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EACEA National Policies Platform
Republic of North Macedonia

Republic of North Macedonia

10. Youth work

10.1 General context

Last update: 21 March 2024

Historical developments

In the period when North Macedonia was part of Yugoslavia, youth work was present through the pioneer homes and alliances of the Communist and Socialist youth. The measures and activities implemented by these organizations consisted of scholarships, youth employment programs and housing allocations. The primary values of youth work in that period were: education with a predetermined purpose, promotion of patriotic values, volunteerism, collectivism, brotherhood and unity, etc. (see more Portfolio on Youth Work). 

With the collapse of socialism in the late 1980s and early 1990s, this form of youth work disappeared. As a society in transition, the former Yugoslavia was completely unprepared for the education of young people. The state, as well as the entire region, is responding to the current list of priorities in order to establish economic, political, judicial and social stability.

Since then, significant progress has been made in the field of youth work. Today’s youth work is primarily guided by the CSOs who are learning from the best practices from the western countries. With financial support from foreign and international foundations, several Macedonian associations have attempted to introduce different approaches to youth work based on models from other European countries.

In 2012, the Center for Intercultural Dialogue, with support of National Democratic Institute (NDI), has launched an initiative to recognize and professionalize youth work. As a result of this initiative, the Union for Youth Work was established and is still functioning today. Another result of the initiative was the organization of the first Youth Work Fair which was organized in 2013 in organization of the Center for Intercultural Dialogue, with support of NDI and Agency of Youth and Sport. The Youth Work Fair was intended to raise awareness of the need for professionalization and recognition of youth work, as well as to establish a link between youth work providers and institutions. The event brought together 40 youth job bidders and representatives of institutions who discussed the necessary legal solutions and regulations, as well as defining the capacities and competences of youth job bidders.

This initiative was followed by several other projects aimed at standardizing and professionalizing youth work. As a result of these initiatives, understanding of youth work has increased significantly in the Republic of North Macedonia. In September 2018, for the first time in the history of North Macedonia, the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy adopted the standard of occupation in the field of youth work, under the name Worker with Youth. 

Another major step has been made, when for the first time in Macedonia, students can enroll in the Master's studies in youth work. The first enrolment has been announced for the academic year of 2023/2024. With the program that will be implemented at the Faculty of Philosophy at the University ``St. Cyril and Methodius" (UKIM), students will be able to acquire the title of Master in Youth Work.

The program will include 4 compulsory and 8 optional subjects. Some of the subjects refer to management in youth work, methodology or ways of creating projects and research, mental health of children and youth, children's rights and advocacy, social protection, youth empowerment, psychosocial support, etc.

In June 2021, the Union for Youth Work and the Agency for Youth and Sports awarded certificates to 14 youth workers for a completed adult education program in accordance with the occupational standard Youth Worker. Thus, for the first time in our country, certified professionals were recognized according to one of the profiles of the youth worker, in accordance with the National Portfolio of Youth Workers.

National definition or understanding of Youth Work

Youth Work is defined in Art. 3 in Law on Youth Participation and Youth Policies as: “an organized and systematic process of education and support of authentic development of young people with the aim of fulfilling their overall personal, social and civic potential.”

The same definition may be found in the Portfolio on Youth Work.

On the other hand, Law on Youth Participation and Youth Policies is defining Youth Worker as “qualified persons who have the competencies to work with young people by carrying out activities that support their personal and social development through informal and informal learning.”