Innovation in youth work

YOWOMO2.0-Train uses positive aspects and frameworks of existing projects to develop new methods, tools and intercultural and multidisciplinary approaches to digital technology in teaching and communication with youth, youth workers, and trainers, in coffee-to-go-1853995_1920order to raise the level of their competence and socio-economic-technological awareness.

The term ‘youth work’ is used as a summary expression for activities with and for young people of a social, cultural, educational or political nature. Aims of youth work are the integration and inclusion of young people in society. It may also aim towards the personal and social emancipation of young people from dependency and exploitation. Youth Work belongs both to the social welfare and to the educational systems. Youth work increasingly deals with unemployment, educational failure, marginalisation and social exclusion. Youth work overlaps with the area of social services undertaken by the Welfare State. It includes work on aspects such as education, employment, assistance and guidance, housing, mobility, criminal justice and health, as well as the more traditional areas of participation, youth politics, cultural activities, scouting, leisure and sports. Youth work seeks to reach out to particular groups of young people such as disadvantaged youth in socially deprived neighbourhoods, or immigrant youth including refugees and asylum seekers.

Not all countries have a formal definition of youth work and amongst those that do, there is a variety of definitions. Looking at the diversity of both youth work practice and education the partnership will not only improve the competences of youth workers and their trainers, but also foster the exchange of youth work practice and professional standards in Europe. In addition, there is not only a diversity concerning youth work definition, practice, and education, but also concerning the evolution of the digital economy and society in Europe. This digital diversity will also be reflected in the pchildren-1931189_1920artnership bringing together youth work organisation from a wide range of countries on the Digital Economy and Society Index such as for example The Netherlands (Rank 3) and Romania (Rank 28).

The results of the European research projects “EU Kids Online” and “Net Children Go Mobile” indicate the need for strategies that enable practitioners to maximise young people’s opportunities to benefit from the Internet as well as trying to minimize harm. Internet use is increasingly mobile with more children accessing the internet in the privacy of their bedroom and when out and about. Although children do more online, most do still not climb far up “the ladder of opportunities”.

Both the training of youth workers and their professional practice are challenged by the growing significance of smartphones and social media in young people’s lives. The knowledge, skills and attitudes needed for professional youth work in this age are YOWOM20competencemodeldescribed in the YOWOMO2.0 competence framework. This framework has been developed together by a European Leonardo da Vinci Partnership of youth work organisations, vocational and educational training organisations, and research and development organisations. The YOWOMO2.0 framework comprises (1) a description of competences for youth work in the age of smartphones and social media in the form of bodies of knowledge, skills and attitudes; (2) tools to measure these competences (e.g. a competence quiz); (3) a description of professional youth work products that serve as evidence of competence; (4) criteria for the assessment of the professional products; and (5) training scenarios for the application of the framework in educational practice. The evaluation of YOWOMO2.0 – especially of the competence descriptions that were used in try-outs with social work students – showed that the framework is both usable and useful, and in long term will benefit both youth work and young people.

Building on the positive evaluation of YOWOMO2.0 and the feedback from relevant stakeholders during the dissemination phase – YOWOMO2.0 has been presented and discussed both on international conferences and with organisations in the field – the new strategic partnership YOWOMO2.0-Train will now be the first project to be sustainable and to implement the YOWOMO2.0-competences for youth work in the age of smartphones and social media in youth work education and training. Representing the diversity of both practice and training of youth workers in Europe this will be done by applying the competence framework suitable in Higher Education, in Vocational Education and Training, and in Continuing Vocational Education in Training in various European contexts. Due to the diversity the recognition and accreditation of education and training will refer to established systems such ECTS and ECVET, but also will refer to link to non-formal/informal tools such as for example “The Council of Europe Youth Work Portfolio“.