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Key terms

Youth work

Local youth work

Youth worker

Young people

Informal learning

Non-formal learning

Work processes

Quality

Preconditions

Indicators

Outcomes

Youth work

Actions directed towards young people regarding activities where they take part voluntarily, designed for supporting their personal and social development through non-formal and informal learning.

This definition is independent of which body or organisation is founding, governing, organising or delivering the actual activity and it is also independent of the setting and circumstances in which it is taking place.

This means that not all youth work is necessarily carried out by youth workers. The designing of funding systems for youth organisations is, in accordance with the above definition, one example of youth work that is not usually carried out by youth workers but by administrators. But the quality of these funding systems is of course vital to the overall quality of youth work.

Source:

Quality Youth Work – A common framework for the further development of youth work, Report from the Expert Group on Youth Work Quality Systems in the EU Member States, European Commission 2015

Local youth work

The vast majority of youth work has its starting point and take place at the local level. The quality of local youth work is therefore crucial to the overall development of youth work, wherever it takes place. Erasmus+ youth exchanges could, for example, be described as “European youth work”, but they still need to be firmly rooted in the local reality of the young people participating.

Local youth work might of course be carried out by municipal staff, but just as often and important could it be activities carried out by youth movements or organisations, independent and ad hoc created groups of young people or NGO’s directing all or parts of their activities towards young people. When working with this charter the whole local youth work landscape must therefore be taken into consideration, not only in terms of what there is, but also in terms of what there could be and possible cooperation and synergies that could be obtained.

Even if other levels and structures in society need to be involved when working with it, the charter focuses on local youth work and what young people should be able to expect from it. So, “youth work” in this charter should be understood as “local youth work” or “the local youth work reality of young people”, even if, due to readability, this is not explicitly stated in every sentence.

Source: Array

Youth worker

When starting from the perspective of qualifications and competence requirements you can find many different definitions of “youth worker” in different countries, whereas in other countries there is no definition at all. In this charter “youth worker” is simply someone doing youth work, i.e. someone who works in direct contact with young people, stimulating and supporting activities based on the core principles.

This means that youth workers might be paid or acting on a voluntary basis and be a civil servant or active in an NGO. It also means that people active in for example sports or culture can be doing youth work as long as they abide with the core principles. Because, as stated in the report Working with young people: the value of youth work in the European Union; “The difference is in the hierarchy of objectives and the openness of the activities. Sport activities that are based purely on improving performance and reaching excellence in a given sport would most likely not be considered to be youth work by representatives of the sector.”

In order to support the further development of youth work youth workers and youth work providers of course have to do a lot of other things than “pure youth work”. They will, among other things, need to work with administration, fund raising, information and advocacy. These tasks are, however, not specific to youth work and are hence, however important and time consuming they might be, not mentioned among the bullet points. Doing so would also make the charter far too long, disparate and hard to read.

Source:

Quality Youth Work – A common framework for the further development of youth work, Report from the Expert Group on Youth Work Quality Systems in the EU Member States, European Commission 2015

Young people

The definition of young people in terms of age span varies among different countries. The age range of those concerned by this charter should reflect the legal and constitutional framework and existing practices in each country.

Source:

Quality Youth Work – A common framework for the further development of youth work, Report from the Expert Group on Youth Work Quality Systems in the EU Member States, European Commission 2015

Informal learning

Informal learning is “learning resulting from daily activities related to work, family or leisure and is not organised or structured in terms of objectives, time or learning support”. This means that informal learning is acquired through daily life and is formed by the different situations you encounter and the culture you live in (and that there is no such thing as informal education).

Source:

COUNCIL RECOMMENDATION of 20 December 2012 on the validation of non-formal and informal learning (2012/C 398/01)

Non-formal learning

Non- formal learning is “learning which takes place through planned activities (in terms of learning objectives, learning time) where some form of learning support is present”. This means that it is the result of non-formal education, i.e. planned education with educational support that takes place outside the formal education system in for example youth work.

Source:

COUNCIL RECOMMENDATION of 20 December 2012 on the validation of non-formal and informal learning (2012/C 398/01)

Work processes

Work processes are the routines and procedures set up to handle everything from communication and follow up, to the way young people’s learning should be documented and made visible. Other important work processes are related to intra- and cross-sectorial cooperation and to internal and external communication and information. The role and task of youth workers in these processes need to be clearly established if they are to function as foreseen.

Source: Array

Quality

The degree of “quality” may be defined as how well something fulfils its function; to what degree the actual outcomes meet the aims. In a first step the quality of youth work is therefore related to the overall aims – how well it contributes to the personal and social development of young people.

In a second and more concrete step the quality of youth work relates to the core principles, which describe how youth work must function in order to deliver good outcomes – the better it is at meeting the core principles the more it will contribute to the personal and social development of young people.

The outcomes are however dependant on the preconditions and processes/methods that are set up to make these outcomes come true. Quality must therefore also be related to the functionality of preconditions and work processes/methods.

Source: Array

Preconditions

Preconditions are everything that needs to be at hand before starting to do youth work and includes, among other things, adequate financial resources and facilities as well as clear aims and competent youth workers.

Source: Array

Indicators

What characteristics are important if one should be able to assess the quality of youth work? What would indicate (show, be a sign of, prove) the quality of youth work? Indicators are your answers to this question. They are points of reference in relation to which reality can be compared, analysed and assessed.

Indicators could be set up for:

  • Preconditions – e.g. ethical guidelines and youth worker competence;
  • Work processes – e.g. the process used for recognising young people’s learning;
  • Outcomes;
  • Quantitative outputs – e.g. number of participants or activity hours;
  • Qualitative effects – e.g. perceived experiences or skills developed.

Please note: There is an important difference between indicators and aims!

Aims are descriptions of how or to what degree reality should correspond with the indicators. Two examples might be:

  • Indicator: Young people take part in evaluation. Aim: 50 % of young people taking part in youth work should be taking part in evaluation.
  • Indicator: Young people feel listened to during the evaluation process. Aim: 80 % of the young people taking part in evaluation should agree to the statement “I have been listened to during the evaluation process”.
Source: Array

Outcomes

Outcomes are what happens as a result of an action or activity. Outcomes could be divided into quantitative outputs and qualitative effects.

Quantitative outputs are the directly quantifiable amounts that have occurred as a result of youth work.

Examples of quantitative outputs of youth work include:

  • Number of participants
  • Gender balance
  • Number of activity hours
  • Number of events produced by young people

Qualitative effects are what actually happens to young people, how they develop, as a result of their taking part in youth work. Being defined as qualitative effects does not mean that they cannot be measured and assessed. Young people’s attitudes to specific issues, such as immigrants or the police, are for example often measured and analysed in order to better understand their actions. It is also well known that positive experiences, e.g. being met as a valuable resource/person, changes both our way of looking at ourselves and society and our way of acting. These experiences and perceptions are possible effects of youth work and could also be measured, and in a second step enhanced.

Examples of qualitative effects on young people include:

  • Perceived experiences/feelings (e.g. of being met as a resource or better self-esteem)
  • Changed attitudes (e.g. to immigrants)
  • Developed soft skills (e.g. ability to cooperate)
  • Developed skills (e.g. ability to cook)
  • Gained knowledge (e.g. about the European Union)
Source:

Quality Youth Work – A common framework for the further development of youth work, Report from the Expert Group on Youth Work Quality Systems in the EU Member States, European Commission 2015

Policy documents

Reports, declarations, books etc.