Doc. Branislav Bleha, PhD, from the Faculty of Natural Sciences of Comenius University in Bratislava and INFOSTAT´S YOUMIG thematic expert
Dr Bleha, you organised a workshop for the YOUMIG project that has just ended. What was its main mission?
The Ambition Setting Workshop was tasked with mapping the vast amount of knowledge and expertise that already exists at various levels of government and research outlets. The workshop was intended to create cooperation schemes between stakeholders or actors, who are present at different levels, hence the name: multi-level governance schemes (MLG). Such cooperation between research institutions, statistical offices, national, regional, and local government outlets can help define needs and opportunities to improve their management.
This sounds interesting, but it maybe a little complicated for the general public to grasp. Could you make it clear to us what the main purpose of this activity was and how the MLG schemes operate?
It is all about facilitating cooperation between different levels of government and creating a space for knowledge exchange. Evaluating and managing well the effects of youth migration hugely depends on how national authorities, statistical offices and research institutions work together with local authorities. MLG (multi-level governance) is a coordinated action of individual actors at different levels of governance (national, local, regional) based on a partnership. This includes operational and institutional cooperation from design to implementation. We focused on two issues. The first concerns looking at the data. What is already available, what would be desirable in order to know more about the migration of young people. The second is linked to the YOUMIG project’s development of a One Stop Shop (OSS) service - a contact point to support the integration of foreigners which is implemented by Slovakia’s municipal project partner, the City Council of Bratislava-Rača.
Can you please describe the problems associated with the availability of data?
During the workshop, we introduced three indicators – these are complex data that are often used to describe specific issues or phenomena in society. The first one we looked at concerns human resources, more specifically the number of carers who look after people in their old age. The second is the departure of university students abroad and the third is the demand for social housing. We reviewed all three indicators in terms of availability for the local level, in other words, whether this information can be gathered about the situation in Bratislava-Rača. Then we started the scheme to establish cooperative links between potential institutions that could address the challenges relevant to the issues we encountered – in this case that the number of carers is insufficient, that university students are leaving the country in great numbers or that demand for social housing by people arriving in Rača is not met.
What other activities does INFOSTAT engage in within the YOUMIG project?
The YOUMIG project is soon coming to its final period and work is intensifying. INFOSTAT, in cooperation with the local partner Bratislava–Rača, is responsible for carrying out a small-scale survey locally. Its main mission is to get some detailed information on the most pressing issues of young migration: its relationship with families, households, the causes of migration, migration-related difficulties, and so forth. Besides that, the survey will also help us test or verify information we have from other sources (e.g. population census, administrative sources, statistical surveys, etc.). INFOSTAT also actively collects data for the construction of more complex and new indicators of youth migration, and in cooperation with the Hungarian Statistical Office, is preparing a working document on local strategies, ideas that local decision-makers can use when they think about the future of their city with regard to youth migration. We also developed a new tool: the Data Toolkit. It is a useful tool that enables users to work with all the relevant outputs from the YOUMIG project. We hope that the tool will serve as a guide to solving relevant issues about youth migration.
Interview with Ján BUČEK, CSc.
Dr BUČEK is Head of the Department of Human Geography and Demography at Comenius University in Bratislava and YOUMIG thematic expert at the City District Council of Bratislava –Rača.
Dr Buček, your work is focused on human and political geography with interests in spatial policies, development, planning and governance issues. YOUMIG’s One-stop-shop (OSS) service was mentioned in the workshop. Could you please introduce this activity?
“A place of first contact”–this is the idea behind the one-stop-shop (OSS) in Bratislava – Rača, which was introduced in May 2018. The OSS provides a counselling service for foreigners newly arriving to the city, in order to help them quickly settle in Rača and participate actively in the life of the local community.
What services does the OSS provide? Is it a free service?
The OSS provides services and information on the conditions and rules foreigners living in Slovakia must face: the legal system, health-care options, local services, language learning opportunities, and more. The aim is to develop communication, to socially integrate and to accept the cultural differences of (young) migrants. The Rača city office negotiates and cooperates with many local and national institutions, educational institutions and other Bratislava city districts, in order to secure and develop these services. This is a free information service introduced within the YOUMIG project.
How does the service work in practice?
The OSS in real life works on two platforms. The first is a physical contact point located in the City Office of the district Bratislava – Rača, in Kubačova Street, which provides information on many aspects of life in the district. It is open on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and it operates in English and German. Those interested can come by in person, they can call, or they can also get information by email. In addition, the virtual OSS in English was established on the homepage of the city district. Its focus is based on the experience of the self-governments involved in the YOUMIG project and has been designed according to the Good Practice study prepared by colleagues in the YOUMIG project.
Interviews by Monika Ruffini, INFOSTAT