Illustration by Madalina Pavel (Picturise)


Steering the gears: supporting youth policy actions and actors for 25 years

 by Zara Lavchyan 


The Youth Partnership has been supporting youth policy development and evaluation for 25 years. It offers diverse instruments responding to emerging needs from the field. These encompass research, practical capacity-building projects such as Shaping youth policy in practice, educational and resource materials such as training kits (T-Kits), manuals, guidelines, fact sheets, summaries of symposia and conferences, practice compilations, Essentials on the main topics, online courses, webinars, analytical papers and mappings, videos, illustrations and podcasts. 

The Youth Partnership has played a major role in enhancing youth policy within its wide realm and locations of work, with a focus also on supporting the new democracies to set up and maintain their youth policy approaches and strategies. It has worked at all angles of the “magic triangle” (and as wide a shape as you can see in the MOOC on Youth Policy Essentials), supporting policy makers, practitioners and the research community by raising issues, hot topics, building the capacity of the actors, opening platforms for exchange of expertise, providing a knowledge base, and the spaces and processes for networking. Through its work, it has managed to develop a targeted support system to steer a highly connected and interlinked system. Moreover, as an institution, it has managed to develop very personal relationships with the member states and youth policy actors, which has resulted in highly individualised, long-lasting, tailor-made, dialogical connection and support. 


 A brief overview of resources on youth policy development and evaluation

 The Essentials 

The Essentials series were developed to give a compact introduction to youth research, policy and youth work, and they have become a kind of reference point giving the main definitions and essential points to explore further. Youth Policy Essentials provides an overview of the main concepts, principles, approaches and challenges of youth policy. It aims to help readers understand how policies can enable young people to be active citizens, support their inclusion in society, and help them to realise their potential. It is available in more than 10 languages.

 ABOUT TIME! A reference manual for youth policy from a European perspective 

This Youth policy manual aims to empower those in the youth sector, including policy makers, researchers, practitioners and young people, to actively engage in youth policy making and emphasises the cyclical nature of this process. It serves as a reference tool for initiating, understanding and implementing youth policy, offering a wide range of standards, tools and resources developed by stakeholders across Europe.

 Training kit on participatory youth policy 

This T-Kit complements the Youth policy manual and provides educational support for building youth sector capacity for participatory policy making. It is a versatile tool for educators in the youth field, youth workers, policy planners and implementers, which can also be used to train managers and administrators involved in educational processes related to youth policy. It is part of a range of resources for promoting and exploring participatory youth policy practices designed to benefit practitioners and policy makers in the field of youth policy.

 Insights series 

The Insights series aims to provide a global understanding of specific topics related to youth policy, offering snapshots into a diversity of models and approaches. The series includes editions on youth policy governance, evaluation, research and youth work. Insights into youth policy governance focuses on the legal frameworks that underpin youth policies, the public structures responsible for policy implementation and the involvement of young people in these processes. The analysis is based on a multi-country review of contributions from EKCYP and Youth Wiki chapters. 

 Shaping youth policy in practice 

The initiative has been running since 2013. This programme aims to enhance the capabilities of individuals engaged in youth policy. In the 2023 edition, for example, an Armenian cross-sectoral group works on a new draft youth law, Moldova, Ukraine and Portugal put their efforts into the youth work field and work on professional qualifications and educational systems, the Hungarian team is focusing on Roma inclusion and education, while Bosnia and Herzegovina aims to enhance youth mobility. 

 E-learning on youth policy 

The Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on Youth Policy Essentials is an introductory course, encompassing the knowledge and resources already developed by the field in the last years. The course was first held in 2017 (then in 2018 and 2019) and from 2023 it is self-paced. It is open to everyone and is free of charge. Youth policy makers, youth workers, youth leaders, youth NGOs and youth researchers and anyone whose voluntary or professional work involves engaging with young people can benefit from this course and are invited to join. 

 E-library of youth sector evaluation 

The e-library of youth sector evaluation is a vital resource for advancing youth-focused policies and practices. It enhances knowledge dissemination and promotes a culture of continual youth policy improvement. One can find evaluation methods, reports, practices, projects, definitions, models and more. 

 Podcasts, videos and illustrations 

The Youth Partnership offers a wealth of multimedia content, including videos, podcasts, interviews, infographics and thematic illustrations, covering diverse topics focused on empowering and understanding the needs of young people and facilitating knowledge building and transfer between youth policy, practice, research and the youth themselves. 


 How these resources support national youth policy 

There are many ways in which Youth Partnership resources have been and are turned into tools to support work and improvements at national and regional levels. Here are only a few that present the scope of what is out there. These various resources have inspired the creation of local materials, processes, choice of priority areas and use of instruments.

 Identifying trends and starting discussions:  The Youth Partnership is great at sensing, spotting and highlighting emerging trends and issues in the youth sector. It then initiates vital discussions that enable policy makers to stay informed and responsive to the evolving youth-related challenges. Have a look at digitalisation and AI, learning mobility, sustainability and climate change, youth work recognition, youth transitions in current times, and other thematic research. The symposia are stimulating thematic discussions and policy responses which are brought back into member states in the form of questions, priorities, programmes, policy and research agenda points.

 Providing guidance for youth policy development, analysis, evaluation, and implementation:  By offering comprehensive methodologies and guidelines, the Youth Partnership equips policy makers with structured approaches and instruments to develop, assess and implement effective youth policies that align with international standards and best practices. For example, the youth policy manual, several T-Kits and Essential series are being translated into national languages and used in their own contexts and in youth policy and youth worker training courses. There is an interesting regional dimension of the work as well. Regional meetings and resources create a space for regional networking and mutual development. The models used in Serbia for promotion of the European Youth Work Agenda presented at the Visible Value seminar and in its publications have been inspiring for the countries of the regions to take the topic to governmental cross-sectoral level.

 Providing space and facilitated processes for sharing between member states:  The Youth Partnership fosters collaboration between the European Commission and the Council of Europe, and also the member states, creating platforms for the exchange of successful youth policy practices and enabling bilateral or multilateral co-operation, thereby enriching the collective knowledge base. The Shaping Youth Policy project prompted national delegations to share what they have developed with colleagues on youth work qualification frameworks and provided thematic webinars with field experts to enhance the work and bring new questions and insights. The Irish and Estonian youth worker educational experience has supported the country delegations of the 2023 edition in shaping their work.

 Consolidating knowledge on practices and tools:  Everyone asks for good practice projects, policies and programmes. Through its work, the Partnership compiles a wealth of knowledge and practical examples, serving as a valuable resource for policy makers and practitioners seeking proven strategies and solutions in youth policy development. Models of youth policy governance, definitions and quality standards have been used to contribute to youth law development in Armenia, and participatory policy making in Montenegro.

 Offering opportunities for capacity building for efficient youth policy work:  The Youth Partnership offers educational activities and capacity-building programmes that empower youth policy actors in the member states with skills and knowledge required to formulate and implement impactful policies. The MOOC on Youth Policy Essentials both gives a chance for people to learn distantly but also inspires MOOCs in member states such as in Portugal, Georgia and Moldova, who have taken up the idea and have created their national youth policy MOOCs.

 Supporting non-formal education in the field of youth with materials for educators:  By designing educational materials and resources tailored to non-formal education with translations into various languages, the Partnership facilitates the growth of educators and youth workers, enabling them to better engage and empower young people in the youth policy process. The manuals touch upon many basic and emerging themes and help to put the theory into practical exercises to enhance learning. T-Kits, which have been translated into many languages, are a great example of how policy can be supported through educational interventions, preparing the actors for policy level work. 


 Partnership resources democratising the youth field 

In a short interview, we asked Miriam Teuma, youth policy expert, professional, bureau member and former chairperson of the Council of Europe’s European Steering Committee for Youth, to share with us her insights on the use of resources at national levels and the influence of these resources in shaping and improving youth policies across member states in the last 25 years.

 The Youth Partnership is celebrating its 25th anniversary. In your view, what has been its most significant contribution to youth policy development over the years? 

The Youth Partnership has facilitated comprehensive research initiatives aimed at understanding the varied and dynamic needs of young people across Europe. The production of in-depth studies, reports and databases has provided us policy makers with accurate, relevant and timely information. These knowledge resources have been pivotal in shaping youth policies that are responsive to the evolving youth trends and challenges.

 Could you share an example of a specific resource from the Youth Partnership that has had a notable impact on shaping youth policies on a European or national level? How did this resource influence youth development?

Oh, this is very difficult because there are so many. The Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on Youth Policy Essentials was for me personally a milestone in democratising access to youth policy development. In my opinion it reached an international audience that included policy makers, youth workers, educators and young activists. Its digital nature has mitigated geographical and logistical barriers, making it accessible to stakeholders in even the most remote areas. Besides this, it contained a rigorous academic foundation and practical relevance. By combining theoretical modules with real case studies, it provided a comprehensive overview of the critical elements that shape effective youth policies, including social inclusion and participation. I believe that at a European level, the MOOC has enriched the discourse surrounding youth policies by introducing interesting methodologies and best practices. It has thereby influenced the strategic direction of various European initiatives focused on youth. Nationally, of course and in conjunction with the Youth Policy Essentials it has guided the revision of our past youth policy documents, emphasising evidence-based strategies and inclusive approaches. I also think that it has upskilled a broad array of stakeholders in the youth sector and has indirectly contributed to enhanced policy design and delivery.

 In your experience, what challenges do policy makers often face when developing and evaluating youth policies, and how do the resources from the Youth Partnership help address these challenges? 

There are many, but I want to focus on a particular one – the challenge to evaluate the implementation of national youth policy. The extensive work that the Youth Partnership has published on policy evaluation is crucial for those who want to learn about the best tools to use when evaluating policy. Insights series of the Partnership are definitely insightful for such exercise. 

 For organisations and individuals interested in using the resources of the Youth Partnership, what advice or insights would you offer to maximise the benefits of these tools in their own work?

My advice is to master the ability of adapting what is produced by the Youth Partnership to the national needs. Sometimes it is easy to read a good practice for example and say to yourself that it is easy to replicate it in your own country. However, each situation has its own context which is very different from any other context. Thus, if we want to maximise the benefits of any of these tools, it is important (that after we understand what is being presented to us in the publication or in a MOOC) to think critically, find ways on how to collaborate with others, be resilient and believe that through dedication and hard work we can develop what we have in mind. 


 Many 25s more still to go 

In celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Youth Partnership, it is clear that this initiative has been an important driving force in advancing youth policy across Europe. Through an extensive array of resources, it has enriched the landscape of youth policy by fostering knowledge dissemination, capacity building, and co-operation among policy makers, practitioners and researchers. The Partnership’s commitment to promoting informed, evidence-based decision making and its emphasis on participatory approaches have played a pivotal role in shaping youth policy development, implementation and evaluation. With its diverse range of materials, educational initiatives and collaborative platforms, the Youth Partnership continues to be a beacon of support for those dedicated to enhancing the well-being and future prospects of young people throughout the continent. 








 Issue 36 

 25 years: 
 Youth Partnership 



Zara is a trainer, expert and author in non-formal education, in love with learning about learning.