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Mapping the educational and career paths of youth workers

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Mapping the educational and career paths of youth workers Part I. Report Researchers: James O Donovan, David Cairns, Madalena Sousa and Vesselina Valcheva Editor: James O Donovan Co-ordinator: Tanya Basarab
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Mapping the educational and career paths of youth workers Part I. Report Researchers: James O Donovan, David Cairns, Madalena Sousa and Vesselina Valcheva Editor: James O Donovan Co-ordinator: Tanya Basarab The content of this document, commissioned by the EU-Council of Europe youth partnership, is the sole responsibility of the author and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of either of the partner institutions, the European Union and the Council of Europe. 1 Contents Executive summary... 2 Background, context and methodology... 2 Key findings... 3 Conclusions... 4 Chapter Introduction... 5 Chapter Current European policy on promotion and development of youth work... 9 Chapter Research questions, methodology and responses Research questions Methodology Reponses Chapter Data analysis Policy and legislation (Question 1) Formal and non-formal education and training (Questions 3, 4) Quality and competences (Question 5) Quality assurance of youth work Competences of youth workers Associations and networking (Question 6) Employment, career paths and professionalisation (Questions 7, 8, 2) Chapter Main findings, emerging trends and conclusions Information and data Policy and legislation Formal and non-formal education and training Quality and competences Associations and networking Employment, career paths and professionalisation Conclusions References... 58 1 Executive summary Background, context and methodology This report presents the initial results of a data collection process launched through the European Union-Council of Europe youth partnership research initiative on mapping the educational paths of youth workers and strengthening knowledge on youth work. Its main objective is to contribute to a better understanding of the nature and status of youth work in Europe and to gather and share information on the educational and career paths available to youth workers, as well as on quality assurance and the competences youth workers are expected to have. A team of four researchers was selected to conduct the research and compile the report. An expert group in the youth field was also convened to provide guidance and support. A questionnaire was compiled and circulated in June 2017 to the national correspondents of the European Knowledge Centre for Youth Policy (EKCYP) and relevant ministries, institutions and bodies. The questionnaire sought data and information on: youth policy and legislation; educational and training for youth workers (including opportunities offered in the fields of both formal and non-formal education and training); quality assurance and competence frameworks and systems; associations of youth workers; employment opportunities and career paths for youth workers and professionalisation. The team of researchers also conducted a literature review, as well as desk research on the current youth policy context in Europe. Completed questionnaires were received from 41 countries in all. The resulting information and data was collated and analysed and the draft report was finalised having being considered, discussed and amended by the expert group and following on further amendments and observations from EKCYP correspondents and representatives of the member states to the European Steering Committee for Youth (CDEJ) in the Council of 2 Europe statutory bodies on youth, as well as from other stakeholders concerned with youth worker education, training, learning and career development. Key findings The report finds that: access to relevant, reliable and regular data and information is a prerequisite if education/training and employment/career paths for youth workers are not only to be identified but also actively promoted and supported; in all 41 countries surveyed, there is a governmental structure responsible for youth policy and its implementation; 34 countries have some form of legislative or strategic policy provision for youth, at either national or regional level; 21 countries are undertaking policy initiatives and developments in youth work; 17 countries offer degree-level courses in youth work or related fields; 39 countries state that they provide some level of non-formal education and training for youth workers; the main providers of non-formal education and training are the state, the voluntary sector and European support programmes; a central/northern/western Europe and southern/eastern Europe divide is apparent in terms of education and training provision; 18 countries have some form of quality assurance framework or system in place; 20 countries also have systems or tools in place for the recognition of competences needed by youth workers; 15 countries have associations of youth workers and most provide training for youth workers; 13 countries have statistics on the number of youth workers employed by the state/public sector/non-governmental organisations (NGOs); 22 countries have standard occupational profiles for youth workers; possible career opportunities for youth workers include: youth centres, advice provision and counselling, health services, NGOs, the voluntary sector, leisure and out-of-school activities; in general, there is a lack of recognition of the profession youth worker. 3 Conclusions The report concludes that: most of the 41 countries surveyed have a legal or strategic structure or framework in place with responsibility for youth policy and its implementation; almost all the countries surveyed provide some level of non-formal education and training; less than half of the countries surveyed have some level of capacity in terms of formal education, the existence of some form of quality and/or competency framework or system, and identifiable employment and career paths; a minority of the countries surveyed appear relatively proactive and strong in most categories, while a minority of others appear much less proactive and weak; what emerges from the survey is a variegated and complex picture of youth work across Europe; in a minority of countries with a history of youth work, where it is embedded, education/training and employment pathways appear reasonably clear. In other countries surveyed, where youth work is not embedded, education/training and employment paths often appear both limited and sparse. 4 Chapter 1 Introduction This report is part of the research initiative Mapping Educational Paths of Youth Workers and Gathering Knowledge on Youth Work. Its main objective is to contribute to a better understanding and sharing of information about the education and training of youth workers across Europe and what employment/career paths this prepares them for, as well as the implications for the quality of youth work. Under its 2017 work programme, the European Union-Council of Europe youth partnership proposed to develop better knowledge on youth work, enlarge the youth work section in the European Knowledge Centre for Youth Policy (EKCYP) and continue to upload relevant research to its virtual library. An expert group was established to outline in more detail the scope of the mapping in accordance with the expectations of the partner institutions. Some elements of the proposed mapping included the: competences youth workers are expected to have; educational offers to youth workers in the framework of vocational or tertiary education; non-formal educational paths available to youth leaders and youth workers and their status; career paths/work opportunities open to youth workers, depending on their educational achievements. At their 2016 annual meeting, EKCYP s correspondents agreed to focus on gathering knowledge on youth work in Europe and to contribute to both of the above-mentioned objectives by responding to a detailed questionnaire. Through an open call, the EU-Council of Europe youth partnership selected four researchers with relevant background and experience and tasked them to: carry out a literature review on the educational paths available to youth workers; draft a questionnaire for EKCYP correspondents; draft a report, including an executive summary and key findings. 5 The work of the researchers was guided and supported by the expert group, which included representatives of the partner institutions, the Europe Goes Local project, the Salto Training and Cooperation Resource Centre, Council of Europe youth sector statutory bodies and experts involved in the drafting of the Council of Europe Recommendation CM/Rec(2017)4 on youth work. The youth partnership also communicated with representatives of other initiatives (mapping on regional and local youth work by the Europe Goes Local project and the European Training Strategy co-ordinated by SALTO Training and Cooperation Resource centre) to ensure complementarity and benefit the youth sector across Europe. A meeting of the expert group, including the selected researchers, was convened in late May 2017 to initiate the process and agree on the framework and scope of the research as well as draft the questionnaire. Following this meeting and the completion of the questionnaire, it was issued to EKCYP correspondents in early June The questionnaire was also circulated at the same time to government representatives with responsibility for youth policy, education and training institutions, members of the Advisory Council on Youth and members of the European Youth Forum, as well as to representatives of other organisations delivering youth work. Responses to the questionnaire were received during summer 2017 and by the end of August completed questionnaires had been received from over 30 countries. Collation and analysis of the information and data received continued over the summer and early autumn. During the annual meeting of EKCYP correspondents in Budapest in September 2017, the researchers made a presentation on the progress of the project. A benchmarking exercise, carried out by the researchers, was also circulated to participants in advance of the meeting. The benchmarking exercise, which was based on completed questionnaires from 16 countries, was a preliminary examination of the information and data received from these countries with a view to landscaping emerging trends and issues. Following this meeting, the report was drafted and a first version of it was presented at a second meeting of the expert group in mid-november 2017, at which additional approaches and amendments to the structure and text of the draft report were tabled. This draft report was based on the responses to questionnaires from 39 countries. 6 The draft final report, which included amendments suggested at the meeting of the expert group, was completed and submitted in mid-december 2017, following which it was circulated to EKCYP correspondents to determine whether the country situation was well reflected and was also circulated to the European Steering Committee for Youth (CDEJ) for its confirmation. As a result, two more countries submitted a completed questionnaire and other suggested amendments were made to the report. While the understanding and practice of youth work varies widely across Europe, as demonstrated in the report, to ensure a common understanding of the main terms of reference used in the questionnaire, the following definition was provided in the questionnaire, taken from the EU-Council of Europe youth partnership glossary on youth 1 and Recommendation CM/Rec(2017)4: Youth work is a broad term covering a wide variety of activities of a social, cultural, educational, environmental and/or political nature by, with and for young people, in groups or individually. Youth work is delivered by paid and volunteer youth workers and is based on non-formal and informal learning processes focused on young people and on voluntary participation. Youth work is quintessentially a social practice, working with young people and the societies in which they live, facilitating young people s active participation and inclusion in their communities and in decision making. (Council of Europe 2017) 2 Definitions set out in the questionnaire also included youth worker, formal learning, non-formal learning and accreditation of an education programme, and are all taken from the EU-Council of Europe youth partnership glossary on youth and related sources. These definitions and others from the glossary also underpin the data analysis in the report. The questionnaire and the nomenclature for youth worker used in the countries surveyed are included in the annexes. Data from the questionnaires collected has also been collated in appendices which can be found on the EU-CoE youth partnership website dedicated to the research findings. 3 With regard to the tables in the Appendices, countries are not included in a table where they do not meet, or do not provide any information or data on, any of the criteria in the table. 1. See accessed 23 May See accessed 23 May For details please visit 7 Where a country does not meet, or does not provide any information or data on, specific criteria in a table, N/A (non applicable or not available) is used. The maps used in the report have been configured using the Council of Europe maps. Other terms and terminology employed in the report, particularly those relating to qualifications, derive from the responses to the questionnaire. For the most part they are in English and, on occasion, French. However, in some instances a translation has been provided where the meaning may be less clear, as for instance Fritidsledarutbildning (recreation leader) in Sweden and Barne- og ungdomsarbeiderfag (child and youth work subjects) in Norway. The term country (European Cultural Convention) rather than member state is used in the report. While a literature review was conducted as planned, the information and data resulting from the review were deemed not substantive enough for inclusion in the final report. Accordingly, a new chapter on Current European policy on promotion and development of youth work has been included in its stead. All information and data included in the data analysis and tables derive solely from the responses to the questionnaire, except where other information or data are employed for illustrative or comparative purposes. Where responses to the questionnaire categorise information and data under specific headings, such as formal or non-formal education and training, quality assurance or competency-based frameworks, or occupational standards or job descriptions, these have been reported and treated as such for data analysis purposes, unless otherwise indicated. Accordingly, the report is based and reliant on the extent and quality of the responses to the questionnaire. While the report has sought to adhere in all instances to the content and classification of the information and data supplied in the responses to the questionnaire, in some instances particularly with regard to formal and non-formal education and training, quality assurance, competences and professional regulation a certain amount of interpretation and judgement has been required to assess the content and classification of the information and data provided. 8 Chapter 2 Current European policy on promotion and development of youth work In looking at current European policy on the promotion and development of youth work, we are able to identify some common themes underpinning the approach of the European institutions to this field. Such work helps clarify what these institutions define as youth work, providing us with a starting point for the subsequent mapping exercise as well as an important point of orientation for this report. The policy background at European level in relation to youth work includes a number of significant developments. This includes attempting to explain what constitutes youth work. In 2009, the Council of the European Union s Resolution on a renewed framework for European co-operation in the youth field defined youth work as a broad term covering a large scope of activities of a social, cultural, educational or political nature both by, with and for young people based on non-formal learning processes and on voluntary participation. 4 This is very much a starting point of a definition rather than a comprehensive statement of everything that takes place within the youth sector, or indeed, encompassing all the areas in which youth workers are employed, extending beyond areas such as education and training and into other fields, including leisure. Key to this definition is, however, the fact that participation in youth work should be voluntary among young people, involve some aspect of non-formal or informal learning, and support personal social development. We can also look at the declarations of the European youth work conventions. The Declaration of the 2nd European Youth Work Convention, one of the flagship initiatives of the Belgian Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe (November 2014 to May 2015), attempts to balance, on the one hand, the idea of youth work as an instrument for labour market preparation, and on the other, a tool for 4. This definition is attributed to the late Peter Lauritzen, former head of the Youth Department and Deputy Director at the Council of Europe s Directorate of Youth and Sport. See accessed 23 May supporting personal development, empowerment, citizenship, participation, social inclusion, cultural awareness, expression, friendship and having fun. What the convention provides is a statement of renewed commitment to supporting youth work in Europe and the triggering of an institutional process towards agreement on the value and significance of youth work among the European institutions, as well as an endorsement of the work of policy makers and practitioners in the youth sector. This document essentially sets parameters in regard to what youth workers should be doing and, as it notes in its concluding summary, youth work is a central component of a social Europe. 5 As the convention notes, the responsibility for youth work rests lies with member states, meaning that we need to establish what is happening in the youth sector in countries throughout Europe. In this report, we will therefore try to look at the extent to which the aspirations of the European institutions are being realised. One document that is key to guiding this process is the Council of Europe Recommendation CM/Rec(2017)4 on youth work. This includes the provision of a basic definition (quoted in the Introduction and abridged from the resolution cited above). The aim of this recommendation is to encourage countries to develop their youth work policy and forms of practice, in order to support youth work at local, regional, national and European levels. Significantly, this definition also acknowledges the importance of paid and volunteer youth workers, and the emphasis on non-formal and informal learning processes. Hence, this document provides an important indication of the means through which youth work should be practiced. Definitions of these terms, and many others, can be found in the EU-Council of Europe youth partnership glossary on youth. In explaining what it is youth workers actually do, dedicated research on youth work in practice is limited, although a significant number of studies have emerged, bringing together insights on the work of those within the youth sector across Europe. One example is the recent Council of Europe youth knowledge publication: Thinking seriously about youth work (Schild et al. 2017). This book takes a transversal perspective, examining country case 5. Declaration of the 2nd European Youth Work Convention, Brussels, 27 to 30 April Also worth citing is the Belgian Presidency s Council Resolution on youth work (2010). 10 studies from various EU member states and Council of Europe countries. From this work, we can in some ways fill out a contemporary definition of youth work in terms of occupational categories, looking at people termed socio-cultural instructors, int
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