4.7 Youth work to foster social inclusion
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In 2016, the youth worker’s professional profile was created in Portugal.
The youth worker is a professional whose work is defined by ‘intervening in the design, organisation, development and evaluation of projects, programmes and activities with and for young people, through domain methodologies of non-formal education, facilitating and promoting citizenship, participation, autonomy, inclusion and personal, social and cultural development’ (Employment and Labour Newsletter BTE no. 45, 2015).
The creation of the youth worker's professional profile has been developed by a work group in the field of youth, under the coordination of the State Secretariat for Youth and Sports and the Portuguese Institute of Sports and Youth, PI (IPDJ, I.P.), with the collaboration of the National Agency for Qualification and Professional Education – Education and Employment and Qualification ANQEP, I.P. It relied on the collaboration of youth associations and youth representative platforms – the National Youth Council (CNJ) and the National Federation of Youth Associations (FNAJ).
The main goal of professional training for youth workers is to qualify professionals that monitor children and young people, which collaborate in organising and developing educational activities, under the supervision of childhood educators/teachers or autonomously.
In regard to youth associations, the Portuguese law distinguishes them from student organisations and defines their responsibilities. The legislative acknowledgment of its genesis is essential for its eligibility in funding applications.
In Portugal, the work with young people is also supported on the basis of volunteering work.
In the field of social inclusion, the cultural mediators are an important factor in the creation of local implementation projects, as is the case in programmes financed by the Choices programme. The cultural mediator is a young person belonging to a certain territory, which, due to his people and training skills, has the ability to develop a connection between the workers of a specific project and the local community.
There are no official mechanisms of keeping track of the number of volunteers and cultural mediators, to gauge if their percentage is higher than the percentage of workers.
In Portugal, the work with young people in associations was recognised and developed after the end of the authoritarian regime in 1974. Until then, every type of association was forbidden.
"Choices Programme” (Programa Escolhas)
The “Choices Programme” (Programa Escolhas) annually finances numerous associations and non-governmental organisations that develop work in the youth field, for the local implementation of targeted projects and actions to promote the social inclusion of children and young people from the most vulnerable socio-economic contexts, particularly descendants of immigrants, ethnic minorities (Roma communities) and Portuguese emigrants.
The programme also promotes the network collaboration with stakeholders and organisations, emphasising collaboration as a way to optimize resources, in the sense that the various partners offer additional economic and material resources.
The intervention strategy at a local level, and in partnership with several entities, allows for a better understanding of young people and their families, which can result in the development of more effective intervention strategies.
In addition to youth associations, immigrants’ associations are one of the partners of projects funded by the “Choices Programme” (Programa Escolhas).
The Portuguese Institute of Sports and Youth, I.P. (IPDJ, I.P.) has also financial incentive programmes and training of human resources and volunteering associations, which can benefit associations that work in the field of social inclusion.
Incentive Programme for the Development of Associations - IDA
The Portuguese Institute of Sports and Youth (IPDJ, I.P.), provides financial support to youth associations and federations that have approved applications under the Internships and Employment measure (see chapter 3 – Employment and Entrepreneurship).
It offers funding to contribute to the costs of internships, at the expense of the association.
The programme’s objective is to support the training of people working for associations that develop work in the youth field.
It is intended for:
- Youth associations or federations, enrolled in the National Register of Youth Associations (RNAJ);
- Associations or federations of students;
- Organisations similar to youth associations registered in RNAJ.
Volunteer work under the Now Us programme (IPDJ programme) developed in partnership with youth associations or federations.
The goal is to provide young people with experience in the world of associations, through a volunteering project. At the same time that they are intervening actively in the community, they are acquiring skills through non-formal education.
Only the associations registered in RNAJ may benefit from this programme.
It is aimed at young people between the ages of 14 and 30.
IPDJ Youth Organizations Support Programmes (PAAJ)
Support programmes for youth associations fostering the development of activities by youth associations, federations, similar organisations and informal youth groups.
The main promoter of the work with young people in the field of social inclusion is ACM, I.P., through the “Choices Programme” (Programa Escolhas).
The “Choices Programme” annually finances locally developed projects that are implemented and developed by youth associations and by public and private entities, based on a socio-community intervention model.
These projects are formed by a local consortium (with at least four local entities), technical teams and community engagers.
The teams must have a coordinator with a higher education.
In addition to the youth workers, the “Choices Programme” foresees and encourages the inclusion of community engagers in local projects, which take on a role of social mediation, because of their connection to the communities. The community engagers are young people, between 19 and 30, from the territories that are being intervened. They need to have, at least, the 9th grade of schooling and, at the most, a frequency of the 12th grade (when the project starts).
The youth worker training is equivalent to a level 4 in the National Qualifications Framework (12th grade or senior year) and it includes:
- A training duration of 1125 h, of which 1025 h are mandatory and 100 h are chosen from a list;
- 500 h consisting of new training modules.
The youth worker integrates the National Qualifications Catalogue, in cooperation with the PNFJ – National Plan of Youth Training, from the Portuguese Institute of Sports and Youth, PI (IPDJ, I.P.).
For professionals that are already working in the youth sector, their recognition can be made through the national process of recognition of competencies acquired throughout life (RVCC).
“Choices Programme” (Programa Escolhas)
In addition to the guidance and monitoring procedures, the “Choices Programme” foresees continuing training to technical teams and community engagers, through a series of initiatives, face-to-face and long-distance.
On top of that, it offers a set of pedagogical support materials – Choices resources –, which has been improved and adapted throughout the existence of the programme, as a result of the internal and external assessment reports.
Erasmus + Youth in Action Programme
In Portugal, the training programmes available to technicians that work with young people are also supported by the Erasmus+ YA programme, which is financed by the European Union.
One of the goals is to develop trainers and youth workers, by promoting cooperation between organisations that develop work among young people.
The action foresees the holding of seminars, courses and other non-formal training activities, as a way of promoting skills’ acquisition and sharing experiences, good practices and certification and qualification models.
Training Programme, IPDJ, I.P.
Training programme promoted by the Portuguese Institute of Sports and Youth, PI (IPDJ, I.P.), for leaders of youth associations registered in the National Register of Youth Associations (RNAJ).
The “Choices Programme” (Programa Escolhas) is financed by the Ministry of Labour, Solidarity and Social Security, through the Institute of Social Security; by the Ministry of Education, through the Directorate-General of Education, and by the European Structural and Investment Funds, in particular through the Operational Programme for Social Inclusion and Employment, under Portugal 2020.
The amounts allocated to each one of the financed projects for each generation of the programme is available online in the “Choices Programme” website.
Some initiatives and support measures for young people at risk of exclusion developed by youth organisations also receive support at a local administration level, through the allocation of financial, material and logistical support, such as providing facilities, transportation for a particular initiative, etc.
The “Choices Programme” (Programa Escolhas) management model foresees a system for monitoring, training, and evaluating financed projects.
AGIL computer application (Application for the Management of Local Information) is the tool used for the follow-up, the continuous and regular monitoring and the assessment of each project (according to a periodicity that is never less than once per week), contemplating the record of activities, listing information and data reports.
Each step of the projects’ development is monitored and evaluated by the coordination team of the “Choices Programme”.
In the case of failing to meet the objectives and goals of a particular project, whether in the practical execution of the measures or at a financial level, actions are set for the suspension and revocation of financing, which, in some cases, may require the return of allocated funds.
Globally, the “Choices Programme” is monitored and evaluated in its entirety by an external and independent entity, employed by the “Choices Programme”, being that the result of the evaluation will be presented to the relevant authority.