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EACEA National Policies Platform


10. Youth work

10.5 Youth workers

Last update: 28 November 2023
On this page
  1. Status in national legislation
  2. Education, training and skills recognition
  3. Mobility of youth workers


Status in national legislation


N.B. This chapter will focus on socio-educational/socio-cultural facilitators; in France, these come under the definition of “youth workers”, which is more widely used than that of “facilitator”.

There are various statuses for youth work, from regulated professional activity to voluntary activity subject to the award of a diploma (BAFA BAFD), and all are unequally recognised.  Youth workers can be volunteers, salaried employees or local civil servants. These statuses are defined in particular by the qualifications obtained by the leaders. The training system is organised around three categories of qualifications: non-professional, professional and university.

It must be stressed that qualifications are not required for socio-educational activities. In fact the law allows employers to recruit unqualified staff; however, they must ensure that 80 % of supervisors “have degrees, qualifications or certificates that appear on the list drawn up by the Minister for Youth”.

Professional qualifications

The professional certificate on youth, non-formal education and sports (CPJEPS)


The CPJEPS is a professional diploma registered in the national professional certificates guide and classified at level 3 of the nomenclature of certification levels established in application of article L. 6113-1 of the French Labour Code. It attests to the acquisition of a qualification in the exercise of a responsible professional activity with an educational or social aim, in the fields of physical, sporting, socio-educational or cultural activities.

Possession of the diploma referred to in Article 1 certifies that the holder is capable of :

- Participate in the project and in the life of the centre;

- Lead daily group activities;

- Design activities for a group;

- Lead activities for a group.

The "activity and daily life leader" option of the professional certificate for youth, popular education and sport enables its holder to perform the duties of an activity and daily life leader. Activity and daily life leaders work mainly in group childcare facilities (after-school care, leisure centres, holiday camps). They may also work in any structure that organises leisure and socio-cultural activities.

The BPJEPS - Vocational Certificate in Youth, Non-Formal Education and Sport (Brevet professionnel de la jeunesse, de l’éducation populaire et du sport)

The BPJEPS is a vocational qualification that allows its holder to work in an educational or social capacity within the fields of sport, social education or culture. The certificate offers two specialisms: facilitator and sports instructor. A number of different options are available within each specialism, such as: “Leisure for All” (“Loisirs Tous Publics”), “Social Activities” (“Animation Sociale”), “Cultural Activities” (“Animation Culturelle”) and “Physical Activity for All” (“Activités Physiques pour Tous”).

The Order of 18 July 2016, which provides details of the specialism “Leisure for All” (“loisirs tous publics”) within the Vocational Certificate in Youth, Non-Formal Education and Sport (brevet professionnel de la jeunesse, de l’éducation populaire et du sport), specifies (in Article 2) the skills required from a facilitator with a BPJEPS qualification:

“Possession of a qualification containing the title […] certifies that, in his/her work as an independent instructor, the holder applies the following skills:

  • “Supervising members of the public at any location and within any centre, based on public demand and the local area”;
  • “Designing and introducing projects for activities that form part of a centre’s projects”;
  • “Leading initiatives to promote activities that fall within the scope of “Leisure for All” and managing an ACM - Community Centre for Minors (accueil collectif de mineurs)”;
  • “Using non-formal education approaches in his/her facilitation of exploratory, scientific and technical, cultural and expression-based activities, and physical leisure activities”;
  • Helping members of the public to use digital technology, as part of a public-spirited and inclusive approach.

Legal text

Decree No. 2016-527 of 27 April 2016 relating to the Vocational Certificate in Youth, Non-Formal Education and Sport (brevet professionnel de la jeunesse, de l’éducation populaire et du sport);

DEJEPS - State Diploma in Youth, Non-Formal Education and Sport (Diplôme d’État de la jeunesse, de l’éducation populaire et du sport)

The DEJEPS’s specialism in socio-educative and cultural activities is available in two versions: “Social Activities” (“animation sociale”) and “Developing Projects, Regions and Networks” (“développement de projets, territoires et réseaux”). The DEJEPS prepares its students for careers as facilitators within associations or companies.

Possession of this qualification with the title “Social Activities” (“Animation Sociale”), is proof of the following skills:

  • using a non-formal educational approach to designing activities within centres providing social services;
  • working as part of a team with professionals with different qualifications and work cultures;
  • taking individuals into account in community initiatives, and providing a social service which includes individual support for members of the public who are excluded or isolated socially or at work;
  • coordinating projects for activities which take account of the requirements of disabled, dependent or excluded members of the public;
  • leading training initiatives with other professionals and volunteers (bénévoles).

Possession of a diploma with the title “Developing Projects, Regions and Networks” (“développement de projets, territoires et réseaux”) is proof of the following skills:

  • managing the introduction of projects for activities based on the values of non-formal education;
  • supporting a team in its work;
  • organising partnerships;
  • introducing inclusive approaches to non-formal education;
  • supporting the involvement of volunteers (bénévoles);
  • organising the use of resources;
  • providing training courses for his/her team.

Legal texts

Council of State Decree No. 2015-1527 of 24 November 2015 relating to the Vocational Certificate, the State Diploma and the Higher State Diploma in Youth, Non-Formal Education and Sport.

Amended Order of 20 November 2006 on the organisation of the State Diploma in Youth, Non-Formal Education and Sport with the specialism “Socio-Educational and Cultural Activities” (“animation socio-éducative ou culturelle”).

DES JEPS - Higher State Diploma in Youth, Non-Formal Education and Sport (Diplôme d’État supérieur de la jeunesse, de l’éducation populaire et du sport)

Coordinators wishing to manage community centres or coordinate activity projects may take managerial training courses, including the Higher State Diploma in Youth, Non-Formal Education and Sport (Diplôme d’État supérieur de la jeunesse, de l’éducation populaire et du sport). Holders of the DESJEPS with the title “Management of Centres and Projects” (“direction de structure et de projet”) act as independent supervisors, employing the technical support and policy defined in their specialism.

Possession of the Diploma is proof of the following skills within the field of socio-educational and cultural activities:

  • bringing together the various partners to design development projects linked to the values of non-formal education;
  • designing inclusive approaches and approaches that involve non-formal education;
  • assisting elected bodies in formalising development projects;
  • analysing regional issues so that they are reflected in a centre’s initiatives;
  • designing training priorities for all those involved in a centre or a development project;
  • organising training initiatives for instructors via an organisation’s professional networks.

Legal texts

Council of State Decree No. 2015-1527 of 24 November 2015 relating to the Vocational Certificate, State Diploma and the Higher State Diploma in Youth, Non-Formal Education and Sport.

- Order of the 27 April 2007 on the creation of the DES JEPS option “Management of Centres and Projects” (“direction de structure et de projet”)

Non-vocational qualifications

Non-vocational qualifications relate to voluntary activities. Nevertheless, they play an essential role in terms of access to the professional activity sector.

Non-professional qualifications: the diploma for the youth work qualification to the function of facilitator (Brevet d'aptitude aux fonctions d'animateur -BAFA) and the diploma for youth work qualification to the function of director (Brevet d'aptitude aux fonctions de directeur -BAFD) make up a very large proportion of the qualifications in youth work issued by the Ministry for Youth. In 2021, according to a comparative study by Injep, 33,554 BAFA diplomas and 1,434 BAFD diplomas were awarded. The number of BAFA diplomas has been falling since 2020 (30,970 diplomas), after having been around 50,000 for 20 years.

Women are in the majority when it comes to obtaining these qualifications. They account for around 70% of BAFA/ BAFD graduates in 2021.

The BAFA - Facilitator’s Certificate of Aptitude (Brevet d’aptitude aux fonctions d’animateur)

The Facilitator’s Certificate of Aptitude (Brevet d’aptitude aux fonctions d’animateur), known as the BAFA, is a non-professional qualification required for the supervision of young people within Community Centres for Minors (accueils collectifs de mineurs), and holiday and leisure centres.

 BAFA training prepares its students for 5 areas of responsibility:

1) “guaranteeing the physical and moral safety of minors”;

2) “as part of a team, helping to introduce projets pédagogiques that are in line with projets éducatifs, in accordance with the rules governing ACMs”;

3) “taking part in activities, communications and the development of relationships between all those involved”;

4) “supervising and coordinating the daily routine and the activities”;

5) “helping minors to complete their projects”.


In addition, the course aims to develop four skills:

1) “the sharing and passing on of the Republic’s values, including secularism”;

2) “the making of a commitment appropriate to the social, cultural and educational context”;

3) “The building of strong individual or collective relationships with members of the team of instructors and with the minors, and helping to prevent all forms of discrimination”;

4) “where necessary, being able to provide appropriate solutions in situations involving minors”.


The BAFD - Director’s Certificate of Aptitude (Brevet d’aptitude aux fonctions de directeur)

 The BAFD – Director’s Certificate of Aptitude (Brevet d’aptitude aux fonctions de directeur) allows holders of the BAFA to supervise children and teenagers at holiday and leisure centres.

BAFD training prepares directors for carrying out the following duties:

  • “along with his/her team of facilitators, developing and introducing pedagogic projects (projets pédagogiques) that are in line with educational projects (projets éducatifs), in accordance with the rules governing Community Centres for Minors (accueils collectifs de mineurs), including catering for minors with health problems or disabilities”;
  • “making a commitment appropriate to the social, cultural and educational context”;
  • “coordinating and training a team of facilitators”;
  • “directing staff and managing a centre”;
  • “developing partnerships and communication”.


Article D 432-10 et seq of the CASF – Social Action and Family Code (code de l’action sociale et des familles)

Order of 15 July 2015 relating to certificates of aptitude for the duties of facilitator and director at Community Centres for Minors (accueils collectifs de mineurs)

 Education, training and skills recognition


Training courses that lead to professional qualifications relating to the duties and profession of facilitator are organised by training organisations that have been approved by the Ministries for Youth and Sport’s decentralised services. These organisations are authorised by the government to run training courses that lead to State Youth and Sports qualifications, including facilitator’ qualifications (BAPAAT, CPJEPS, BPJEPS, DEJEPS, DESJEPS).

The organisation of these training courses and the approval and certification process are covered by Articles R.212-10-1 to R.212-10-19 of the Sports Code.

The training organisations that prepare students for all these qualifications (vocational and non-vocational) may be private, voluntary — such as the Francas and the CEMEAs (non-formal education movements) — or public, such as the CREPSs – Centres for Expertise and Sports Performance Resources (centres de Ressources d’Expertise et de Performance Sportive) which are attached to the Ministry of Sport.

For more information, see Chapter 10.5 "Youth workers", "Status in national legislation".


The Validation of Learning through Volunteering

There are other ways of obtaining training and gaining facilitator’s qualifications.

Through bénévolat work with young people, a coordinator may ask for a validation, an acknowledgement of his/her experiences as a volunteer which may give him/her access to a training course (or on parts of these courses). This scheme is used in the BAFA. For example, in partnership with the IFAC – Training, Facilitation and Consultancy Institute (institut de formation, d’animation et de conseil), a national association, Paris City Hall has set up the “BAFA Citizen” (“BAFA citoyen”) scheme; this scheme gives young people the opportunity to trade 30 hours of bénévolat for part of the BAFA course.

The Validation of Learning through Volunteering (Validation des Acquis de l'Expérience Bénévole), established by Law No. 2002-73 of 17 January 2002, allows anyone, regardless of age, education or status, “to validate their experience of bénévolat or volunteering for the purpose of obtaining a diploma, qualification or vocational certificate, or to gain access to training without having to provide proof of a required level of education”.


VAE The Validation of Learning through Experience (La Validation des acquis de l’expérience)

The Validation of Learning through Experience (validation des acquis de l'expérience) is an individual right that is listed both in the Labour Code (Code du travail) and in the Education Code (Code de l'éducation): "anyone who works has the right to have their professional experience validated, for the purpose of obtaining a diploma, a professional title or a certificate of qualification."

It is thus aimed at anyone who wishes to have his/her professional achievements or experience as a bénévole recognised in the form of a qualification or professional title. The VAE is open to everyone, regardless of age, status (employees, artisans, bénévoles, the self-employed, temporary workers, etc.) or required levels of training. The only requirement is proof of at least one year of experience which is directly related to the content and level of the qualification a person wishes to obtain.

Only vocational qualifications listed in the RNCP - National Register of Professional Qualifications (Répertoire National des Certifications Professionnelles) can be obtained via the VAE.

The « citizen commitment account » (compte d’engagement citoyen-CEC)

Another possibility to highlight skills acquired during youth work and volunteering is the citizen engagement/volunteering account that tracks credit points for skills.

This account has been created by the August 8 2016 law “law on work”. It aims to recognise and the highlight personal engagement and volunteering including missions in youth work, of persons with a certain level of responsibility in these projects.

It allows, under certain conditions of eligibility, to give access to supplementary rights and credits for training on the personal training account (compte professionnel formation-see glossary).

The volunteers who wish to benefit from this account have to declare their activities on the online service « volunteer account » (compte bénévole).

Starting 2023, persons having a BAFA diploma can also highlight their skills on the Parcoursup national platform to apply to universities and third degree education.


Mobility of youth workers


Facilitators, particularly those with BAFA or BAFD qualifications, may benefit from the training courses or experience abroad offered by facilitator training centres (associations and companies) that use the Erasmus+ Youth and Sport scheme, and specifically the “Mobility of individuals for education and training purposes (mobilité des individus à des fins d’éducation et de formation)” component of the European scheme.

These training centres offer to “develop” the BAFA and BAFD abroad; the aim is also to train facilitators to be able to “facilitate a holiday abroad” and in particular handle the intercultural aspect of events involving young participants of different nationalities.

The Franco-German Youth Office (Office franco-allemand pour la jeunesse), for example, offers the “BAFA-JuLeiCa” training scheme, intended for those who wish to become facilitators of youth events; it is recognised both by the BAFA and by its German equivalent, the Jugendleiter/In-Card. This course complies with existing regulations in both countries and therefore leads to a dual qualification.

The Franco-Quebec office for youth offers training programs as well for young people having the BAFA diploma.

Furthermore, the « youth » part of the Erasmus+ programme allows for the funding of mobility programmes for youth workers (and professionals in the field). In 2021, 2.9 million euros were allocated to fund 44 mobility projects gathering 3 641 participants.

In the context of the French presidency of the EU Council, France also supported a recommendation among the European council linked to mobility of young volunteers in the EU. This text encourages the training of socio-educative youth workers as well as transnational volunteering experiences. In the same timeframe, France encouraged Conclusions in favour of the engagement of young people as actors of change to protect the environment as well. This text supported offering access to training and skills recognition to youth workers.