10.2 Administration and governance of youth work
In the absence of a regulatory framework at a national level, the legislative and public policy activity in the field of youth work falls mainly within the competences of the Regional administration. This partly reflects the division of competences in the field of youth policy between the State and the Regions, where the latter have legislative power, on the basis of principles and guidelines laid down by the former (see Chapter 1). Other regional policies also contribute to the governance of the actors and activities that can be included in the field of youth work, in particular:
socio-educational, social work and cultural activities addressed at adolescents (L. 285/1997 "Provisions for the promotion of rights and opportunities for children and adolescents"; L. 328/2000 "Framework law for the implementation of the integrated system of social interventions and services")
- the regulation of professionals also working with young people, although they are not exclusively specialized in this field (e.g., community leader, social worker, professional educators, socio-educational instructor, sport educators etc.) (see 10.5).
Some specific measures have been issued centrally with a direct or indirect impact on non-formal education in the youth field.
One of the first was the L. 206/2003 "Provisions for the recognition of the social function performed by oratories and other facilities carrying out similar activities and for the enhancement of their role".
Moreover, through the National Civic Service established in 2001, the central authorities directly manage a program that promotes voluntary experiences among young people as a non-formal education opportunity. Since its establishment, the educational and training purpose of the Civic Service has always been intertwined with the commitment to provide a useful service to the community ("contribute to the civic, social, cultural and professional training of young people", Law 64/2001, letter e). Moreover, the decree law establishing the new Universal Civil Service (Legislative Decree 40/2017) provides for specific accreditation procedures for the hosting organizations, including the availability of workers specifically trained to accompany young people at an educational and training level (see 10.3 and 10.5).
Other bodies that have so far played a role at national level in the governance of policies having an impact on youth work activities are the Italian Youth Agency (AIG), the National Council for Universal Civic Service, and the National Youth Council.
The Italian Youth Agency promotes the development of youth worker competences and the quality of youth work not only through projects supported by Erasmus+ and the European Solidarity Corps, but also through training events and participation in project partnerships (see 10.5).
The National Council for the Universal Civic Service, in the framework of its advisory function (art. 10 of the Legislative Decree 40 of 2017), also has a consultative function on the educational support to the young volunteers during their service.
The National Youth Council (see chapter 5, paragraph 5.3), a national platform of 71 organizations in the youth sector (L. 145/2018), has included in the action plan 2019-2022 the objective to enhance youth work competences among its members.
In January 2022 there was the first reunion of the National Technical Committee. A group aiming at the in-depth analysis and study of the figure of the Youth Worker, with particular attention to the national context, with the aim of creating action plans and strategies to be shared in the appropriate European premises.
This committee was led by the Department for Youth Policies and Universal civic service, and composed of the Italian Youth Agency, the National Youth Council, the youth division of the National Association of Italian Municipalities (ANCI), the National Informal and Non-Formal Education Association (NINFEA), Eurodesk-Italy, regional authorities and the Italian Youth wiki Expert group.
In the meantime, the absence of a formal recognition of youth work indirectly creates favorable conditions for the development of a cross-sectoral approach. The cooperation between the main policy areas affecting youth work practices – youth, social care, education – have contributed to encouraging youth work projects oriented by a multidisciplinary perspective and involving different professionals (cultural operators, educators, trainers, psychologists, social workers, enterprise creation experts, guidance counsellors etc.).
An inter-sectoral vision of youth work can also be found in the regional laws. For example, the regional law 5/2012 of Friuli Venezia Giulia, in addition to the usual youth policy areas (e.g., housing autonomy, international mobility, cultural activities, active citizenship), includes employment policies, vocational training, interventions for entrepreneurship, health promotion, research and innovation. Cyberbullying is an example of a specific issue that would require greater cooperation between school and non-formal education, as recognized in some regional laws (Friuli Venezia Giulia, PA Trento, Sicilia, Umbria).