Youth led solutions for youth problems

Blog post by Ana Dautovic and Jelena Miljanic, October 2013
Let’s consider the reality in Montenegro: 45 percent of young people between 15 and 24 are unemplyed (in the total active population, for the last quarter of 2012, according to the National Statistic Agency). This is much higher than the national average of 19.7 percent in 2010.
Only one third of young people are informed about institutions or organizations that deal with youth issues. At the same time, more than half of young people believe that relevant public institutions do not support them adequately in finding jobs.
  • 55 percent of young people would prefer to work in public sector (because of “job security”) and only nine percent in private sector.
  • 61 percent of young people would rather work for themselves, but only four percent of them take concrete steps in that direction. The main barrier is lack of financial resources.
  • 54 percent of young people believe that no matter how hard they try, it’s not possible to influence important decisions about social issues.
  • Less than one fifth (18 percent) of young people support themselves, without help from their parents.
Employment is recognized as a top priority for people in Montenegro, especially for young people: 61 percent of young people who provided feedback to Post-2015 national consultations identified unemployment as the most important issue.
Another important conclusion from post 2015 consultations in the country, the Survey on youth employment and participation and Analysis of strategic, legal and institutional framework concerning youth, all carried out in 2013 is this: Citizens in Montenegro, including young people, are willing to help solve the problems they are facing.
More than 90 percent of young people believe that their opinion should be taken into consideration when making decisions at all levels! We agree.
Who is a better expert about problems facing young people than young people? That’s why the United Nations and national partners are trying out a different approach – the idea is to apply user-led design so that young people come up with solutions to problems facing young people.
We want to try something like what the National Health Service in the UK is currently doing, organizing a huge conference for doctors to learn from patients. I think this a first!
We want the same thing here – we want to learn from young people and citizens. The project is being implemented simultaneously with the joint UN Programme on Youth Empowerment – with much needed involvement of key national institutions, the NGO sector and the private sector.
Anyone is welcome to join. And it’s simple. We’re still putting the final touches, but people will be able to register on the post 2015 national consultations website and join discussions on challenges, such as:
  • How can we overcome barriers to youth entrepreneurship?
  • How can we equip young people with necessary skills and opportunities for finding a job?
  • How can we best link youth with national institutions dealing with youth related issues?
The development and refinement of the ideas will be facilitated by platform administrators and mentors, who will be from youth civil society, national institutions and the United Nations. Depending on the challenge, the mentor could be a private company as well.
Together, we will explore these issues (and hopefully others!), and identify solutions to help young people open new doors, move into employment and give them a chance to actively participate in designing solutions to their problems.
Given that 57 percent of young people primarily use internet for information purposesand this number keeps growing, the platform can directly reach more than half of young Montenegrins. And we have plans to talk face to face with young people – particularly those from vulnerable populations – who don’t have access to the Internet, so that they are also included.
The idea is that policy makers, local governments and other institutions will use these ideas to shape any future policies and plans concerning the participation, engagement and employment of young people.
We also want to take the best ideas, and test them out. Once project ideas are identified, an open call to youth non-formal groups and organizations will be made, so that they can apply with project proposals that they’ll also carry out.
We hope this will reduce the gap in communication between young people and policy makers and service providers, and encourage young people to become more involved in decision-making and taking charge of their own futures.
But above all, we hope that we end up with some great ideas that will be used for changing existing policies and creating new and more youth friendly ones!
If you have experience with similar initiatives, please share your tips and tricks. We would like to learn how to:
  • Involve the private sector in the best possible way
  • Make the initiative sustainable
  • Ensure meaningful youth participation in the online consultations
We hope to hear from you!
Ana Dautović
UN Coordination Analyst
UN Coordination Office, Montenegro
........Jelena Miljanić
Joint UN Youth Empowerment
Programme Coordinator

UN Coordination Office, Montenegro