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EACEA National Policies Platform


10. Youth work

10.1 General context

Last update: 30 March 2023
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  1. Historical developments
  2. National definition or understanding of Youth Work


Historical developments

Youth work tradition in Slovenia started approximately with Slovenian independence in 1991. Before 1991, Slovenia was part of Yugoslavia and “within this context there was a relatively strong youth movement, which helped form the basis later on for the development of youth work.” as stated in  Working with young people: The value of youth work. Country report: Slovenia[1] In the early 1970s, Slovenia was characterized by increased repression and ideological pressure on young people, especially the youth press and the media, which led to student revolts and led to the formulation of civil society movements and the development of a strong youth scene. During this time, the independent student organisation was abolished and merged with the youth organisation.


Later in the 1980s came an intensive period for youth movements (formal and non-formal) which continued in the 1990s, when youth scenes began to develop, mostly designing around key leisure activities of young people. Young people became increasingly involved in various movements and organisations. In the process of transition, young people wanted especially the least risky path to the future, which led to the development of several forms of working with youth or youth work. The activities took place in public gatherings where young people were involved in the action.


An overview of youth work history in Slovenia until idenpendence can be found in the publication “Youth work in Slovenia from liberation to independence” (Mladinsko delo v Sloveniji od osvoboditve do osamosvojitve).


After independence, the concepts of working with and for young people began to develop and there was an incentive to design a youth programme at national and the European level. “A formal approach to youth policy and support for youth work began in 1990, with the establishment of the National Youth Council. This was developed further through the work of the Office of the Republic of Slovenia for Youth by the Ministry of Education and Sport.”as it is stated in the  Working with young people: The value of youth work. Country report: Slovenia. Moreover, youth work at the local level quickly developed, which included development of new local youth organisations, local youth councils and youth centres.



After the full membership of Slovenia to the European Union in 2004, policy frameworks and European youth work programmes gave an important contribution and complemented the programmes used by the Office of the Republic of Slovenia for Youth to promote youth policies and youth work. The Youth Council Act, adopted in 2000, led to the establishment of many local youth councils. The turning point came in 2005, when the Office for Youth published the Strategy of the Office of the Republic of Slovenia for Youth in the field of youth policy until 2010 (Strategija Urada RS za mladino na področju mladinske politike do leta 2010). The Strategy’s aim was to improve the conditions for performing youth work and to recognise youth work more generally is noted by Pazlar in  Profil mladinskega delavca v Sloveniji danes in v prihodnosti..


Growth in funding and financial support to youth centres has strengthened the commitment to the development of youth work on both, national and local levels. Consolidation of the development of youth work and expansion of the youth sector enabled the introduction of legislation in 2010 (Public Interest in the Youth Sector Act). The Act also provided the formal legal basis for the preparation of the National Programme for Youth 2013-2022 (Resolucija oNacionalnem programu za mladino 2013–2022).


Skrinar argues is  Working with young people: The value of youth work. Country report: Slovenia that  there have been a number of identifiable phases in the development of youth work in Slovenia, beginning with a focus on participation of young people, followed by a focus on preventive and/or therapeutic youth work, with most recently a focus on the competences as defined by EU priorities. Lately, it has been seen a general decline in youth work that delivers leisure activities, with more focus on active citizenship. The majority of youth work in Slovenia is delivered through (national) youth organizations and non-governmental organizations, working in the field of youth at the national level argue Pazlar and Skrinar in Profil mladinskega delavca v Sloveniji danes in v prihodnosti.and  Working with young people: The value of youth work. Country report: Slovenia



National definition or understanding of Youth Work

In 2010, Slovenian government adopted the Public Interest in the Youth SectorAct (Zakon o javnem interesu v mladinskem sektorju). Article 3 provides a legal definition for youth work, combining formal and non-formal aspects of youth work: “youth work is an organised and target-oriented form of youth action and is for the youth, within which the youth, based on their own efforts, contribute to their own inclusion in society, strengthen their competences and contribute to the development of the community. The implementation of various forms of youth work is based on the volunteer participation of the youth regardless of their interest, cultural, principle or political orientation”.


Prior to the adoption of the Public Interest in the Youth Sector Act, Slovenia did not have any national legislation relating to youth work nor a central definition of youth work, which led to the proliferation of a range of definitions in existence across Slovenia with many youth organisations often using their own definitions. Nowadays, main actors agree that the Public Interest in the Youth Sector Act is their legal basis.


[1] Ule et al. in Skrinar, U., 2014. Brussels: Directorate-General for Education and Culture (last accessed 13/09/2019) (see p. 5).