Report: The Corona crisis accelerated the digital leap in the youth industry

MDI and youth research and development center Juvenia, part of South-Eastern Finland University of Applied Sciences, carried out a report on the effects of the corona crisis on the youth industry. The report is commissioned by the National Youth Council of state. According to the results, the youth industry reacted quickly to the corona crisis. The transition to an online environment changed industry practices and the numbers reached by youth activities provided.

The main impact of the corona crisis has been the rapid acceleration of the industry’s digitalisation process. The restrictions imposed by the corona crisis have however challenged the industry’s ability to support the well-being of young people. During the crisis, activity outreach, in various forms, has generally been enjoyed by the same target groups as before though the most significant differences are to be found within the target groups. The number of young people reached has generally grown and become heterogeneous.

The target groups highlighted in the report were, municipal youth work, outreach youth work, youth workshop activities, youth organisations and youth centres. Representatives of the administration of the youth sector also took part in the survey and interviews. Almost half of the actors in the youth sector (47%) say that the number of young people reached by the activity has changed during the corona crisis. At the same time, almost a third of respondents (32%) said they had reached less than half of the young people they have been in contact with before the coronary crisis. On the other hand, almost two out of three (64%) professionals say they have reached young people with whom they have not been in contact with previously.

According to the report, the youth industry reacted quickly to the corona crisis – youth work and activities were successfully adapted under severe pressure. Group activities and individual work were immediately planned and implemented digitally. Street youth work was also immediately adapted such that it could be carried out in exceptional situations. The main principle in planning and providing activities has been the idea of how to act as normally as possible for a young person in an exceptional situation.

There has clearly been a real digital leap in the industry. The number of online activities has grown significantly and various digital platforms and tools have been widely deployed. Three out of four youth sector professionals say that they have found facilities for online youth work where they have not worked before. Operations have expanded beyond traditional environments and the amount of street youth work has increased. The operation is expected to continue in “the new normal” as a so-called hybrid model that combines face-to-face and online activity.

The economic impact of the corona crisis on practical youth work and activities was assessed to be relatively small. According to the survey, the representatives of Regional State Administrative Agencies, youth centres and youth sector organisations estimated the impact to be more significant. Municipal decisions have had a notable impact on practical youth work and activities. Depending on the municipality, resources may have increased, remained the same or decreased. Additional temporary resources, such as state subsidies, have been seen as very significant and necessary.

The corona crisis has taught us that preparedness must be improved. Public contingency planning and crisis plans must be updated by reassessing again the predicted risks and by incorporating the lessons of the pandemic into the plans. As part of this updating work, it is necessary to outline the totality of preparedness at the system level and clarify the relationships between different actors, thereby taking into account the role of youth sector actors as part of the whole process. The plans must make it possible to provide clear instructions to the various actors in a crisis situation. By securing the resources of the youth industry, it is possible to prepare for the future and predict risks.

The results of the report were presented in a webinar on 17.6.2021 and in the NUORI2022 Etkot event on 16.9.2021.


Report on the effects of the corona crisis on the youth industry, final report 20.9.2021

The effects of the corona crisis on the youth industry, presentation slides of the results 16.9.2021

Contact information

Eija Kauniskangas, substitute for secretary general, State Youth Council
p. 050 567 2772

Tommi Ranta, CEO, MDI
p. 040 588 2839