What is it?

Youth work has three essential features:

  • Young people choose to participate
  • The work takes place where the young people are
  • It recognises that the young person and the youth worker are partners in a learning process

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.

What are the aims?

Youth work helps young people to reach their full potential. It encourages personal development, autonomy, initiative and participation in society.

Who is involved?

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.

How does it happen?

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.

What is the EU doing?

Two expert groups on youth work contribute to the European Union Work Plan for Youth (2014-2015):

  • Expert Group on youth work quality systems in EU Member States and the role of common indicators or frameworks
  • Expert Group on defining the specific contribution of youth work to address the challenges young people are facing, in particular the transition from education to employment