Given the breadth and diversity of youth work, motivation and pathways of someone becoming and remaining a youth worker vary significantly as well. As there are many different pathways of becoming a youth worker, there are many different ways in which youth work can be applied in practice.
The routes for entering youth work and becoming a volunteer and/or paid youth worker differ from one local community and country in Europe to another, as well as all around the world. In some countries, there are specific programmes of youth work studies and/or vocational training for youth workers, while in others youth work could be studied under broader social or educational programmes. In Germany, for example, there is no legal definition for the profession of youth work and youth workers have mostly studied subjects such as social work, (social) pedagogy or educational sciences. Some Member States offer publicly funded non-formal learning opportunities for youth workers. For instance, in Serbia, the National Association of Youth Workers (NAPOR) has created a curriculum for the education of youth workers, which contains a training programme for two vocational levels (Youth Leader and Youth Worker), and its implementation is supported by the Ministry of Sports and Youth, but also by other project-based funding. In some other countries, non-formal learning opportunities are only funded by external donors, often under different European programmes. In addition, in some European countries there are clearly identified career paths, which are complemented with on-the-job training and learning, while in others career paths are not very present.
These are just some of the examples from a few countries in Europe, but the diversity of youth workers’ pathways is even richer than that. As one of the outcomes of the First ETS Conference: “The Quality Bonus”, SALTO Training and Cooperation Resource Centre published a comic book “Snapshot of Youth Workers’ Paths”. We highly recommend you to go through it and get inspired by the richness of stories!
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