Mechanisms of quality assurance (September 2020)
Supporting the significance of youth work
The EU Youth Strategy 2019-2027 encourages EU Member States to support the development of quality youth work. In general terms, quality in youth work relates to how well it contributes to the personal and social development of participants. More specifically, youth work should respond to the needs and interests of young people, uphold their rights, have a clear learning perspective, and pursue objectives that are relevant to participants.
National policies have established various mechanisms for ensuring quality in youth work. Some countries have established occupational standards for youth workers. They are required to acquire specific competences and obtain qualifications in order to conduct youth work activities. An example of this approach is Latvia, where one must complete a training of at least 80 academic hours to acquire the status of youth worker.
In a second group of countries, quality assurance takes place during the selection of projects to be awarded public funding. Public authorities evaluate projects’ proposals against pre-established quality criteria. Projects that fulfil those criteria are eligible for support. For example, the Czech “Certification of Youth Information Centres” sets the quality criteria for the assessment and selection of projects. The organisations whose projects meet these criteria can receive financial support through a grant scheme.
A third method of quality assurance consists in reviewing youth work activities in consideration of (non-compulsory) recommendations and guidelines. While this method is widespread amongst countries, in some it is the only one in place. In these countries, youth organisations, in cooperation with public authorities, agree on quality standards and indicators. A shared assessment of the projects’ outcomes determines the aspects to be improved (for example, providing training to youth workers or making participation more inclusive). Sweden is one of the countries following this approach. The youth work network on Quality and Expertise in Cooperation (KEKS) – which includes municipal authorities – establishes quality criteria. Every year the work of organisations is assessed against those criteria and the results are used to inform future projects and provide further trainings to youth workers.