Youth work has three essential features:
Youth work encompasses a broad range of activities (eg social, cultural, educational, sports-related and political) carried out with, by and for young people through non-formal and informal learning. Its value is recognised in the Council conclusions on youth work and highlighted in a study released in 2014.
Youth work helps young people to reach their full potential. It encourages personal development, autonomy, initiative and participation in society.
Youth work provides out-of-school education, as well as leisure activities managed by professional or voluntary youth workers and youth leaders.
It is organised in different ways – through youth-led organisations, organisations for youth, informal groups or youth services and public authorities.
Youth work is delivered in different forms and settings (eg open-access, group-based, programme-based, outreach, and detached) at local, regional, national, and European level.
Its effectiveness has led to an increasing number of organisations – such as those working in youth justice and health improvement – to develop a youth work approach. This enables young people who might otherwise be alienated from support to get the services they need.
Two expert groups on youth work contribute to the European Union Work Plan for Youth (2014-2015):