Youth Work

What is it?

Youth Work can consist of actions targeted at young people in activities in which they voluntarily participate and are designed to support their personal and social development through non-formal and informal learning. 

It is based on the following three guiding principles:

Young people choose to participate.

It recognizes that young people and youth workers are partners in the learning process.

It happens where young people are.

It encompasses social, cultural, educational, sport-related, and political activities. It is carried out with, by, and for young people to promote development opportunities, supporting young people to reach their maximum value, encouraging personal development, autonomy, initiative, and participation in society.

What is a Youth Worker

The Skills Recognition, Validation and Certification System (RCVV) defines the youth worker as a professional who intervenes in the prevention, design, organization, development, and evaluation of projects, programs, and activities with and for young people, through non-formal education methodologies, facilitating and promoting citizenship, participation, autonomy, inclusion and personal, social and cultural development.

The profession is recognized in the Council of Europe’s conclusions on Technical Youth Work and highlighted in a  2014 study.

The Essential Principles

To be successful and attractive, Youth Work should:

Be perceived as being attractive, bringing added value or joy in life.

Respond to the needs, interests and experiences of young people as perceived by themselves

Be actively inclusive; reach out to and welcome all groups of young people.

Have a holistic perspective and meet young people as capable individuals and resources.

Enhance young people’s rights, personal and social development and autonomy.

Be based on young people’s voluntary and active participation, engagement and responsibility.

Be designed, delivered and evaluated together with young people.

Be based on non-formal and informal learning.

Have a visible learning perspective and design its activities in accordance with clear learning objectives that are relevant to the young people

How do you distinguish it from other areas?

Young people have a fundamental role as partners and co-creators in planning, implementing, and evaluating programs and activities aimed at them, having an active role and not being just beneficiaries of youth work.

For example, an activity organized by young people, but not focused on young people or aimed at them, may not be youth work.

Generally, it is distinguished by the pursuit of the guiding principles, especially on the personal, social, and cultural development of young people by design and not only by consequence. There are good examples of youth work in other areas; however, it is essential to recognize the differences, despite the focus being the same target audience.

Some examples

In terms of sport, “activities purely based on improving the performance and excellence of a given sport are not considered youth work by sector representatives” – the difference is usually in the hierarchy of objectives and performance.

Leisure activities may describe the period in which they occur and not be directly related to the objectives. They refer to activities with a primary focus on fun and not on youngsters’ development and personal, social, and cultural dimensions. However, this type of activity can be used as a tool to promote the bond of young people with peers and with activities.

A place for young people to enjoy, but which does not have a clear way of supporting personal development or non-formal learning, may not be considered a place where youth work occurs. For example, a room with tables to work, study, read or play

Youth work can also include similar goals, such as prevention and social inclusion. However, if it does not aim at the personal and social development of young people or the activities are not optional, it must be considered social work – in which the intervention is carried out based on non-formal education methods.

The social service will design and implement preventive and interventional solutions that include the Youth Work.

Youth work provides education, usually outside the school context. It is guided by professional youth technicians, volunteers, young leaders, civil servants or members of non-governmental organizations through funding programs and support systems.

Qhere is it performed?

The most common places and ways where youth work occurs:

Depending on the country and recognition at national, regional, and local levels, youth work may be carried out in other entities and locations, namely schools, community spaces, churches, libraries, etc.

This approach’s effectiveness has given rise to an increasing number of organizations – such as those working on youth justice and health improvement – to develop an approach to youth work, and including young people who might otherwise be alienated from support to obtain the services they need.

Os locais e formas mais comuns onde se realiza o trabalho técnico de juventude:

  • Centros de Juventude;
  • Projetos e Iniciativas com e para jovens;
  • Grupos informais de jovens;
  • Acampamentos para jovens;
  • Informação para jovens;
  • Organizações de Jovens ou de Carácter Juvenil;
  • Movimentos Juvenis.

Dependendo do país e do reconhecimento do trabalho técnico de juventude é reconhecido, este poderá ser realizado noutras entidades e locais, nomeadamente as escolas, os espaços comunitários, as igrejas e as bibliotecas, etc.

A eficácia originou um crescente número de organizações – como as que trabalham na justiça dos jovens e na melhoria da saúde – com a finalidade de desenvolverem uma abordagem para o trabalho dos jovens. Permitindo que jovens que, de outra forma, poderiam ser alienados do apoio, obtenham os serviços de que precisam.