The International Youth Work Trainers Guild has been called to life to offer answers to the needs of international youth work and the trainers community in the 21st century. The Guild’s endeavours and approach are based on peer support and the striving for improving the quality and impact of international youth work.
Origin and context
For the field of international youth work training, there is often still a lack of clear definitions, quality criteria, educational pathways or representative bodies. We ourselves find it many times hard to explain to other people in few words what we are actually doing, and why. “I travel around Europe and I sit in circles with people”, is how a trainer once ironically described his best shot at giving a short definition of our work.
“How do I become a trainer? Who and how can you tell a trainer is actually good? What working conditions can I expect as a trainer?” are questions often heard as well. While on national level, we can find different educational pathways, quality definitions, recommended working conditions and recognition for youth workers, coaches and teachers for example, no such thing exists yet in a satisfactorily coherent and recognized fashion for international youth work trainers.
But there is a lot of good work to build upon already! International youth work is not an invention of our century. Apart from traditional initiatives by political parties and the religious institutions, there have been international volunteering and exchange programmes called to life after the two world wars, and especially since the 90s with the ongoing and accelerated integration of Europe, we have witnessed an impressive strengthening and growth of international youth work and the related training field. Many “big players” in the sector have created their own trainer pools and have set up guidelines, standards and recommendations. What is missing still, and this is a feedback that comes not only form trainers but from many different stakeholders in international youth work, is to bring all this together in a synergetic and coherent form, to have a representation of the whole sector of international youth work, transcending the current fragmentation. This will allow for synergy, growth, quality, and to positively harvest and exploit all the diversity and expertise in the field for the sake of international youth work.
Using the opportunity offered for trainers to meet by various European programmes and trainer pools, first ideas for how a Europe-wide union of trainers could look like have been discussed. Should it be a network? A trade union? A movement? In the end people expressed a preference for the metaphor of a “Guild”, because of the idea that practitioners from the same field unify to support each other and commit to quality standards.
Concrete first steps were taken in 2014 and since April 2016 the Guild is an officially registered association in Germany. At present stage, there are about 30 trainers from all over Europe including Neighbouring Regions actively supporting and contributing to the Guild. We have also received a very warm welcome from other stakeholders in the field, expressing their satisfaction with having a collection point and resonance board at disposal for issues of international youth work training. This showed for example in the invitation to us to offer a learning island during the “Bridges for Trainers” meeting late 2016 in Vienna, and in the fact that we have been chosen to be part of the Advisory Group for the European Training Strategy in the field of Youth .
… the idea that practitioners from the same field unify to support each other and commit to quality standards.
We are an independent supportive community of trainers in the international youth work sector that advocates on behalf of and contributes to each other’s professional development. Members of the IYWT Guild are trainers, working in international context across Europe and neighbouring countries, working in the field of youth, applying non formal educational methodologies, and committed to the Guild’s pledge, values and Code of Conduct.
Members aim to ensure defined quality standards in the delivery of international youth work training activities. The community endeavours to have a positive impact on Youth Policy, non-formal education and professional practice as part of life-long learning at all levels within Europe and neighbouring regions. It will do this by communicating recommendations to decision makers and advocating on behalf of its members.
Our vision is a strong and connected community of international trainers in the youth work field.
The Guild stands for:
The Guild offers to its members:
If you are interested and want to know more, choose from the links below to find more details about us. Of course you can also contact us any time for personalised answers to your question.
The Guild on facebook:
A supportive space for trainers:
to make sure we are not trapped in our “bubble” .
Lots of beautiful bla bla, but what are the concrete actions and results?
In our relatively short time of existence, we have organised several meetings for trainers mainly to work on quality issues, for example how to develop a 360° feedback and evaluation system for trainers. We have also organised an expert seminar to discuss how can international youth work trainers respond and contribute to the challenges and realities of youth work and Europe in the 21st century. A good practice we are regularly implementing in such meetings is to involve experts from other sectors, for example from the academic world, the business sector, and psychology, to make sure we are not trapped in our “bubble” and base our developments also on research and expertise from other sectors.
Quality and competences
A big focus on our work is how to support and ensure quality in the international youth work training field. One measure we have developed for this is our membership procedure. In order to be a member of the Guild, it is among other necessary to commit to a pledge (http://iywt.org/our-principles/), to commit to a Code of Conduct, to offer to all clients, contractors and colleagues to provide public feedback and review on the performance as a trainer, and to commit to ongoing professional development among other by taking part in a 360° appraisal process in learning trios.
Another measure by the Guild to support and ensure quality in the work of trainers is to provide tools for the standardization, review, assessment and development of trainer competences. For this we are currently implementing a 2-year-lasting strategic partnership project with the aim to develop a standardized web-based appraisal service – see here: http://iywt.org/trainers-appraisal/
What the Guild could offer to you
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by MarCus Vrecer (2017)
MarCus is an international youth work trainer with 25 years of experience. He is a founding member and current board member of the International Youth Work Trainers Guild.
© IYWT Guild