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© University of South Wales A future for youth work? A view from research, policy and practice across Europe Howard Williamson Professor of European Youth Policy
‘Taking youth work a step further’ Declaration of the 1 st EU Youth Work Convention The Council Resolution of the Member States And the EU strategy (2009) was emphatic: “Youth work can help to deal with unemployment, school failure, social exclusion, provide leisure time,, increase skills and support the transition from youth to adulthood” “Youth work should be supported, recognised for its economic and social contribution, and professionalised” © University of South Wales Three years ago – The Belgium EU Presidency
© University of South Wales Some key points of recognition about youth work from the Resolution Youth work can ‘offer considerable benefits for young people’ Youth work ‘can have added social value’ Youth work (supports) young people to develop a wide range of different personal and professional skills Youth work has ‘a considerable socio-economic potential’ In the context of the implementation of a competitive, inclusive and sustainable Europe 2020 Strategy of recognising the crucial role of youth work as a provider of non-formal learning opportunities to all young people
FOR THE MEMBER STATES TO : promote different kinds of sustainable support for youth work support the role of youth work in implementing the renewed framework involve local and regional authorities to play an important role in… youth work FOR THE MEMBER STATES AND THE COMMISSION: create better conditions for the development… of youth work fully acknowledge… and reinforce the role of youth work enable youth work to further develop its quality support the …. capacity building … and training of youth workers recognition, employability, research and information, exchange and assessment of youth work © University of South Wales Some key recommendations (‘invitations’) from the Resolution
Public sector cuts Privatisation From generic to targeted provision Central focus on employability Harnessing youth work to wider youth policy agendas and priorities Renewed emphasis on voluntary youth work © University of South Wales And what has happened since?
EU debate around Erasmus for All CoE restructuring UK decimation of youth work Youth sector on a ‘knife edge’ as one-third of organisations at risk – closing doors, cutting time Wales Principles and Purposes v. a National Strategy for Youth Services England: the relegation of youth policy to municipal level outcome measurements and social impact bonds the closure of my modest youth centre after 40 years © University of South Wales Some examples
Histories of youth work in Europe Safety nets and trampolines Sanctuaries and enterprise Personal and positional change Youth work and policy connections Youth work and private sector In defence of youth work: dinosaurs or dynamism? POYWE – long live open youth work? Cherished values v. Sacred Cows © University of South Wales The diversities and definitions of youth work
Let us see what GHK has to say, as youth work disappears: “ As I reflected on the demise of youth work in a centre I myself served for 24 years I thought about how it gave young people sanctuary, self-belief, new horizons, space to be themselves, advocacy and support, information and guidance, different ideas, and changed plans for the future. My youth work might sometimes have been largely leisure-based provision but at other times it held young people’s lives together when everything else in their teenage and young adult lives was going pear-shaped: school, work, lack of work, family relationships, girlfriends and boyfriends, peer groups and more. And I was there for the most troubled and troublesome, dealing unsensationally and often invisibly with issues to do with drugs, crime, sexual health and homelessness.” © University of South Wales Research and Reality
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