10.5 Youth workers
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Once a year the Ministry of Education and Science of Latvia studies the situation in municipalities (surveying municipalities), asking representatives of municipalities to send information about youth work at the local level – institutions involved, planning documents developed, NGOs active in the field, main statistical data about youth, etc.
There are no other regular youth work research activities.
According to the survey done at the beginning of 2019, in total 356 persons involved in youth work (youth affairs specialists, youth workers and others) are employed in local municipalities.
There are no quality standards for youth work and youth workers, but there are occupational profile standards for youth affairs specialists and youth workers (at the start of 2020 the standards will be renewed). Standards define needed competencies, education, and experience for those working in these professions.
The education and training of persons engaged in youth work in Latvia is regulated by the Cabinet of Ministers Regulation No. 1047 “Procedure for Training of Youth Affairs Specialists” (hereinafter - Cabinet of Ministers Regulations No. 1047) and the objectives, which are aimed at education and qualification of persons involved in youth work, are defined in the Youth Policy Implementation Plan 2016-2020. year.
A youth affairs specialist is a person who plans, carries out and coordinates youth work. He works with those involved in youth policy. Develops proposals at the local level for the development of youth policy, implements and coordinates information and education activities, projects and programs in the field of youth policy, promotes civic education of young people, promotes youth volunteering and participation in decision-making and public life, advises young people, the development and implementation of projects and programs, and contributes to the personal development of young people. A youth worker is a person who works with youth, involving young people in the implementation and evaluation of youth work; provide activities and useful leisure activities for young people at the local level; participates in the implementation of international events and projects, advises young people on topical issues; ensure the availability and circulation of information on youth policy issues.
The Youth Law states that to obtain the knowledge and skills necessary for performing his professional duties, a youth affairs specialist shall, within two years from the day he has taken up employment or been recruited, take a training programme for a youth affairs specialist for a minimum of 80 academic hours. The content of this training programme is defined in regulations of the Cabinet of Ministers (issued under the Youth Law). However, as the financial capacity of the Ministry of Education and Science is restricted, not all youth affairs specialists have the opportunity to enter this training programme.
According to the data of the Ministry of Education and Science, the following number of youth affairs specialists have completed mandatory training:
- 2010 – 25 youth affairs specialists
- 2011 – No data
- 2012 – No data
- 2013 – 43 youth affairs specialists
- 2014 – 20 youth affairs specialists
- 2015 – 18 youth affairs specialists
- 2016 – 23 youth affairs specialists
- 2017 - 23 youth affairs specialists
- 2018 - 26 youth affairs specialists
- 2019 - 24 youth affairs specialists
At the end of 2018, a new training program for Youth workers were developed and 24 of them finished the training program in 2019.
At end of 2019, 20 youth workers started the training (they are supposed to finish the program in mid of 2020.
Numerous local experience-sharing seminars provide a similar contribution to the professional development of youth workers. Such seminars are another way of ensuring the professional development of those involved in youth work. For example, the Youth Capital of Latvia has the task of organizing an experience exchange seminar with youth actors in its municipality each year to set a good example, promote the development of competencies and networking among youth workers.
Youth Workers' Mobility Projects aim to promote the professional development of youth workers in an international environment, thereby enhancing the capacity of the organizations involved and enhancing youth work. Youth workers' mobility activities are based on the principles and methods of non-formal education, incl. using the Youthpass learning assessment tool in the learning process. At the end of the project, each participant has the opportunity to receive a Youthpass certificate.
In addition, between 2017 and 2019, the National Agency for International Programs for Youth has provided long-term, individualized support to 29 municipal youth practitioners and youth workers on developing a youth work planning document and improving the quality of youth work. In 2019, support through the process of supervision was provided for 11 municipal youth affairs specialists.
In 2018, the National Agency has provided 1100 youngsters and youth workers the chance for to participate in 90 national and international events on topics such as social inclusion, youth work in municipalities, human rights education, intercultural education, volunteering, youth participation, etc.