Estonia

In Estonia, as of January 2012, there were living 314 173 young people aged between 7-26. This makes 23,5% of the Estonian population. As in other European countries, the number of young people continues to decrease.
Activity of young people in the labor market is growing, but very slowly. New opportunities have opened up to self-realization in education and hobby education, structures of youth participation, youth centers.
Nevertheless, several issues of concern still exist: the growing exodus of young people; high unemployment of 15 to 19-year old youth; relatively high povetry rate in 16 to 24-years olds. The health behaviour of young people is also problematic – physically they are generally active, but the rate of unhealthy diet and alcohol consumtion is very high.
The number of youth agencies in Estonia 2012 has grown. So, there are ways to prevent and mitigate the problems. Youth work is mostly done in 154 youth centers, 527 hobby scools, youth and youthwork associations, youth camps and structures of youth participation.
Fortunately, we have lot of different specialists from various areas, who are concerned and interested in situatuion of young people in Estonia. They work every day to make changes. Therefore, if there is will and action, there are also results.

Following are some interesting testimonies from young people from Estonia:

ROBERT (26) – music teacher, musician:
The world is different compare to situation, where my parents lived. We have very many possibilities, example travelling (different youth projects) and taking part in various activities. Unfortunately everyone can’t afford it. Usually there are limited conditions for living – food is on the table, clothes are on. Also the unemployment level is high.
Difficulties in economics generating social fragmentation; expectations and hopes conflict with reality creates psychological problems. It is difficult to live your dream life, because we use all the energy to cope. For those young people, who have goals and strong support from family, the situation is pretty good. But for young people, who have deviated from the path, there is need to offer more advice and find concret ways to improve their standards of living.
It is not only the situation, which touches young people who have problems at homes, schools. Nowadays in my oppinion almost everyone is with special needs, because we can not feel that we are connected with this society, that we are needed here.
In my opinion and experience the activities what youth workers and leisure teachers offer must be based on more in therapy and self-discovery, allowing to help young people to better cope with a complex world.

MEELIS (26) – company founder:
The main task of teachers, youth workers, parents or any other mentors, in my opinion, is to give possibilities for young people to “discover”. Every young person should have at least one activity that she/he likes. Whether it is singing, soccer, chess or boxing. It should be something that goes deeper and that makes young eyes glow. Activity that teaches to communicate with others, developes the ability to commit. Then it is possible to reach a youth and help her/him to develop.
Today there is missing that one special “thing” in many young people’s lives. It must be found.

KRISTI (23) – youth worker:
In Estonia there is habit not to communicate very openly. People are not allowed to show their real emotions and in case of problems they use too much alcohol or other drugs, which leads to the emegrence of new problems. In my opinion using the group methods in youth work or any other activities for young people, have higher probability for effective results. Results as changes in behavior; understanding of importance and necessity of young people in our society.
In my opinion youth work methods are causing more relief and skills to deal with life, work, which is also needed, but this complex world requires our youth to cope with him/her (I mean in psychological, spiritual well-being). It is the basic and everything else starts from that.

TUULI (24) – active in youth field:
I think that the situation of nowadays young people in Estonia is more sad that happy. It saddens me that the current economic situation and attitudes in society, it is not enough sometimes, if you have acquired yourself and interesting speciality and tried to gain experience. Often, young people can not find the job or the salary is ridiculously low. I mean that elementary things like own independent management – it seems like a dream of distant future. However, I believe that big part of the success depends on young person vilition and capacity to work.
I am happy that we have in fact much freedom in Estonia: freedom of speech to opportunity to travel almost anywhere. Far from any other country this is not possible. So we should evaluate and use it.
My own future is still unclear: at the moment I am going back to Germany to gain experience. I do not deny the possibility of living there in the future, but the heart is still in Estonia. In favorable conditions I am ready to return.