Education & Training

The European Training Strategy


What is in it for youth workers?


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In May 2015 the Programme Committee of Erasmus+: Youth in Action agreed on the European Training Strategy (ETS) – implemented under Erasmus+ and with impact beyond. The aim of ETS is better recognition and quality development in youth work. The approach taken is using competence models (for youth trainer & youth worker), developing training modules for different target groups and seeking for ways to recognise work and engagement of these target groups better.

Let’s use one part of the ETS as example to showcase what is in it and how it can be of value. At the end of 2016 a Competence Model for Youth Workers to Work Internationally will be published. This model will be a good starting point for further discussions about the recognition and value of youth workers activities and engagement. It will be the basis for (advanced) training and education.

The Competence model consists of the following eight competence areas – accompanied by conditional aspects:

  • to facilitate learning of individuals and groups in an enriching environment
  • to design programmes
  • to organise and manage resources
  • to cooperate successfully in teams
  • to communicate meaningfully with others
  • Intercultural competence
  • to network and advocate
  • to develop evaluative practice to assess and implement appropriate changes

The Competence model aims to support the quality development of youth work. By providing non-formal learning, education and training providers (youth work organisations but as well universities), trainers involved in youth work and other stakeholders (policy makers) with a model these target groups are supported when developing concrete tools, strategies and practical training activities. The competence model should act in future as example, as starting point and as reflection instrument. SALTO T&C RC responds with the Competence model to the need to further develop quality youth work. And starting from looking

  • at the individual youth worker,
  • as the one who actually does the work with young people – in various environments and circumstances, in local and international settings, and the one
  • taking care of bringing these two dimensions together to learn from each other,

makes it easier later on to start improving, developing needs oriented systems of education and training.

The Competence model was discussed within an international group from European Union countries and neighbouring countries (Eastern Europe Caucasus, South East Europe and South Mediterranean regions) in April 2016, among them stakeholders representing NGOs, institutions etc. Representatives of POYWE were there as well.

developing needs oriented systems of education and training.

It is always time to reconsider practice, beliefs, understandings…

What is in it for youth workers?

The Competence model will be the basis for discussion with experts, youth work training providers, institutional stakeholders

  • to discuss the potential of such a competence model,
  • to find out if there is a kind of common ground in Europe and beyond,
  • to explore which concepts do exists linked to different key words or principles.


The Competence model is e.g. based on these principles: Young person-centeredness (i.e., a focus on young persons and their development), agreement between youth workers and the young persons on learning objectives, transparency, confidentiality, attention to content and methodology, voluntary, participation, ownership of the development process, empowerment, democratic values and practices. If you look at the model with your youth worker “eyes” start thinking how do you as a youth worker understand the descriptions and how do you live together with young people, how is this reflected here, or how do you describe this in your concepts. Voilà, this is the starting point for youth workers – no matter if they are voluntary, paid, formally educated, long-lasting practitioners. It is always time to reconsider practice, beliefs, understandings…

The competence areas
The eight competence areas (see above) are designed for youth workers working internationally. And international teams and context means very often

  • using a different than the native language,
  • being in distance from the daily work environment,
  • being in a situation where it is necessary to explain how ones practise looks like, and
  • being in a team where a common ground needs to developed or needs to be maintained.


The practise of youth work in this area is covered by attitudes, knowledge, skills and behaviours, which also contains conceptual terminology – needed and expected from a professional point of view. Of course the list does not represent a must have for each individual youth worker, it can also invite for team reflection to find out if all competences are represented. But the lists call on the other side for a certain level of quality and therefore competences to also provide quality youth work.

The practise of youth work in this area is covered by attitudes, knowledge, skills and behaviours

The diversity of youth work in Europe

Looking on youth worker education & training in Europe and the professionalization of youth workers in different countries, the situation is more than diverse.

  • Between no youth worker education in the formal system and specific orientation in social science studies or specialisation with focus on the target groups, and
  • NGOs providing basic education and training for leaders, and
  • NGOs specialised in professional/formalised youth worker education, which is accredited in formal contexts,

the youth work field is still a rich and creative field. Of course the question here is how the ETS can support better recognition and quality development.

Upcoming challenges and questions in the debate about professionalisation and next steps

  • The ETS and the competence models should be used to inspire, to provide a starting point for discussion, to act as a role model, but it should not lead to flat and meaningless standardisation.
  • How to use the ETS and the competence models best to develop quality youth work – in several contexts?
  • Creativity and activism are essential aspects of youth work, they should be stimulated and supported!
  • Establishment of appropriate training & education systems
  • How to use the model in the best way for recognition of youth workers and youth work?
  • The development and further implementation of the Competence Model for Youth Workers to Work Internationally,
  • ETS Implementation conference in 2017,
  • variety of training courses
  • and and and!


And what is in ETS for you?
If you have further questions or need for information please do not hesitate to contact SALTO-YOUTH Training & Cooperation Resource Centre, Rita Bergstein,

by Rita Bergstein (2016)

Rita Bergstein has been working for SALTO T&C RC since 2005, focusing on Youthpass and recognition of non-formal learning. Since 2012 she is also working on competence development of trainers, youth workers and institutional staff

Drawings © by Siiri Taimla, and

Video © poywe/Alexandra Beweis


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