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"Make the European Youth Work Agenda alive." - the contribution of Eurodesk and ERYICA to the future of the European Youth Work Agenda

Both Eurodesk and ERYICA took an active part in the 3rd European Youth Work Convention as members of the European Steering Group and by leading workshops on ‘Greening youth information services’ and on the ‘Promotion and recognition of youth work’.

Recognition of youth work and youth information

The final outcome of the Convention was the final Declaration ‘Signposts for the future’, which plays a crucial role in establishing the implementation process for the European Youth Work Agenda, the so-called ‘Bonn Process’. “We are delighted to see that the paper includes a call to action to make youth work greener and to develop curricula for youth worker education and training – in our case, a competency framework –, both of which ERYICA is currently working on in co-operation with Eurodesk”, says Imre Simon, consultant and development manager.

Together with Eurodesk, they plan to contribute especially to the recognition of youth work. Audrey Frith, Director of Eurodesk Brussels Link (EBL), the co-ordinating body of the network, is convinced that if the Agenda recognises the diversity of youth work and the different traditions across the EU Member States, youth workers face common challenges, such as the understanding of the value of youth work. She knows that Eurodesk can help make youth work in Europe more visible: “We believe in our work, we see the social impact it has and how it can change the life of young people, but when we talk to people – politicians, partners from other fields but also friends – it’s really not clear for them. This can be problematic when those who fund our services do not understand what we do and our added value.”

Recognition of youth information workers

Most people do not recognise it as a professional service within youth work operating through trained youth information workers. “For most people”, says Audrey Frith, “youth information is understood in a very broad sense as any type of content targeted at young people which means Tik Tok, Facebook, magazines.” Of course, there are diverse models of youth information in Europe. However, the two organisations share a common understanding of the importance of providing quality youth information, when young people are confronted with fake news, that trust in institutions is declining, etc. “Furthermore, young people face multiple challenges, and really need support in finding opportunities, accessing their rights and navigating through information. And those needs have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 sanitary crisis.” “Therefore”, Imre Simon adds, “youth information workers should be adequately skilled and resourced to support young people in a professional manner. The exchange of good practices and participation in training activities are milestones in the provision of quality youth information services.”

The EU has developed a multilingual classification of European Skills, Competences, Qualifications and Occupations called ‘ESCO’ that contains the occupation of a youth worker. Eurodesk and ERYICA requested to be a member of the ESCO Fora in charge of reviewing the portal and built a partnership with SALTO Training & Cooperation and the EU-CoE youth partnership to propose a new occupation of the youth information worker. The Europe-wide consultation confirmed that a youth information worker has specific competences as compared to a youth worker and resulted in a definition and set of competences. The proposal was validated by the Commission and is now to be reviewed by the Member States. Having a youth information worker occupation in ESCO could be used as a reference point in the EU Member States.

A competence framework of the Youth information worker

Moreover, Eurodesk and ERYICA decided to launch a joint working group to develop a competence framework of the youth information worker to be released by the end of 2021. The aim is to raise awareness on the occupation, contribute to the quality of the sector and propose a model for governments willing to develop or revise their own competence frameworks. “The adoption of this framework will be another milestone in the recognition of our profession that will build on the Bonn Process and the European Youth Work Agenda”, says Audrey Frith. “To be successful, it has to become a reference in our field, and this is our ambition. It represents one contribution of Eurodesk to make the European Youth Work Agenda alive.”

About the organisations:

Eurodesk is a European youth information network that brings together 37 Eurodesk Centres connected to over 1,600 local information providers in 36 European countries. Eurodesk raises awareness on European opportunities in particular connected to volunteering, working and learning abroad, and encourages young people to become active citizens. In addition, information and training services are offered to its multipliers who are youth information contact points.

The European Youth Information and Counselling Agency (ERYICA) is an independent European organisation, composed of national and regional youth information co-ordination bodies and networks. It has 36 members in 25 countries. It works to intensify European and international co-operation in the field of youth information work and services. It develops, supportsand promotes quality generalist youth information policy and practice at all levels to meet the information needs of young people and to apply the principles of the European Youth Information Charter.