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EACEA National Policies Platform


10. Youth work

10.1 General context

Last update: 1 July 2024

Historical Developments

A historical review of Youth Work in Greece, or as it is usually called socio-educational activity for young people, should have its roots in the foundation of the Greek state in the 19th century (1830). Based on the study Youth work in Greece: a historical perspective, Youth Work has been practiced as a social practice in Greece since the 19th century. The first phase concerns the period 1900-1974, the second phase concerns the period 1974-2000 and the last one concerns the current period starting in 2000 and onwards.

In the period from 1900-1974, the first orphanages were established in the urban centers of the country, having as main concern the housing and feeding of the orphans that had arisen from the war. In 1837, the "Polytechnic School" was founded, which was aimed at young men who wished to be trained in technical professions, such as architects or craftsmen. The social, historical and cultural situation is reflected in this period. Gradually, the state acquired a more active role and took more initiatives, such as the regulation of child labour and the compulsory role of education.At the same time, in this particular phase, many forms of socio-educational activities for young people such as sports teams/associations, student, political and religious clubs are developed. 

In the second phase, born with the fall of dictatorship (1974) and the restoration of democracy, important circumstances concerning Youth Work in a broader sense are the state's commitment to the protection of youth, through the legal foundation of state insurance. A development, which for the period could be considered groundbreaking, was the establishment of the General Secretariat of Youth. For the first time, free time and its management takes an important place as a factor of socialization, development and identity acquisition for the youth. The establishment of the General Secretariat of Youth was to monitor and organize policies for the aforementioned purpose.


National Definition and Understanding of youth work

Youth Work is a tool for personal development - social integration and active citizenship and is implemented as a social practice. Although the concept Youth Work is widely used in the international environment, to date there is no official national definition, nor a detailed legal framework for socio-educational activities for young people. In Greece, the general definition of the European Union is adopted. Over time, the development of public intervention policies aimed at youth has been characterized by fragmentation, temporal discontinuity and lack of initiatives to shape tools to regulate the field of quality socio-educational activities for young people. The consequences of this chronic lag were particularly felt in the last decade, when young people were one of the most affected social groups by the consequences of the multifaceted economic crisis and the implementation of the adjustment policies that were formed to deal with them. 

The General Secretariat of Vocational Education and Lifelong Learning of the Ministry of Education, Religious Affairs and Sports is the competent official authority for creating an appropriate institutional framework for Youth Work and Youth Workers.

In the organizational provisions of the General Secretariat of Vocational Education, Training and Lifelong Learning established through Law 4763/220, the structure of the Youth Directorate is described in the following organizational units:

  • Department A Planning and Implementation of Policy and Development Actions for Youth, 

  • Department B Culture and Youth Artistic Creation, 

  • Department C Social Participation, Volunteering and Youth Structures, 

  • Department D European and International Youth Affairs. 

Regarding the responsibilities of Department C, the following are mentioned:

a) support and promotion of volunteerism and the voluntary action of young people at an individual and collective level, 

b) implementation and support of programs and actions in matters of: 

c) organization of thematic seminars for young volunteers, 

d) drafting recommendations for the creation of an institutional framework for the recognition and protection of volunteers, as well as workers with and for young people (Youth Workers), 

e) development and support, at local, regional, national and international level, 

f) preparation and maintenance of a register of voluntary organizations and youth structures, 

g) the research, study and formulation of proposals related to issues of volunteering and youth structures, 

h) the support of vulnerable youth groups, through the implementation of relevant initiatives, actions and programs, such as the "Legal aid for young people" program, with the aim of ensuring the right of defense of young people or their recourse to Justice, 

i) the preparation of recommendations, regarding the planning of actions for the participation of socially vulnerable groups and refugees in programs concerning the youth, 

j) the care and support of young refugees and immigrants, through the implementation of special programs for the creative use of free time, in collaboration with co-competent Ministries.