Poland

I could write a PhD work about the suggested topic, but let me mention some few important points. Most young people have a positive attitude towards European integration and are optimistic as to its expected implications. They are rather critical of the economic situation in Poland, especially of the labour market situation. Polish youth have easy access to education which is on a very good level. They do not have complexes in international relations and are very open as a society. Young people in Poland very often take independent initiatives.

The situation of youth depends on the region. There have been many positive changes thanks to the process of political and economic transformation. Youths are more open, they learn languages, and want to study in Poland or abroad. They have better access to Internet that enables them to realise more dreams and get to know the world. They are very creative, talented, and still attached to family life. However, in rural areas they are still more disadvantaged, often without Internet and a very small percentage of mobility. In general they are great but need more support both from the government and non-governmental entities.

Now the situation is not good because we have a lot of unemployment. A lot of young people do not have any idea of how to live and survive in a new world. I hope that it will change.

There is an unemployment rate of almost 20% and lack of perspectives for youth who complete education. Many people chose to work abroad and many educated young professionals do this. The start into real life is much harder now, but people want to be dynamic, creative and engaged. This is why we do workshops for youths who are between 20-30 years old. We keep them active to jump into real life.

In Poland from this year, because of EU accession, young people started to feel that they can do something. They started to be interested in the entire proposition that the EU has for them. There are more and more young people who try to improve the situation of Poland by doing local projects. They started to have the feeling that they can change Poland and the world. They started to travel all over the world, and tried seeing other cultures. I am half Algerian, and I feel that young Poles do not know so much about the Maghreb, and I hope that now we are going to start to enhance our knowledge and start understanding others from really different cultures.

The most important problem in my country is unemployment. People finish high school, even university, and do not get a job. They have many ideas, concepts, but do not have possibilities. In my country nobody informs young people what they can do! They live from hand to mouth, and think: why are we learning? we are not able to change anything. If young people do not have an ‘important person’ in their family, they do not believe in a good future, not necessarily from their dreams. My friend describes this situation as: I am futureless, but I am going to study because I do not have anything else to do. Now, we are in the EU and I hope it will be better.

The situation of youth in Poland has generally improved over the last 15 years. In general young people started to learn foreign languages, going abroad and get to know other countries. On the other hand, there are growing differences to be found among young people. Access to better education, computer education and cultural activities are usually available to youths from cities and from wealthy families. However, youths coming from areas endangered by high unemployment, single-parent families or families with many children lack such possibilities in life. Usually because of their economic situation they do not have opportunities to go abroad and/or meet with youths from other countries, and this may influence negatively their views of the world. This happens as well because of their low self-esteem. These youths are also endangered by the rise of xenophobia and racism among them. That is why youth in Poland is in need of meeting youths from other countries. It is a chance for them to get separated from their natural environment, to see different worlds and spend their time in a meaningful and efficient way.

The situation of young people depends on the region and city where they live. If they live in the city they have the best educational chances. It is easier for them to continue their education. For people who live in the country, it is more difficult and more expensive. If they live in a region with structural unemployment, they will have many more problems with finding money for education. The highest problem for Polish youths is the fear of not finding a job, even when they finish two university faculties. But on the other hand Polish youths are well-educated, with initiative. The problem, in my opinion, is that they are not interested in social and political life, which is dangerous in countries with young democratic systems.

The situation of young people in Poland is quite good as far as human rights are concerned. But there is one big problem which troubles young people: unemployment. The rate of unemployment in Poland is very high (more than 17%). But among young people (up to thirty years old) it is almost two times higher (almost 30%). Therefore many young people decide to leave Poland in order to find a job in other countries. The most popular are UK, Ireland, Holland. Even though they are well educated they often work as waiters or cleaners. This phenomenon is also highly harmful for Poland, because the human potential is being wasted. The problem is especially important in the countryside because our young people hardly stand any chance of getting a good education. They all become farmers. In Poland being a farmer means poverty and no opportunities to change the fate, because agriculture in Poland is very ineffective and underdeveloped.

Sometimes it is quite hard to start to be a youngster or youth worker because for many persons it is hard to get necessary information in small towns and villages. It is also hard to do all the paperwork in the process of starting a new organisation. But the National Agency of the YOUTH programme is very helpful. And the difficulties are often connected with the lack of money for participation in useful training courses and contact making seminars, most of which are organised abroad. I think that Polish organisations can be sometimes better understood by other new member countries of the EU and by Euro-Mediterranean organisations because the conditions of functioning are more similar than in Western European countries. And I could see it for example during the Visegrad Summer School in Krakow in which I took part this year.

The situation of young people in Poland is quite difficult because we have a big unemployment problem. But youths have a lot of energy. They are very active and want to change their life.

It is very difficult to describe the situation of young people in Poland in such a few words. The majority of my work is contributed to youth. Many youths in Poland come from very poor families with many children. They often do not have good education, but this is slowly changing for the better now. They are unfortunately quite often close-minded and intolerant. A big part of Polish youth does not want to make something for charity. Money is the most important thing for them. They mostly do not want to participate in any activities or projects. Many youths are not interested in public life and political life. They have a very bad opinion about Polish politics. Drugs or alcohol are a rising danger to them. This is the so called ‘difficult’ youth. Another aspect is the huge rate of unemployed youth. This index is increasing regularly, in spite of the good education. The good thing is that there is quite an equal treatment given to girls and boys. They have more or less the same possibilities. One huge problem is also leisure activities. Youths lack leisure activities which interest them, due to a lack of financial support and concern on the parents’ behalf. Polish youth is under big influence of Western culture.

To know what young people think about the perspectives in our country you just have to look through a couple of articles in magazines or surveys about Polish youngsters’ plans for the future. Unfortunately they do not seem to be very optimistic. A lot of young people are thinking about going abroad and do not see any future in Poland. Why is that? It all starts at the education level – too much detailed knowledge at school, problems with getting to university because of too many candidates and lack of places for them. I know that we are changing the education system to make it similar to the Western European one but it takes time and now there is chaos. The second thing is that if you have already graduated and have higher education you still have problems with finding a job in Poland. It happens that a person with two or three studies, a few languages and computer skills is unemployed. We have the highest unemployment in the UE among people between 15-50 years old – over 50%. Apart from this, payment in Poland is very low especially concerning social jobs such as doctor, teacher, policeman, and so on. Talking about work I must also mention another issue, that is using under age youth, making them work hard and usually illegally for a little amount of money, and people who do that often get away with it. It may all come from the lack of a strong representation of youth that could have influence on government decisions. A Polish Youth Council was established only a year ago and now there are regional ones being created.

In my country there is a big unemployment problem, that is why a lot of students study in two faculties hoping it will enable them to find a job. After joining the EU new possibilities are occurring, e.g. the YOUTH Programme that enables international cooperation. For those with less money and in small cities there are fewer possibilities and such programmes are helping.