10.5 Youth workers
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Status in national legislation
The first reference to the youth worker – but through the activities implemented – comes with the National Youth Law. In 2012, the Occupational Standard for the Youth Workers had been defined. According to this standard, the youth worker mobilizes young people in order to develop their life skills and behaviors, stimulating the associative life and cooperation among young people, facilitating their participation in the community life.
The practitioners of this occupation represent resources for young people, for NGOs and communities and they carry out activities related to information, guidance and support for young people, facilitating, in the same time, their social insertion and their personal development in the context of enhancing human, cultural diversity and promoting active citizenship.
The competences of the Youth Worker are based on the principles and values of multiculturalism and human diversity together with the integrated approach of the directions of action in the social, cultural, educational and leisure time spheres. The youth worker organizes the activities within a general project of an association or foundation or within the framework of activities of a local or central public organization that has responsibilities in the youth field. The Youth worker can work for one of these organizations and its involvement starts from planning the activity until the final evaluation. The youth worker coordinates, monitors and prepares the report of the ongoing activities.
The youth worker acts by encouraging young people to get involved with different activities that would support their inclusion in the society by facilitating the process of informal and non-formal learning for young people. Through these learning approaches enacted, young people get involved with relevant learning opportunities that would then contribute to their personal and professional development. These activities would as well lead to the advancement of youth policies in the respective community.
The youth workers can be either employees of the respective organization or can be volunteers leading youth groups. In terms of occupational areas covered, the Standard includes the ones trained in social pedagogy, community development specialist, socio-education animators, and social workers. Within the wider occupational sphere, the youth worker is assimilated to the group – Specialists in social work or similarly trained.
In terms of competencies, the Occupational Standard looks both at the general competencies and also to the specific ones. In terms of key competencies, the ones included in the Standard the 8 key competencies for Life-long learning while the terms of general competencies the following ones are set:
- Planning the activities
- Applying the legal measures regarding work security and health standards when it comes to emergency situations.
- Applying the regulations regarding the environment protection
- Working in a team
- Communicating with the beneficiaries
The specific competencies included are:
- Able to draft the personal and professional plans
- Informing the beneficiaries
- Supporting the nonformal learning process within the youth group
- Developing cooperation mechanisms in the working community.
Education, training and skills recognition
In order to become a youth worker, one should go through a 5 days course that is being delivered by a private entity - Schultz Consulting. The company developed and accredited the first certified course for Youth Workers in Romania and over 900 persons – teachers, employees of different organizations or volunteers were part of these courses. Most of the trained youth workers benefit of the training activity within the project - funded by the European Social Fund: ‘Constructing ‘the youth worker’ institution for a better insertion of young people in the society’. Nowadays, the private entity would organize the course and the conditions to follow the course are related to completing at least the high-school studies. After completing this course, the participants receive the Certificate of Youth Worker that is being recognized by the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, the Ministry of Education and the National Authority for Qualifications. The certificate recognises the skills and competencies required to practice the profession of Youth Worker – COR Code 341205.
For the ones who completed their BA studies in fields related to the definition existent in the Occupational Standard, starting with 2016, the University of Timisoara together with the Ministry of Youth and Sports started a course on training and professional development entitles ‘The management of the educational resources for young people’. The course addresses the ones who are already active in the youth field, implementing educational projects, programmes and activities for young people.
Within the Ministry of Youth and Sport, through it’s Programme (P2) that aims to support the youth actions, initiatives that targeted the training of youth workers were granted.
Starting with 2020, the Ministry of Youth and Sport became an authorized provider of youth work training, by 2020, the qualification being issued only by private entities. In 2020 and 2021, the Ministry had been training youth workers (COR Code 341205), having trained both employees of the Ministry and of its subordinates and also members of nongovernmental organizations who joined the Ministry’s training activities.
Other initiatives developed by the Ministry, as recorded buy the institutions that informed the Youth Wiki correspondent, include:
- the Project ‘Youth Workers’ – in 2016, the Ministry organized a training course for 48 young people representing different NGOs that were then organized in a network of youth volunteers – tineRetea. The network had as main objectives: to create a network of youth workers able to identify the youth needs using the consultation mechanisms and also to respond them to the identified needs through the activities implemented; to develop mechanisms, instruments, nonformal education methods and youth events that could support the youth public consultation processes. The network members organized then, at the local level, local youth events – trainings, seminars, etc.
- The summer school – The training programme ‘Youth Worker’ – In 2018 and 2019, the Ministry organized training courses for approx. 125 young people representing different youth NGOs. The trained youth people were then willing to contribute to improving the youth activities of their organizations.
- The project – A Chance for rural youth – In 2019, the Ministry on partnership basis with the National Federation of the Local Action Groups organized the training module ‘The Youth Worker’ for 316 young people selected from the rural communities. The aim of this activity was to create a network of youth workers in the rural areas, youth workers who could then contribute to developing and implementing better projects and youth policies in Romania (including the ones at the local level). The 316 trained youth workers are to implement local youth projects in their communities.
- A training of over 100 youth workers, using online training, and the training of youth workers in digital youth work organised in partnership with the National Agency for Community Programmes in the Field of Education and Vocational Training in 2020.
Except for these, most of the training opportunities for youth workers come through the training activities delivered by the National Agency for Community Programmes in the Field of Education and Vocational Training.
The Digital Youth Work Community of Learning is created inside the “#AlwaysOn for Youth” Strategic Partnership for Youth project which is implemented between April 2021 – April 2023 by Federația Young Men’s Christian Associations România (YMCA România), as coordinator and Young Initiative Association (AYI), Sdrujenie “Nadejda-CRD” – Bulgaria (NCRD), The Coordinating Committee for International Voluntary Service – France (CCIVS ) and the Alliance Europeenne des YMCA – Belgium (YMCA Europe), as partners. The project is co-funded by the European Union through the Erasmus + Program. The aim of the project is to increase the capacity of youth organizations from Romania, France, Bulgaria, Belgium and the federated networks of the partnership consortium to serve young people (including vulnerable youth) extensively and intensively through digital youth work and digital inclusion and digital safety practices.
Mobility of youth workers
Training youth workers within international contexts had been rather a priority in the 90s through the exchange programmes developed in partnership with the French authorities. Since then, international opportunities put in place by the state authorities were rather link to the presence of the Romanian delegations to international youth events.
Very active in supporting the mobility of youth workers and in offering them learning opportunities have been the National Agency for Community Programmes in the Field of Education and Vocational Training through the cooperation activities ran on partnership basis with other National Agencies.