Many words, phrases, and occupations titles reached my ears while discovering the Erasmus+ program. Thanks to the different types of projects I got the chance to get involved in, I’ve acquired some experience in working with different categories of people, focused on various topics. During those times, I discovered what is youth work and what are youth workers as well, as professionals. 

Thanks to meeting and observing various youth workers coming from different countries in the activities I’ve taken part in, I’ve kind of started dreaming that maybe one day, I would get on this path as well. Life made it so that I’ve got to taste how it would be to work with young people this year, in Georgia in a project called “Growing future in outdoor life”.

Youth workers within the Erasmus+ program

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When I heard about this occupation for the first time, I didn’t know anything about its meaning, but the term surprisingly started to make sense when I participated in the first Youth Exchange experience I had. It was an Erasmus+ project having the organization I’m working in, EIVA, and an organization from Reunion Island, called Mission Locale. The project’s topic was Entrepreneurship education, and it united 30 young learners from Romania and Reunion.

The timetable of the project was split into two parts of activity for a total of 14 days in both countries. The ones that facilitated this experience were Youth Workers. So, I will now get you more into the topic of Youth Work, and help you discover what is it to be a youth worker, and how can you become a youth worker.

Non-formal education in Erasmus+ and Youth Work

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One of the aims of the Erasmus+ program is to promote non-formal education (NFE) as a way to develop the skills and competencies of young people, as well as to support the development of inclusive and cohesive societies.

NFE can take many different forms, from online learning platforms to face-to-face training courses. It is flexible and can be adapted to the needs of different groups of people.

The Erasmus+ program supports a wide range of NFE activities, including:

– Training for youth workers and volunteers

– Peer-learning activities

– Seminars, conferences, and workshops

– Online courses and e-learning tools

So, If you are interested in using NFE to support the development of young people, the Erasmus+ program can offer you a wealth of opportunities.

What is an Erasmus+ youth worker? 

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A youth worker is a professional who works with young people to help them develop their skills and abilities. Erasmus+ youth workers typically work in community organizations, schools, government agencies, or other youth-serving settings. They may also work for national or international organizations that provide support and resources for young people. There are many different types of youth workers, but they all work with young people in some capacity to help them reach their full potential.

To be a youth worker in the Erasmus+ program, you have to be part of an organization that is involved in implementing Erasmus+ mobility projects. Your organization is applying for a project that implied youth workers’ facilitation and if the project is accepted, you are ready to deliver some non-formal educational activities to young minds coming from different sides of the world.

What do youth workers do as a profession? – Youth Work

Youth workers are involved in international organizations, such as Erasmus+. The term youth worker was first used in the late 19th century by groups such as the Guild of Youth Workers and is now a recognized profession.

Basically, Youth workers provide non-formal educational support to give young people worldwide a voice and a way to participate fully in society.

Youth work is distinctive in that it takes a holistic perspective on young people’s learner identities and experiences, supporting them to learn for themselves while simultaneously developing understandings, knowledge, and skills important for life experience.

Erasmus+ opportunities involving youth workers as facilitators

Erasmus+ workshops are held by professional facilitators who take youngsters on a journey that eventually leads them towards European values: from tolerance to respect for different cultures, from inclusion towards diversity; from ecology as care and safeguard towards taking responsibility through entrepreneurship, architecture for daily life, and even mindfulness! The activities stimulate imagination and facilitate re-designing mindsets able to capacity building for individuals as well as collective groups.

What does it take to be a youth worker? – Find to the steps in becoming a youth worker

Youth workers have to enroll in training focusing on youth work methods and practices, to learn how to effectively use the non-formal educational tools developed for this typology of work. Also, they can work in several settings including the public, private, voluntary, and community sectors. The type of services they offer to young people will depend on the needs of the young people they work with, which means that no two days are the same for youth workers.

Generally speaking, it can take a great deal of patience, compassion, and understanding to be an effective youth worker. Additionally, it is often important for youth workers to be able to relate to and connect with young people to build trust and create positive relationships. Youth workers can come from a variety of backgrounds and disciplines, but they all share a commitment to empowering young people.

Types of opportunities to involve in youth work:

Youth Exchanges: “short-term exchanges”, which take place for 7 to 21 days;

Training Courses, which take place for 8-15 days;

A short training, which takes place for from 3 to 5 days;

All of those opportunities include one to three travel days in plus.

Youth workers’ personalities and life skills

As a youth worker, you will need to possess a range of skills to be effective in your role. These skills include:

  • Engagement with young people
  •  Management of different behaviors
  • Delivering programs and activities
  • Interpersonal experience
  • Organizational skills
  • Interactive presence
  • Creativity
  • Patience and flexibility

If you have these skills, you will be well on your way to being an effective youth worker.

What are the responsibilities of a youth worker?

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Working with youth can be a rewarding but challenging endeavor. As a youth worker, you will be responsible for providing social, emotional, and physical support to young people. You will also be responsible for helping them develop positive life skills and knowledge.

Some of the specific responsibilities of a youth worker include:

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  • Providing guidance and support to young people
  • Helping them develop positive life skills
  • Encouraging youths
  • Providing them with opportunities for personal and professional development
  • Helping them develop positive relationships with their peers and adults
  • Serving as a role model, mentor
  • Develop and host activities oriented on specific targets

Where do youth workers follow their profession? – An amazing professional journey

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Youth-serving organizations and programs have a role to play in preparing young people for their lives ahead. Erasmus+ youth exchanges and Youth training are where youth workers facilitate non-formal activities for youth around the world to develop themselves in certain topics such as:

  • active citizenship
  • environment protection
  • inclusion
  • entrepreneurship
  • creativity and digital literacy
  • mindfulness
  • and many more..

How are youth workers developing their competencies constantly?

Youth workers active in the Erasmus+ program can engage themselves in various learning opportunities that are aimed to boost their capacities in matters of professional facilitation. Youth workers are continuously training themselves through participation in seminars, training courses, contact-making events, and study visits. They also network with others in their field through job shadowing and observation periods abroad in active youth organizations.

Youth worker’s resources platform – Salto Youth

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If you want to be a youth worker, or you have already started to be a professional in this area of work, I have a recommendation for you. There is a website called Salto Youth. This website represents a network of 7 Resource Centres working on European priority areas within the youth field. Moreover, This platform allows workers in the field of youth to find training in various European countries related to their professional experience, or training for the development of new ones as youth workers. There, you can consult the training calendar to see where and when are there going to be available opportunities for you. 

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Screenshoot froom Salto Youth

Also on this website, you will be also able to find various resources for the youth work practices, such as manuals, toolboxes for youth work, tools for developing non-formal activities, and inspiration regarding activity types. Moreover, the Salto Youth website has a great database with the project’s summaries and outputs created throughout its implementation. The various materials that you can find there are split between the type of tool you are searching for, the topic, and the type of action.

Youth work, a balance between passion and dedication

Youth work is a great subject to talk about. Even while writing this article I cannot stop but think about the youth workers that I’ve met during these years and how much I’ve learned from them. It takes great involvement and passion to become a youth worker and achieve the power of teaching young minds. I will end this paragraph by mentioning Gvantsa Mezvrishvili, a youth worker from Georgia as an example of an incredible youth worker, She is part of an organization called “Youth for the world” and also owns her organization called “Youth Creative Platform” 

Moreover, as an inspiration of what youth work is, I recommend you to follow those pages on either Facebook or Instagram. Those pages are not only to be visited by youth workers in progress, but also by youths that want to engage in Youth Exchange projects. Every year, they have a minimum of 30 open calls for participants from Europe and not only for youth exchange mobilities, free of charge, and full of meaning.