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EACEA National Policies Platform


10. Youth work

10.8 Current debates and reforms

Last update: 28 November 2023
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  1. Forthcoming policy developments
  2. Ongoing debates


The occupational field of facilitation is currently undergoing profound changes; this is resulting in a broadening of the field in which facilitators operate and changes in how they work. These changes are redefining the role and functions of youth facilitators.


Forthcoming policy developments

Convention/conference on youth work

A convention on youth work was held in November 2021 on the initiative of the Secretary of State for Youth. This work resulted in a governmental plan for a renewed approach on youth work in groups of minors. This plan, gathering all the actors of the sector, aims to:

-reinforce the link between formal and non-formal education

-reflect on the development prospects of voluntary youth work

-follow youth workers in the evolution of the sector.

For more information see "Intersectorial cooperation"

Universel National Service

The national universal service is directed to all young French people between 15 and 17 years-old.

The programme includes a two-week "cohesion stay", during which young people are accommodated together and take part in introductory courses in first aid, citizenship, the Highway Code, physical and cohesion activities, discovery of the local cultural heritage, etc. This is followed by a two-week "mission of general interest", during which young people are given the task of helping a host organisation (retirement home, association, uniformed corps, etc.). Young people aged between 16 and 25 can then pursue a period of voluntary service lasting between 3 months and 1 year.

The Universal National Service expanded in 2022, with three sessions and 32,200 people enrolled in the centres. In 2023, it will continue to grow by.

Several popular education associations have signed partnership agreements with the Ministry of National Education and Youth. These associations are helping to develop the scheme by contributing their expertise. For example, the Animafac network of student associations and the Junior-association network are keen to promote the creation of youth associations by young people themselves as part of the SNU.

The content of the cohesion stay and the mission of general interest aim to enable the young participants to acquire a range of practical and behavioural knowledge and skills, focusing on three major issues:

- Strengthening the nation's resilience

- Developing social cohesion

- Promoting a culture of commitment

In 2022, a communication campaign on the BAFA diploma was carried out for young people doing universal national service.


 Ongoing debates

Initial remark: the debates presented here are just examples.

A fall in the numbers of children attending summer camps (colonies de vacances)

Until 2022, France was experiencing a structural decline in the number of young people taking part in collective camps/childcare (1.4 million young people in holiday camps in 2021, compared with 4 million in 1960), which was accompanied by a fall in the number of people taking voluntary leadership qualifications (BAFA and BAFD), from 50,000 graduates between 2011 and 2019 to 35,000 graduates in 2021. However, in 2022, the number of BAFAs awarded rose by 37% to reach a total of 50,000 diplomas.

The precariousness of jobs in the activity sector

In 2018, a report by the Superior council of territorial public service (Conseil supérieur de la fonction publique territoriale) noted that the lack of recognition and recognition of the value of the 'voluntary animation' professions is the subject of debate among the animators themselves.  The latter, and more specifically those without professional qualifications*, denounce the precariousness of their status, due in particular to the instability of their situation and the low level of their remuneration. This trend still seems realistic in France, and is one of the subjects of research and work by the Youth work convention, which was set up in 2022 and whose first data and statistics are due to be published in 2023.

*Voluntary facilitators generally hold “non-vocational qualifications” such as the BAFA – Facilitator’s Certificate of Aptitude (Brevet d’Aptitude aux Fonctions d’Animateur) and the BAFD - Director’s Certificate of Aptitude (Brevet d’Aptitude aux Fonctions de Directeur).