North Macedonia

The Agency for Youth and Sport (AYS) is responsible for the interests and needs of youth and the implementation of the National Youth Strategy (2016-2025). The Youth Sector is divided into the Department of Youth Policy and Training, and the Department for International Cooperation. The current head of the Youth Sector is Gordana Cekova.

Published on October 25, 2023
Updated on February 20, 2024

Definition of youth

Both the National Youth Strategy (2016-2025) and the Law on Youth Participation and Youth Policies (2020) refer to youth as persons aged between 15 and 29 years.

Definition 1
15 - 29 years
Definition 2

Voting Rights

Majority age
18 years
Voting age
18 years
Criminal responsibility
15 years

Candidacy age

Lower House
18 years
Upper House
--- (unicameral)
--- (tbc)

Marriage & Gender

Without parental consent
18 years
18 years
With parental consent
16 years
16 years


Is same-sex marriage legalized?


Are other genders recognised?

Policy & Legislation

Is there a national youth policy?

The National Youth Strategy (2016-2025) was initiated by the Agency for Youth and Sport (AYS). The previous youth plan covered the time frame from 2005 to 2015. According to an EU YouthWiki report, the content of the Youth Strategy is based on the youth trends survey conducted by the Institute of Sociological, Political and Juridical Research in the period from September to December 2014. The nine key areas of the Youth Strategy are: (1) youth participation; (2) youth information; (3) local youth work; (4) education; (5) employment and pre-employment support; (6) culture; (7) sports; (8) health; and (9) quality of life. Furthermore, the four strategic priorities of the Youth Strategy are:

  1. Providing a better standard of living and equal opportunities for a decent life;
  2. Creating conditions for effective observance and protection of fundamental rights and freedoms, and systematic integration and interaction of different categories of young people;
  3. Creating opportunities for the involvement of young people in the monitoring and implementation of policies and decisions that affect them;
  4. Equal access to quality education and other forms of personal and professional development.

According to the Youth Strategy, two-year action plans should specify the next steps, timeframes, responsibilities, and finances "for the delivery of the objectives as part of the proposed solutions that have already been defined." There is an Action Plan 2016-2017 for the implementation of the Youth Strategy. A 2022 Meta article states that the AYS is preparing a National Youth Strategy for the period between 2023-2027. Lastly, the Law on Youth Participation and Youth Policies (2020) has multiple objectives such as:

  1. Designing and implementing a youth policy at all levels through a multi-sectoral approach, starting from youth needs and interests;
  2. Strengthening youth participation in the youth-related policy-making processes, active informing, promotion and protection of youth interests, as well as raising the awareness of the importance of youth and their societal role.

Public Institutions

Is there a governmental authority that is primarily responsible for youth?

The Agency for Youth and Sport (AYS) is responsible for the interests and needs of youth and the implementation of the National Youth Strategy (2016-2025). The Youth Sector is divided into the Department of Youth Policy and Training, and the Department for International Cooperation. The current head of the Youth Sector is Gordana Cekova. According to the Youth Sector's website, functions of the Youth Sector include:

  1. Developing an active education policy ;
  2. Promoting equal opportunities for education and cultural awareness of young people in order to encourage their personal development and development in the community;
  3. Recognition, support and development of non-formal education and its providers;
  4. Establishing a balance and cooperation between education and training with the labor market (supply and demand) and the development of new technologies;
  5. Integration of young people in the work process, regardless of socio-cultural background.

The AYS has a Facebook account.

Youth & Representation

Does the country have a national youth organization or association?

The National Youth Council of Macedonia (NYCM) is a non-governmental representative body for youth organisations in North Macedonia. It was established by 55 organisations in 2013 and unites 51 organisations, 17 youth organisations, 20 organisations for youth, 1 union, 7 youth wings of other organisations and 6 associate members, "in order to promote and advocate for the rights of the Macedonian youth." According to the NYCM's website, its mission is "to represent the interests and needs of young people as a liaison to all stakeholders so as to ensure involvement and active participation of youth in the process of decision-making at every level." The NYCM has been a member of the European Youth Forum (EYF) since 2015.Further information on the structure, functions, and objectives of local youth councils, a National Youth Policy Advisory Body, a National Youth Assembly, and Youth Umbrella Organisations can be found in the Law on Youth Participation and Youth Policies (2020).

Youth work

Is youth work a formally recognised profession?

According to the Code of Ethics for Youth Workers, "youth work as a profession ... is still not acknowledged" in North Macedonia. However, the Agency of Youth and Sport (AYS) and the Coalition of Youth Organizations (SEGA) aim to professionalise youth work and standardise the skills, knowledge, and competencies of youth workers. The Code of Ethics for Youth Workers outlines the professional and ethical principles that a youth worker should possess. Furthermore, the Law on Youth Participation and Youth Policies defines youth workers as "qualified people who possess the competences needed to work with youth by implementing activities by which their personal and social development is supported through non-formal and informal learning."

The objectives of the National Youth Strategy (2016-2025) recognise the importance of professionalising youth work. The document defines local youth work as

"an organised and systematic process of education and support of authentic development of young people with the aim of fulfilling their overall personal, social, and civic potential. It is directly associated with the development of the local community, whereby young people not only become active participants in the process of their own development but also active participants in the life of the community."

Students can complete a Youth Work in the Community course at the South East European University in North Macedonia.

Budget & Spending

Does the national youth policy have a dedicated budget?

According to the Revenues Statement of the Budget of the Republic of North Macedonia (2021), the total expenditures for the Agency for Youth and Sport (AYS) total MKD 526.4 million, (USD 9.4 million) for 2021. The total expenditure of approximately MKD 19.8 million (USD 352,000 EUR) were dedicated to the youth sector of the AYS.

According to the Law on Youth Participation and Youth Policies (2020), "funds in the amount of at least 0.3% of the Budget of North Macedonia shall be allocated annually" for the implementation of the law. Additionally, 0.1% of the budgets of the municipalities in the City of Skopje should be allocated for youth annually. No information on a budget for the National Youth Strategy (2016-2025) was found.

Contextual Figures

Liberal Democracy Index
Youth Progress Index

Economic Indicators

GDP per capita
Human Development Index
Gini coefficient

Additional background

The EU Youth Wiki on youth policy in North Macedonia asserts that:

"Although youth and youth organizations were actively involved in the process of creation of the content of the strategy, after its adoption by the Government of the Republic of Macedonia, there were reactions from National Youth Council of Macedonia (the largest and most relevant platform that represents the interests and needs of the youth in the country) that the final document differs from the one the youth worked along with institutions for almost a year. They also stressed that the youth strategy is not adopted as a complete package along with accompanying documents and items that ensure its implementation and precise monitoring, i.e. there was no action plan, indicators and budget for implementation. The first action plan was adopted later."

A 2019 study by the Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD) investigated the positions and opinions of youth in North Macedonia. This study found that:

  1. Less than a third of young people (31%) think that North Macedonia is moving in the right direction;
  2. Only 3% of young people are fully satisfied with their place in society;
  3. Young people generally believe they can not impact the way authorities work, with 6 out of 10 young people who believe they cannot have any impact at all;
  4. Roughly one in five young people (22%) in the country believe that the current government is committed to addressing the problems of youth;
  5. 71% of young people describe themselves as socially inactive citizens;
  6. Only 8% of young people have taken steps to solve a particular societal problem;
  7. 90% of the young people in North Macedonia have never been part of a civic/non-governmental organisation or initiative that works on social issues;
  8. 64% of young people state they always vote on elections. However, every second young citizen does not believe one can influence the situation in the country by voting in elections;
  9. 85% of young people think that the country needs a leader with a firm hand.


See all sources (7)


  • Update 13.06.2024: