Properly functioning local transport, fast internet connections, affordable rents and effective climate change mitigation – changes in all policy fields obviously affect the young generation too. But the impacts on young people are not always the same as they are on other age groups. That is why all ministries have collaborated on the government’s new Youth Strategy. The strategy was adopted by the Cabinet on Tuesday and is designed to raise awareness of youth-policy concerns.
The Youth Strategy focuses on young people and young adults between the ages of 12 and 27. In Germany, this group currently numbers about 14 million, and accounts for 17 per cent of the total population. Statistics indicate that the size of the group is likely to shrink to 12.7 million by 2030, which it is estimated would be equivalent to 15.3 per cent of the total population of the country.
The strategy is based on the belief that youth is a separate phase in our lives in which we face specific challenges, which call for targeted political attention. The strategy aims to involve young people in all decisions that affect them and to offer all young people the best possible conditions to help them master the challenges they face during this phase of their lives.
A working group with representatives from many different ministries identified nine thematic areas, in each of which the Youth Strategy describes the status quo, identifies action required and lists the current total of 163 measures undertaken by all federal ministries. This is intended to improve and expand interministerial cooperation and thus help understand youth policy as a cross-cutting responsibility.
The approaches listed in the strategy either address young people directly or improve the framework for ensuring a society that takes account of the needs and concerns of young people. It is absolutely not intended merely to be a compilation of things that are happening anyway. Rather, these are measures relevant to youth that were either launched during this legislative period or further developed specifically with young people in mind. During implementation, new measures are to join them.
Thematic areas covered by the Youth Strategy
The concepts already listed include such diverse matters as promoting and strengthening children and youth parliaments, planning games for rural areas to get young people involved in regional planning processes, and the development of a road safety programme for young cyclists.
The government does not want to take decisions above the heads of young people, but to get young people closely involved. To find out what sort of policy young people would like to see, that addresses their concerns, the government thus used numerous formats in the consultation process prior to the production of the Youth Strategy. Young people and their representatives, for instance, were able to get involved in the Federal Ministry for Youth’s youth policy conventions, as well as audits and online consultations regarding the design of the Youth Strategy.
As the strategy is further developed, young people will also play a pivotal role – after all nobody knows their concerns better. Chancellor Angela Merkel and Federal Minister for Youth Franziska Giffey got things moving on Tuesday, when they discussed the new strategy with 115 young people at the Federal Chancellery.