Youth worker education and training varies throughout the different European countries. In some countries, youth work study programmes exist and in others not. In some, youth work is recognised as a profession and in others not. In some countries, youth work is mainly carried out by volunteers, in others by paid staff. Some countries have a longer tradition of youth organisations than others and different concepts and approaches have been adopted.
We took these different realities and challenges into account in the Competence Model for Youth Workers to Work Internationally. This competence model is based on Otten/Fennes’ (2008) description of expectations towards youth work as a profession: ‘[…] given the demands and expectations of European youth work as described above, certain professional conditions must be stipulated and demands must be formulated which need to be met by educational personnel. For example: a (specialised) scientific training beneficial to their type of work and own pertinent face-to-face experience in the field; an involvement in an organisation or at least an affiliation with a structure; a certain permanence and continuity; financial and social coverage; cooperative discourse; etc.’
We have formulated an even more precise definition: ‘Youth workers work with young people in a wide variety of non-formal and informal learning contexts, typically focusing on their young charges’ personal and social development through one-on-
one relationships and group-based activities. While acting as trainers/facilitators may be their main task, it is just as likely for youth workers to take a socio-
educational or social work-based approach. In many cases, these roles and functions overlap.’