6.9 Awareness-raising about non-formal and informal learning and quality youth work
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Youth Information Centers
Both the nine regional Youth Information Centers and their umbrella organisation, the Federal Network of Austrian Youth Information Centers provide in-person and online information on all topics of relevance to young people – whether volunteering abroad or informal learning. A central portal is offered at jugendportal.at, information is also distributed regionally as well as via social media.
Lifelong Learning Inititatives
Even though the following information and service providers are all linked to adult education, these initiatives also target young people.
The website www.erwachsenenbildung.at by the Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research presents comprehensive information on Austrian adult learning and second-chance education offers, including possibilities for the validation and recognition of informally developed competencies.
The website of the Austrian Initiative for Adult Education (Initiative Erwachsenenbildung) provides information about the accreditation of programmes and courses provided within this framework. The Initiative for Adult Education arose from a cooperation of the Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research and the nine Austrian provinces.
Year of Youth Work in Austria
2016 has been the Year of Youth Work in Austria. Within this initiative, the platform youth work in Austria (Jugendarbeit in Österreich) has been established. Various information on extracurricular youth work is provided online.
Awareness raising initiatives
The website www.erwachsenenbildung.at serves as an online-platform for everybody who deals with adult education or further education as a learner, teacher, or someone working in organisation and administration. For example, it provides information on initiatives related to validation of non-formal and informal learning relevant for adult educators and guidance practitioners.
WIK:I ('What I can do through informal learning / 'Was ich kann durch informelles Lernen')
WIK:I is a low-threshold model on making basic and key skills informally obtained by young people and young adults visible and recognised. It's a flagship project of the Department of Families and Youth at the Federal Chancellery and is carried out in cooperation with the Alliance of Austrian Educational Work (Ring Österreichischer Bildungswerke) and the Federal Network of Austrian Youth Information Centres (Bundesnetzwerk Österreichischer Jugendinfos, BÖJI).
WIK:I enables young people to record and present their informally acquired competences. The focus lies on informal learning among peers, in leisure time, in family, sports, voluntary work, hobbies, jobs and others. Qualified WIK:I portfolio guidance supports young people in systematically recording their informal learning experiences. Starting from collecting and describing personally significant activities ('What I do'), young people finally arrive at identifying and describing the competences they have acquired ('What I can do'), always keeping the link to concrete activities in mind ('I can do that because').
The WIK:I procedure is a guided self-assessment in which young people align their strenghs and resources in a process of being empowered and stimulated to self-reflection. The work is orientation towards dialogue and group processes (peer learning) as well as biographical learning.
Benefits and results
The benefit of creating a portfolio for young people lies in making them aware of informally acquired competences and in gaining orientation for further education and career planning, but above all in empowering them to present their personal competences (for example in job interviews).
The WIK:I competence portfolio for young people is a folder containing the worksheets (including data sheets, checklists, questionnaires, posters) that were created during the workshop and during the participants' own work. It provides participants with a competence profile (naming and describing the competences), an action plan (indication of next steps, need for resources and support, timetable), and the competence description or proof of competence for job applications. The focus of the portfolio is individually aligned with the respective goal of its creation. The portfolio can be used as a supplementary application document.