The Summer University of Youth Information and Counselling (SUYIC) was attended by the best European and African specialists in this field– counsellors, researchers, officials and politicians. Participating in such meetings broadens your horizons, although there is no denying that it also deepens your frustration ever so slightly at the same time.
I felt a pang of envy when I heard how such countries as Croatia or Lithuania had been consistently building youth information systems for some years. They are nowhere near Finland, Scotland or France, where using the services of youth information centres is the order of the day, but they are catching up fast. Croatia’s Youth Ministry has launched 4 big regional youth centres and is planning to create a network on a local level. This is also the case for Lithuania, where the first youth information centre was opened last spring. There are plans for opening nine more. It is Lithuanian youth activists that are the authors of a comprehensive work on youth information systems operating in Europe - Compendium on National Youth Information and Counselling Structures. This is compulsory reading for all those who wish to explore the mysteries of youth information.
Participation in such seminars as SUYIC is also an opportunity to become familiar with the latest research and trends, and learn that, for example, 70% of young people in Europe think that face-to-face consultations with counsellors are second to none, whereas 53% say they have problems with assessing the credibility of texts found on the Internet. I personally think that cooperation deepening between youth information centres, schools and other formal education establishments is the most important trend worth following. But this is an issue for another feature.
Eurodesk Poland Coordinator