10.4 Quality and innovation in youth work
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In Spain, since the approval of the 1978 Constitution, many competences were transferred to the Autonomous Communities by the Title VIII of the Territorial Organization of the State. Due to this, youth and education issues are not regulated by a national legal framework that would allow for the existence of a general system of quality assurance for youth work.
This absence of national legislation has a profound effect on youth work programmes since there is no common standard nor quality measurement system that comprises all the territory. While most of the regional youth institutes share some requirements and standards for youth workers, each Autonomous Community or town hall establishes its own criteria depending on its needs producing high variability between programmes.
In order to ensure the quality of youth programmes and the abilities of youth workers they must pass some tests and meet some requirements. Usually the requirements are attached to a scoring system to access the job offered in the regional calls. As mentioned above, the score needed or even the specific competences of the call depend directly on the Autonomous Community or Town Hall. However, it is possible to find common requirements by comparing regional calls. The following list is not official, but it does offer a general overview:
- Professional experience:
-Experience in public administration.
-Experience in private administration.
-Experience in self-employment.
-Official degrees in fields related to the youth.
-Local Languages (Valencian, Catalonian, Basque…)
Most of the studies on youth work have been carried out by the INJUVE with the aim to design more specific youth work plans.
Even though youth work in Spain lacks a legal framework, there are some studies on the youth that address the question of youth work. Within the Spanish academic field some examples of studies are:
- The study Youth information management: search, selection and dissemination (Gestión de información en el ámbito de la juventud: búsqueda, selección y difusión) assesses the experience of the Documentation Centre of the Youth Basque Observatory (Centro de Documentación del Observatorio Vasco de la Juventud). It also takes into account the great variety in type of sources and contents to programme and execute youth policies and that it is, precisely, the youth workers that execute these policies. This study shows where, what and how to find information, what tools can be used to keep informed and where to collect and disseminate that kind of information.
- A proposal of evaluation of youth public policies. The SIAPJoven: System of indicators to evaluate youth local policies (Una propuesta de evaluación de las políticas públicas de juventud. El SIAPJoven: Sistema de indicadores para la evaluación de políticas municipales de juventud) an evaluation tool for youth public policies at the local level was created. This proposal is useful for youth workers at the local level due to the fact that they are ultimately executing youth policies and evaluating their efficacy.
- In the study Theoretical bases for socio-educational intervention of youth workers the educational dimension of the youth policies as well as the pedagogical training of youth workers is emphasized. The aim of this study is to establish the intervention methods of youth workers based on different theoretical perspectives explained in the text.
Due to the absence of a national legal framework, the most important participative initiative takes place at the European level. The main consultation tool with the youth is the Structured Dialogue (Diálogo estructurado).
In Spain, this dialogue takes part between the following entities:
- Representatives of the Ministries (representatives of the Ministry of Social Rights and 2030 Agenda – Ministerio de Derechos Sociales y Agenda 2030);
- National youth councils (representatives of the Spanish Youth Council [Consejo de la Juventud de España] and the Institute of Youth [Instituto de la Juventud]);
- Local and regional youth councils;
- Youth organizations;
- Young people from different fields;
- Youth researchers.
Structured Dialogue is a means of mutual communication between young people and decision-makers in order to implement the priorities of European youth policy cooperation and to make young people’s voices heard in the European policy-shaping process.
It is a consultative process, implemented by the European Commission, that aims to increase cooperation with civil society and get first-hand input from young people. It is made up of one main event, the EU Youth Conference organized by the EU country currently holding the EU presidency.
Structured Dialogue is organized into 18-month work cycles. Each cycle focuses on a different thematic priority (set by the Council of Youth Ministers). The success of Structured Dialogue depends on the direct involvement of young people and youth organizations. During each 18-month work cycle, a national consultation of young people and youth organizations is conducted in every EU country.
In the seventh round of Structured Dialogue, a new initiative called the Youth Dialogue (Diálogo con la Juventud) was articulated.
The aim of this programme follows the main objective of Structured Dialogue: to establish ways of participation for the youth, youth workers within youth institutions and political decision-makers in these fields.
The main actors within this strategy at a national level are:
- National Working Group (NWG): This group consists of members of the Youth Institute, the Youth Council of Spain and other national organizations. The task of this group is to coordinate and implement this programme at the national level.
- Youth Dialogue Embassies: These organizations are formed by the youth and their aim is to convey the concerns of youth to the local and regional political decision-makers. The embassies collaborate with the NWG and all existing youth institutions in the implementation of the programme. There is an embassy for each of the 17 Autonomous Communities.
Embassies have two key types of actors: ambassadors and agents. The ambassadors are responsible of dealing with the youth councils and with the general directorates for the youth. Each embassy has two members at most, selected considering gender equality. Agents play a supporting role for the ambassadors in developing their activities.
Associated and non-associated youth, local/regional/national organizations and councils will play a consulting role in the European Steering Committee for Youth.
Dialogue with Youth is a European Union initiative that promotes youth participation in political, social, economic and cultural development at all territorial levels, from local to European; and encourages debate between young people and decision-makers for the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of public policies that have an impact on youth. We are now in the 8th Cycle of Youth Dialogue - formerly Structured Dialogue - which will run from 15 July 2020 to 31 December 2021. It is framed under the title "Europe for Youth - Youth for Europe: space for democracy and participation" and the main theme is the creation of spaces for young people to actively participate in the decision-making process.
National Working Group
The National Working Group organises and coordinates the implementation of the Youth Dialogue at state level. It is led by the Spanish Youth Council and involves young people representing civil society and the Spanish Youth Institute.
In Spain, there are different programmes related to the implementation of digital technologies in youth work, as it is also mentioned in the sub-chapter 6.8.
During the 1990-decade, new technologies such as internet started to develop quickly and began to have a big impact on people´s lives. Under these circumstances, in 2001, the Government of Spain created a strategic initiative to promote these new information technologies and bring them on to the economy, institutional relations and people´s day to day life: the Action Plan Info XXI (Plan de Acción Info XXI).
In 2002, as part of the Action Plan, and created by the Secretariat of State for the Digital Advancement (Secretaría de Estado para el Avance Digital) of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Digital Transformation (Ministerio de Asuntos Económicos y Transformación Digital), the red.es initiative was born. Red.es is a public entity that develops initiatives to foster digital economy, innovation, entrepreneurship, support for SMEs and training for young professionals while advocating a more efficient use of the ICTs.
Another relevant project is the Friendly Screens Initiative (Iniciativa Pantallas Amigas), as also mentioned in the sub-chapter 6.8. This programme “promotes the safe use of new technologies in childhood and adolescence, with information activities and raising awareness about the inherent dangers in the digital environment”. They put awareness and prevention campaigns in place in collaboration with multiple public institutions, like the Central Administration, universities, municipalities and autonomous communities.
Finally, Secure Internet for Kids (Internet Segura for Kids) aimed at minors has the objective to promote the safe use of the internet and the ICTs. In this project there are four main axis:
- Training and sensibilization of minors, youth, families, teachers and youth workers in the safe use of the web through national programs and education campaigns;
- The creation of an online consulting service in order to confront the dangers of the network in various areas: harmful contacts, inappropriate behaviour and illegal content;
- Celebrate the Safe Internet Day (Día de la Internet Segura en España);
- Diminish the available criminal content in the network, mainly child sexual abuse, with the support of law enforcement officials.
Secure Internet for Kids is supervised by the Secretariat of State for the Digital Advancement (Secretaría de Estado para el Avance Digital, SEAD) through the National Institute of Cybersecurity (Instituto Nacional de Ciberseguridad, INCIBE). This project is part of the Better Internet for Kids, European Plan, and BIK of the European network INSAFE of international cooperation.
These projects, although their target is wider than only youth workers, can still be a useful informative tool regarding ICTs and their dangers for the youth. These projects are examples of good practices that could be used by youth workers to promote a good use of digital tools and to encourage entrepreneurship, innovation and the use of digital technologies for the training of youth.
Although these initiatives are carried out at a national level, the autonomous communities develop their own specific ones with a budget assigned for each of them, since they have competences in this matter. Most of the autonomous communities have developed different initiatives, specially during 2020 after the SARS-COVID19 sanitary emergency made it clear that digitalization is the leading way for a new economy and interpersonal relations.