10.7 Raising awareness about youth work
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Public authorities at the national, regional and local levels share information about youth work as part of their statutory duties, according to the Youth Act. For example, Koordinaatti offers training for youth work professionals in youth information and counselling related to youth work and youth policy, by creating collaborative projects and trainings, and by publishing and offering a platform for the distribution of different kinds of materials. Koordinaatti’s cooperation partners in Finland are different ministries, the Youth Work Centres of Expertise, regional actors and networks as well as national youth organisations municipalities and educational institutions. International collaborators are, for example, ERYICA - the European Youth Information and Counselling Agency, the Nordic-Baltic network for youth information and counselling, and the USE-IT network.
Municipal Youth Work Development Network Kanuuna (Cannon) advocates for municipal youth work and serves youth work professionals throughout the country. Kanuuna’s objective is to strengthen expertise and cooperation in the field of municipal youth work, increase awareness of the work and the production of information as well as develop and model quality assessment of youth work.
The Finnish National Youth Council Allianssi is a national service and advocacy organisation for the youth sector. They are a lobbying organisation with no political or religious affiliation, and their membership consists of over 140 national youth and education sector organisations. They advocate for the well-being of young people and for sufficient resources for the youth sector, implement campaigns, train and bring together the actors and professionals of youth sector and provide information for various audiences.
In Finland the key initiatives in terms of raising awareness about youth work lie more at the strategical level, because it has the status of a statutory service and its nation-wide availability is assessed by the Regional State Administration Agencies (see Glossary). To exemplify some recent development related to awareness raising about youth work, here are two examples — both of which are discussed below in more detail:
As researcher Tomi Kiilakoski argues in Youth Work Education in Finland published by Finnish Youth Research Society and Youth Research Network, one of the most popular current topics of youth work is increased multi-professional co-operation. According to Kiilakoski, what is important is that youth work is mentioned in the national core curriculum of Finland as a potential partner to schools. The curriculum also emphasises youth participation, children’s rights and the importance of connecting schools to non-formal learning, which creates good opportunities for youth work to be a part of multi-professional teams in schools (National Agency of Education 2014). Youth work is also included in multi-professional networks in the field of social inclusion, child welfare and policy, employment, counselling for young people outside education and labour markets and crime prevention, to name only a few, Kiilakoski wrote. Youth workers and representatives of the youth work administration from local authorities also usually have an active role in running the coordination body for multi-professional co-operation.
Another example comes from South-West Finland where the Regional State Administration Agency has funded a pilot project to Taking the multifaceted evaluation tool into use developed for open youth work. During the evaluation cycle, various kinds of data-gathering methods are used, including interactive ones. During the process both young people and local decision-makers, as well as those who produce youth work services such as youth workers, are made aware of the level of quality involved youth work services and how their availability should be supported, for example, by making changes in how the information about them is distributed to and by young people. The piloting bodies are municipalities, non-governmental youth organisations and parishes that are testing the tool by evaluating a youth work service they offer with the tool. While most of the open youth work services that have been evaluated are produced in face to face contact with young people as “near-services”, and while other services are online, the aim is for the tool to be fine-tailored to suit both types of services during the process. The Finnish Youth Research Society and Youth Research Network participates in facilitating the project by sharing the research expertise it has regarding the evaluation of youth work. Results of this piloting project will be reported in the end of 2021.