This project was implemented in cooperation between several organisations; Youth for Exchange and Understanding EU International (Portugal), AEGEE-Europe (Belgium), the Institute of Entrepreneurship Development (Greece), MODAVI (Italy) and Krakow University of Economics (Poland) with the support of the European Commission’s “Lifelong Learning Programme” grant for 2 years, from 2013 to 2014.
The aim of the project was to develop a process of certification by using the European Qualification Framework as an instrument to provide youth workers with the possibility of having their learning outcomes assessed and validated as well as recognised as qualifications across Europe – especially those acquired through experience in NFE, informal learning, volunteering, work environments etc. The need for this project to arise came from the fact that youth workers struggle to have their work recognised as a valid profession, despite its wide-reaching impact and contribution to the betterment of society as a whole.
The first eight months of 2013 consisted in researching existing profiles of junior and senior youth workers through desk research and interviews. This also involved research on formal studies on youth work, profiles of youth workers from policy documents of the European Commission and the Council of Europe, practices and policies of NGOs active in the field of youth and more. The outcome of this thorough research was a document including key concepts and definitions relating to youth work.
The project developed a system of certification using 4 steps: 1) CV evaluation, 2) online test, 3) case study and 4) philosophical statement presentation. Successful participants were then provided with a European Certificate for Youth Workers. By developing a “competences profile”, this project now allows junior and senior youth workers to know which qualifications and which learning outcomes they are required to achieve to work in a particular organisation or specific sector.
The long-term project “Certification of the qualifications of the youth workers in NGOs – road to greater recognition of youth work” which previewed a creation of a tool able to certify the competences gained in the youth work (NFE, informal learning, volunteering, work settings, etc.) and implementation of advocacy initiatives dedicated to the recognition of the youth work.
Research on youth workers qualifications
In the first eight months of 2013, the research on existing profiles of junior and senior youth workers was implemented using desk research and interviews. We have evaluated existing formal studies of youth work in Europe, profiles of youth workers from the policy documents of European Commission and Council of Europe, practices and policies of NGOs active in the field of youth and finally policy National regulations. The research filed have included also the definition and scope of youth work in different countries. The final outcome is a document that includes some definitions of the youth work and two different kinds of youth workers’ profiles: junior and senior youth worker. Those profiles are connected with EQF levels that connect them with the current policy “momentum” in Europe.
Methodology for the certification
In order to create the clear guidelines on certification process, the methodology for certification was created as a comprehensive guideline for the National Certification Advisory Boards how to organise and implement certification process with potential youth workers. This draft of methodology includes several steps and description of the evaluation tools: CV Evaluation, Online test, Philosophical statement on youth work, Case study and Interviews. In order to create efficient certification process the online platform was created where the candidates were invited to upload their documents. Also, guidelines are created in a flexible way in order to leave the space to implement both online and face- to-face certification.
Pilot phase and final certification tool
During May and June 2014, the Pilot phase of certification was implemented in the five partners’ countries and extra certification will be implemented in Spain with an International scope. These activities have provided much information on feasibility of the certification process and possibilities to improve the final certification tool. Finally, the partners’ consortium will meet in October 2014 to review the outcomes of the Pilot phase to correct the methodology and profiles taking in account all experiences from the project. The final tool will allow efficient certification of the youth workers across Europe for the estimated number of 1,200000 active in the youth field.