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EACEA National Policies Platform


10. Youth work

10.5 Youth workers

Last update: 14 March 2024
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  1. Status in national legislation
  2. Education, training and skills recognition
  3. Mobility of youth workers

Status in national legislation

In Sweden, there are no specific standards and criteria regarding health and safety requirements for working with youth, and therefore no requirements exist for minimum qualifications for specific pedagogical, educational, relational competences or for compliance with specific codes of ethics.

In Swedish national youth policy, the concept of youth work is seldom used. Instead, in government policy documents the concept of meaningful leisure activities (meningsfull fritid) is central. That concept relates both to mainly membership-based activities in youth organisations and to open meeting places for young people such as youth clubs or recreational centres.

In the context of youth organisations, those in charge of activities are most commonly members of the organisation and working on a voluntary basis. The organisation is responsible for their training. Those working in youth clubs or recreational centres are commonly employed, by the municipality or by the organisation running the centre.

On the other hand, almost all professional efforts to address social conditions of young people are organised, regulated and financed by the public sector. The concept of social work has come to be the general category to identify these efforts. Therefore, few professionals identify themselves  as youth workers, even if their tasks relate to young people in a way that in other contexts would be understood as youth work (Andersson 2018). See section 10.3 Support to youth work for more information.

The Swedish Government has also initiated a number of comprehensive programmes and actions, where the target group consists of young people in a more vulnerable position, such as NEET, young people at risk for violence and radicalisation, young people with a migrant or ethnic minority background, young LBGT-persons, young disabled and newly arrived young migrants. See section 4.4, Inclusive Programmes for Young People, for more information.

These government actions usually combine knowledge compilations on the current theme, as well as dissemination to relevant professionals working in health care or in schools, in social work, in the police force and in organised leisure, including both youth centres and sports. Even volunteers active in CSOs and in faith communities are targeted.


Education, training and skills recognition

Youth work training

Training for youth work is mainly provided by Swedish folk high schools (folkhögskolor). The folk high schools provide a two-year study programme (fritidsledarutbildning), leading to a diploma in youth work. There is a common training plan/curriculum that all folk high schools follow. Information on the study programme is made available at the youth work website

There is an ongoing discussion within folk high schools on how to increase the quality of education. One way to ensure that the education provides the right skills is better dialogue between employers and the education providers about the skills and competences that must be in place  to ensure quality in the activities. Such dialogue is already in place between some municipalities and folk high schools (MUCF 2016).

The schools are also able to make quality measurements according to a self-assessment system. The folk high schools are able to apply for membership of SeQf, Sweden's Qualifications Framework. SeQf builds on the common European Qualification Framework. This makes it easier to compare qualifications from studies and working life, both nationally and internationally.

In 2019, the Swedish Agency for Youth and Civil society, MUCF, conducted a survey on youth work, focusing on educational levels of youth workers. According to the report, over 60 per cent of the professionals working in open leisure centres lack formal education. See section 10.4 Research and evidence supporting Youth Work for more information.

MUCF has a government mandate to ensure that young people have access to meaningful and developing leisure activities. The agency must, among other things, offer continuing education and knowledge-raising initiatives. This takes place through free digital training courses, reports, statistics and online seminars aimed at youth workers and those responsible for open leisure activities. See 10.4 Smart youth work, youth work in the digital world for more information.


Mobility of youth workers

There are no national policies or programmes offering the possibility for youth workers to take part in exchange opportunities, cooperation and networking at local, regional, national and international level. it is a consequence of the lack of national strategies and initiatives in the area, as the responsibility for open leisure activities lies with municipalities.