22 January 2016

Overview: what is youth work, what is a youth worker?

Today we will come up with some clear details regarding "youth work" and "youth worker" - two concepts that tend to be overused lately, but most of the time people don't get the full overview of them.

Let's start with a short teaser to introduce the concepts:

According to the European Union:
What is it? 
Youth work has three essential features:
  • Young people choose to participate; 
  • The work takes place where the young people are; 
  • It recognises that the young person and the youth worker are partners in a learning process. 
Youth work encompasses a broad range of activities (e.g. social, cultural, educational, sports-related and political) carried out with, by and for young people through non-formal and informal learning.

What are the aims? 
Youth work helps young people to reach their full potential. It encourages personal development, autonomy, initiative and participation in society.

Who is involved? 
Youth work provides out-of-school education, as well as leisure activities managed by professional or voluntary youth workers and youth leaders. It is organised in different ways:
– through youth-led organisations,
– organisations for youth,
– informal groups or
– youth services and public authorities.

How does it happen?
Youth work is delivered in different forms and settings (eg open-access, group-based, programme-based, outreach, and detached) at local, regional, national, and European level. Its effectiveness has led to an increasing number of organisations – such as those working in youth justice and health improvement – to develop a youth work approach. This enables young people who might otherwise be alienated from support to get the services they need.

What does a youth worker do? (UK perspective)
Youth work often emphasises the need to involve young people in the running of their own services through a process of youth-led youth work. Historically there are a number of different motives for the development of youth work in the UK. First, early youth workers, often from the middle classes, frequently saw working with deserving young people as an expression of their Christian faith. Secondly there was a concern to instill a middle class set of values in working class youth.
Nowadays, in the United Kingdom, being a youth worker is a profession as many others, there are several Bachelor or even Master programmes in the field. Learn more about how does it look to be a youth worker in the UK.

Youth work in Romania
Youth work is a recent profession in Romania, being recognized as such since 2012 (COR code: 341205). Thus, it is still considered to be a vague, unclear, not so well known and often misunderstood concept.
The youth worker mobilizes young people towards life skills and proactive behavior development stimulating the involvement in youth associations, youth cooperation and youth involvement into the community. (Youth worker Occupational Standard in Romania
Youth work - GEYC's perspective
Taking into consideration the features above, participating in a programme developed by GEYC as a youth worker is possible if you meet the following criteria:
You have worked with youth (14-35 years old) for at least 20 hours in the past 6 months leading activities linked to facilitating a learning process, guiding, mentoring, coaching, informing or supporting young people, online and/or offline, outside the formal education setting.

And now, let's get a more visual representation of these concepts:
Who are we?

What we want?

What we do?