10.5 Youth workers
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Status of youth worker
In Slovenia, youth worker status applies to any person. Youth workers in Slovenia can be paid employees or can be involved in youth activities on a voluntary basis. Involvement can be full- time or part-time among both paid employees and volunteers, also involving a rich variety of people. Evidence suggest (see report) that the majority of youth workers are trained via other professions: a research study from 2006 found that among the 263 people interviewed, 76 different occupations were reported.
Since 2008, the Catalogue of functions, jobs and titles (Katalog funkcij, delovnih mest in nazivov) specifies five roles (the data is valid from 8 December 2018) for those working in public sector (e.g. in publically funded youth centres):
Table 1: Youth worker profession in classification of public sector professions
Youth worker II
(Mladinski delavec II)
Youth worker I
(Mladinski delavec I)
Youth programmes coordinator
(Koordinator mladinskih programov)
Head of youth programmes
(Vodja mladinskih programov)
Specialist for youth work
(Specialist za mladinsko delo)
There is no official statistic how many youth workers there are in Slovenia.
Specific standards and criteria for youth workers
There are no minimum qualification standards for publically funded youth workers or for volunteer/unpaid youth workers. However, in 2017, occupational standard and catalogue of standards of professional knowledge and skills have been approved for youth workers. Youth worker as a vocation/occupation has been recognised as part of the National Vocational Qualification System and with it, part of the Vocational Education and training system in Slovenia. The occupational standards established at the national level are compared with candidates’ acquired knowledge and experience. Occupational competences of youth workers defined in the occupational standard (poklicni standard) are (youth worker is able to):
- plan, implement and evaluate youth programmes in cooperation with young people;
- establish and maintain cooperative and confidential relations with a young person;
- work with young people in groups and teams;
- enable young people to acquire competences;
- undertake activities to disseminate the results of young people's work;
- ensure the quality of one's own work and to take care of one's own personal and professional development;
- respect the principles of sustainable development and the protection of health at work with young people.
The occupational profile of a youth worker involves different types of staff, especially within organisations in the youth sector. Youth workers are running youth organisations or groups of young people, do project work, volunteering, non-formal education and other professional support to young people. Youth workers also help young people to develop their skills and talents, especially in the field of extracurricular activities. In communication with young people, youth worker implements and designs youth work programmes. The youth worker is an expert in organizing, implementing and evaluating the activities of young people in their free time and placing them in the decision-making processes.
Paths in initial education leading to a qualification as youth worker
There is no formal education for a youth worker in Slovenia.
There are also no accredited courses in youth work in Slovenia, but The Faculty of Social Work (University of Ljubljana) offers a course 'Concepts of social work with young people' in the 3rd year of the bachelor degree study programme ‘Social Work’. The course aims to train students for quality work with young people. The content of the course includes forms of work with young people, especially in kindergartens and schools, in youth clubs and other (street-based and community-based) spaces for youth (see the curriculum).
The bachelor degree study programme 'Sociology and Interdisciplinary Social Sciences' at the Faculty of Arts, University of Maribor, offers the elective course 'Introduction to Youth Work and Youth Research'. In this course, students are expected to acquire the following transferable skills: applied skills for the analysis and organisation of group work, project work, skills for the organisation of informal cultural events, the ability to critically and engagingly reflect contemporary youth cultural events (see the curriculum).
The (single subject and combined) bachelor degree study programme 'Pedagogy and Andragogy' at the Faculty of Arts, University of Ljubljana, lists the organisation of educational work in youth centres as one of the core competences acquired by students (see the study programme's presentation book).
Within the combined bachelor degree study programme 'Pedagogy' at the Faculty of Arts, University of Maribor, students learn about the work of an organiser and manager of various activities in youth centres within the compulsory course 'Didactic Practicum' (see the curriculum).
The combined bachelor degree study programme 'Sociology' and the combined master degree study programme 'Sociology' (pedagogical qualification) at the Faculty of Arts, University of Ljubljana, cite knowledge and understanding of the position, needs and interests of individuals, especially young people, as one of the core competences acquired by students.
In Slovenia, an individual can acquire National Vocational Qualification of Youth worker. Since it was not possible to obtain a publicly valid education for performing youth work profession, the Office of the Republic of Slovenia for Youth introduced an initiative to prepare the occupational standard and a Catalogue of standards of professional knowledge and skills for a youth worker, based on the Resolution on the National Programme for Youth. The proposal for the initiative was discussed and approved by the relevant sectoral committee for vocational standards in March 2015. Consequently, the Institute of the Republic of Slovenia for Vocational Education and Training (CPI) began the preparation of the proposal of the qualification standard. The qualification standard for a youth worker was adopted by the Expert Council of the Republic of Slovenia for Vocational Education and Training in December 2016. At that point, the youth worker has become a profession. The aim is to make this qualification a formally recognised qualification, gained as follows:
- Completion of programme for vocational or professional education
- Verification and validation of national vocational qualification.
The profession of a youth worker can be obtained through the National Occupational Qualification System, which means that the candidate draws up a compilation of a portfolio (e.g. certificates, supporting documents, reference letters, products, recognition documents …) with his/her past experience and defends it in front of the committee. In the event that the candidate fails to prove all the competences from the occupational standard with the portfolio, he/she needs to pass the exam.
Training for continuous professional development available to youth workers
Although there is no formal education to become a youth worker or a youth leader in Slovenia, there are many different training opportunities available for youth workers within different national (youth) organisations. Main providers of such trainings are:
- Youth Network MaMa;
- National Youth Council of Slovenia;
- Institute for the development of youth mobility (Zavod MOVIT), National agency for Erasmus+: Youth programme;
- Centre for information service, co-operation and development of NGOs;
- concept of learning organisations within many of national youth organisations.
Topics of the courses are, for example: basic training in project management, communication skills, public relations, intercultural learning, intergeneration cooperation, fundraising and organisational management (see report). However, no systematic data are available on this. The Office for Youth does not specifically provide trainings, but (co)finances the trainings which are provided by organisations in the youth sector.
Examples of trainings:
- “Basics of youth work and digital youth work” (Usposabljanje osnove mladinskega dela in digitalno mladinsko delo) by the Youth Network MaMa. It focuses on the basics of youth work, visions of youth centers, youth policies, involvement of vulnerable target groups in youth center programmes, digital youth work.
- “Young people’s mental health” (Spletno usposabljanje na temo duševnega zdravja mladih) by the Youth Network MaMa – training was organised in response to the relevance of young people's mental health topic in times of pandemic.
- “Training course for managers in youth organisations” (Usposabljanje za menedžerje vmladinskih organizacijah) by the National Youth Council of Slovenia – intended for those who hold leadership roles in youth organisations or are preparing for this role. The purpose of the training is to train experienced youth leaders to take leadership roles in youth organisations responsibly.
- “Training course for trainers in youth work” (Usposabljanje za trenerje v mladinskem delu) by the National Youth Council of Slovenia – the purpose of the training is to train coaches in youth work for: preparation, implementation and evaluation of youth work trainings; working with young adults; designing a system of holistic growth for youth leaders in their organisation; to educate potential staff for the National Youth Council’s “Pool of trainers”.
- “Trainings for applicants and beneficiaries” (Izobraževanja za prijavitelje in upravičence) by Zavod MOVIT, the Institute for the development of youth mobility – various international trainings, seminars and conferences. The trainings are intended to encourage exchanges of good practice and international cooperation and to develop the capacities of organisations in the field of youth work and the development of further projects within the Erasmus + programme: Youth in Action in Slovenia.
'Youth in Contemporary Society' is a pilot training programme in the field of youth studies. It is part of the international strategic partnership 'Supporting Evidence-based Education of Youth Workers (SEEYW)' between IDIZ (Zagreb), University of Ljubljana and University of Rijeka, which aims to build the capacity of youth workers. The project contributes in the long term to the professionalisation of youth work and the quality of youth work in the partner countries, as well as in a wider geographical context.
'Training for street-based youth workers' by the Youth Street Network (Mreža Mlada ulica). The theoretical-practical training aims at strengthening youth street work through the transmission of the professional content necessary for successful youth street work.
- Trainings and courses (Odbor za izobraževanje) offered by the ŠKIS Association (Association of Student Clubs of Slovenia) – support and assist student club activists in the successful and quality functioning of the club, encourage the transfer of knowledge of older activists to new ones, and support and form non-formal education among the students. Trainers are trained throughout the year in education domestically and abroad.
- “For youth health” (Za zdravje mladih 2.0 (2017-2019)) by the Slovenian catholic Girl Guides and Boy Scouts Association, together with the Association No Excuse – trainings for youth leaders and workshops designed to raise awareness and educate people about coping with risk factors to prevent addiction.
- “For youth health” (Za zdravje mladih 1.0 (2015/2016)) by the Slovenian catholic Girl Guides and Boy Scouts Association, together with the Association No Excuse, the Scout Association of Slovenia and the Slovenian National Youth Council – training courses for youth leaders and youth workers on the issues of health of young people (2015/2016).
- “Training for Youth Career Counsellors” (Usposabljanje za mladinske karierne svetovalce) by the Nefiks Institute – course intended for young people and youth workers who want to provide support to young people regarding career development. The project is co-financed by the MIZŠ and the European Social Fund.
Procedure for the validation of skills and competences gained by youth workers through non-formal and informal learning
In Slovenia, since 2017 an individual can acquire National Vocational Qualification of Youth worker. National Occupational Qualifications give individuals a possibility to validate their skills and knowledge obtained through the pursuit of one’s occupation, volunteer work, leisure activities, participation in non-formal training programmes, self-learning etc. The recognition is facilitated by the Institute of the Republic of Slovenia for Vocational Education and Training. National Vocational Qualifications attests to one’s competence to perform a certain occupation. The certificate is also recognised at the national and European level (see report). There is no other form of national recognition of youth work.
For recognition and validation of skills acquired through youth work, there are some practices in the youth sector (Nefiks, Moje izkušnje, TaPas, MEPI, Mladinska značka v ovkiru TiPovej etc.), that are more or less closely linked to the established European platforms (Europass, Youthpass) (for more information see Youth Wiki section 10.6 Recognition and validation of skills acquired through youth work).
Type of activities undertaken by youth workers
Mobility is mostly done through a range of EU programmes, especially the Erasmus+ programme and the European Solidarity Corps. The Implementation plan for the period 2020/2021 (Izvedbeni načrt Resolucije o Nacionalnem program za mladino 2013-2022 za leti 2020 in 2021) has this specific aim in the field: Promoting inclusion in international youth work and learning mobility in youth work and strengthening them. Two measures are provided in order to reach this goal: Erasmus+ Key Action 1 (Mobility projects for young people and youth workers) and Erasmus+ Key Action 2 (Cooperation for innovation and the exchange of good practices). Both measures are implemented by MOVIT, the National Agency for the Erasmus+: Youth in Action Programme. The first measure is aimed at supporting Key Action 1, Learning Mobility among Individuals, which aims to provide opportunities for individuals to improve their skills, enhance their employability and gain a sense of cultural awareness.
- Erasmus+: Key action 1 (Mobility projects for young people and youth workers)
Indicative amount of financial contribution provided, total: 2020: 1.809.157 EUR.
The second measure is aimed at supporting Key Action 2, Cooperation for Innovation and the Exchange of Good Practices. This action seeks to enable organisations to work together in order to improve their provisions for learners and share innovative practices.
- Erasmus+: Key action 2 (Strategic Partnerships projects on the youth field)
Indicative amount of financial contribution provided, total: 2020: 694.276 EUR.
Geographical scope of the programmes/projects/initiatives
Mobility of youth workers usually takes place at the international level, mostly through the Erasmus+ programme and the European Solidarity Corps.
The main reason for mobility of youth workers is mostly capacity building – both individuals and organisations. This mobility is predominantly done through the Erasmus+ the Transnational Cooperation Activities (TCA). This capacity building should also be seen in the light of project management within the programme: contact making seminars, partnership building, finding common content points for potential new projects.