10.5 Youth workers
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In Denmark, youth work is not a recognised profession, and the term is not widely used. Therefore, the term youth worker applies to everyone working with young people and not only to professionals.
There is no formal requirement regarding training or qualification standards for youth workers operating in either the third sector or in youth schools and youth clubs.
The only criterion that applies to everyone in contact with children and young people under the age of 15 according to the Act on Children’s Certificate (Børneattestloven, Lbk nr 362 af 02/04/2014 ), is that they cannot have any previous record of sexual offences involving children. Therefore, before employing people in contact with children and young people under the age of 15, the candidate must show a children’s certificate.
There is no formal education to become a youth worker, and it is not possible to obtain a professional degree in youth work.
In the public sector, the educational background of the majority of people employed as youth workers is a bachelor’s in social education (professionsbachelor som pædagog) which is a broad generalist course with a focus on competencies related to the development of and care for children, young people and adults in various settings. After the basic programme, students may specialise in “school and leisure time pedagogy” (skole- og fritidspædagogik) which targets children and young people in the 6-18 year age group. The programme focuses on the development, well-being and learning of children and young people, especially in relation to identity formation, social relations, communities (fællesskaber) and inclusion.
However, it is not a formal requirement, and municipalities are free to employ whoever they consider suitable. For leisure time activities/non-formal learning activities, there are no formal requirements regarding education/qualification or work experience. Youth schools have the liberty to choose who they employ.
Typically, a municipal youth club has a core team of youth workers that have a bachelor’s in social education or are teachers. The core personnel are supplemented by people with specific skills which are of interest to the young users of the club, for example, craftsmen, artists or musicians who are passionate about their work and can facilitate social and personal development and be role models to the young people.
Most youth NGOs are run entirely or almost entirely by volunteers. Some youth NGOs employ staff, but they are rarely youth workers or individuals involved in the delivery of youth work. Instead, most of them are administrators and other professionals employed to run the NGO from an administrative, strategic or financial perspective. Most of the individuals who work directly with young people are volunteers or are paid to work on a part-time/per-session basis.
Training for continuous professional development
For third sector youth workers, the DUF, Youth Ring (Ungdomsringen), the association for youth schools (ungdomsskoleforeningen), as well as the two national sports federations DGI and DIF, all arrange competence development courses for their member organisations. For more information on the associations, see section 10.2. The DUF arranges networks for youth workers, such as networking for chairpersons and top board members, networking for employees and advisors, networking for secretariat directors, networking for non-formal general education and networking for international coordinators. Furthermore, DUF offers five learning programmes and courses to their member organisations which all work with children and young people.
For youth work in municipal youth schools and youth clubs, The Youth School Association (Ungdomsskoleforeningen) offers networking opportunities for youth school workers.
The Youth Ring (Ungdomsringen) offers pedagogical courses aimed at developing youth workers’ professional competency and people skills so that youth workers are better equipped when working with young people. Furthermore, the Youth Ring offers courses in project management to improve working on specific projects or activities in the local youth clubs.
There is no specific national procedure to validate skills gained by youth workers. Youth workers may use prior learning assessment (realkompetencevurdering) to document skills and competencies gained through youth work. Prior learning assessment generally relates to skills gained in non-formal and informal learning. For more information, see sections 2.7 and 6.4.
There is no national mobility programme dedicated to youth workers.
A number of organisations distribute profits from the national lottery and football pools (udlodningsmidlerne) for youth and sports associations. The funding may support projects involving the mobility of youth workers either nationally or internationally. The Danish Youth Council (DUF) distributes national funding for organisations working with children and young people. DUF administers an international pool that can fund mobility for youth workers. ‘Explore’ is a recurring course with the purpose to kick-start international cooperation and engagement in DUF member organisations. The Explore programme consists of an introductory course in which youth workers are trained in international cooperation and project management. As an integrated part of the Explore programme, youth workers visit the country DUF has chosen as an ‘Explore country’. One of the purposes of mobility is to find partner organisations for future international youth projects.
Every year, the DUF offers organisations the opportunity to send educated youth leaders in the 18–30 age group on international mobility activities for 3–12 months. The programme is called Youth Leader. The Danish organisation to which the young person belongs and the partner organisation must enter into an equal partnership, and the youth leader plays a vital role in this process.
Youth workers can apply for funding through the Erasmus+ mobility programme for youth workers.
In addition, it is possible to participate in various international training activities mediated by SALTO-YOUTH.