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In Denmark, youth worker 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 are no minimum training/qualification standards for third sector youth workers.
One single criterion 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)), people working with children under the age of 15 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.
No dedicated qualification for youth workers covers all types of youth work. In the public sector, the educational background of the majority of persons employed as youth workers is pedagogues, teachers and social workers, which are broad generalist educations and which are both qualified to further educational programmes. The majority of ‘youth workers’ involved in the running of municipal youth clubs, are professionals who have obtained a degree in pedagogy. Some are specialised in youth pedagogy.
Typically, a youth club has a core of youth workers educated in pedagogy and who are supplemented on an hourly basis by people with a specific skill or trade that is of interest to the young users of the club, for example a skater or a rapper.
Sometimes this is a way for a person with a different background to enter youth work, since specific personal skills to handle certain groups of young people can be of high value.
Up until 1997, there was a specific education for training to be a worker at a youth club (a 3-year programme), and some workers at the youth clubs have this educational background. After 1997, the specific youth worker education only exists as a way of specialising after completing the more general education in pedagogy.
Most youth NGOs are run entirely or almost entirely by volunteers. Some youth NGOs do 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/session basis.
The SSP cooperation (see section 4.2 and 4.5) offers education to youth workers at youth clubs on influencing the mindset of young people on subjects such as substance abuse, handling of fireworks, etc.
The DUF, Youth Ring (Ungdomsringen), the association for youth schools, as well as the two national sports federations DGI and DIF all arrange competence development offers for their member organisations. For more information on the associations, see section 10.2.
There is no specific national procedure for the validation of skills gained by youth workers. In Denmark, there is a system of general competence assessment that can be used for all types of competences gained through non-formal, informal, and employment activities, which also includes voluntary activities in organisations. Youth workers can use the general competence assessment when they wish to enrol in formal education programmes where they do not meet the formal admission requirements. See section 6.4 and 2.7.
There is no national mobility programme dedicated to youth workers.
A range of organisations distribute profits from the national lottery and football pools (udlodningsmidlerne) for youth and sports associations. The funding may support projects that involve mobility of youth workers either nationally or internationally.
- The DUF distributes national funding for children and youth associations. The DUF administers an international pool that can fund mobility for youth workers:
- ‘Explore’ is a recurring course with the purpose of kick-starting international cooperation and engagement.
- Youth leader (financed with the MENA pool): Every year, the DUF educates youth leaders who are in the 18–30-year age group and who participate in international mobility for 3–12 months. 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.
- The DUF arranges networks for youth workers: Networking for chairpersons and top board members, networking for employees and advisors, networking for secretariat directors, networking for non-formal general adult education, and networking for international coordinators.
- DGI arranges trainer courses for young trainers.
- The Youth School Association (Ungdomsskoleforeningen) offers networking opportunities for youth school workers.
- The Youth Ring (Ungdomsringen) offers pedagogical courses aimed at developing the 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 in order to improve the work in specific projects or activities in the local youth clubs.
Youth workers can apply for funding through the Erasmus+ mobility for youth workers.