10.8 Current debates and reforms
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After the expired National Youth Programme in 2017, The Central State Office for Demography and Youth is expected to finalize the new national programme, and its adoption by the government should happen in 2022. Youth work will have a more prominent place in the new programme in comparison to the old one.
Also, during 2020 the SEEYW project initiated the process of developing occupational and qualification standards for the youth worker profession. This will pave way for the development of formal and non-formal education and training programmes for youth workers and further professionalization of the field.
In 2021 and beyond University of Rijeka is expected to host a life-long and a tertiary level education programme for youth workers based on the findings of the SEEYW project.
The current state of youth work development in Croatia is characterised by a strong initiative towards the professionalization of youth work, driven by a group of youth workers, researchers and other experts. This primarily focuses on the development of basic professional standards in youth work practice and the training of youth workers with the aim of raising the quality and the scope of youth work provision. This initiative still has to get a wider support from youth work organizations and youth workers across the country. There are opposing voices who fear that professionalization of youth work would kill the volunteering base on which most of youth work in Croatia still rests. Another fear is that professionalization would push aside existing youth workers who will not have a formal qualification but possess youth work competences and experience. This process will also touch upon other related professions which share some feature of youth work and it will be necessary to jointly explore and negotiate boundaries, as well as points of convergence. Another big issue that should be explored is the impact of professionalization on the education system and the labour market.
Therefore, the next couple of years should be devoted to creating spaces for conversation between youth workers, youth organizations, young people, decision-makers, representatives of education system, labour market experts, researchers, practitioners in related professions and all other interested parties who might contribute to the inclusiveness and the quality of the process.