European Youth Work Convention - 2015
The European Youth Work Convention 2015 is one of the flagship initiatives of the Belgian Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe (November 2014 - May 2015). It will take place five years after the 1st Convention organised in Ghent on 7-10 July 2010 in the framework of the Belgian EU Presidency. This 1st Convention resulted in the Declaration of Ghent and the Resolution of the EU Council of 18-19 November 2010 on youth work, a milestone for the recognition and support of youth work in Europe.
Since 2010, important developments occurred in both youth work practice and policy. Young people have been heavily hit by rising unemployment rates while austerity policies have endangered funding for youth work in different parts of Europe. At the same time the crisis created incentive and opportunity for the rise of alternative forms of youth work and innovative approaches to youth participation. The situation is widely contrasted in the different countries accross Europe as highlighted in the 'case studies' from the Convention background paper 'Finding commong ground: Mapping and scanning the horizons for European youth work in the 21st century - Towards the 2nd European Youth Work Convention'.
These evolutions called for an assessment of the situation in order to give a new impetus to youth work policy in Europe. The current prevailing trend focuses on youth work as an ‘instrument’ for labour market oriented learning and the recognition of individually gained competences. A new balance is required to emphasize the value of youth work for personal development, empowerment, citizenship, participation, social inclusion, cultural awareness, expression, friendship and fun. There is an urgent need to renew the youth work strategy. This should be done building upon the EU Youth Strategy until 2018 and the Agenda 2020 of the Council of Europe youth policy. In order to ensure continuity and support future developments in the field, the post-2018 and post-2020 horizon should also be taken into consideration.
The Convention will be a unique opportunity to give a new impetus to the political and institutional debate around youth work in Europe. The Convention will gather stakeholders from all over Europe bringing together complementary knowledge, perspectives and experiences on youth work in order to:
- Map and review the evolutions in youth work practice and policy since 2010;
- Discuss challenges facing youth work at local, national and European level;
- Find common ground within the diversity of youth work in order to foster recognition.
Analysis and ideas formulated by participants during the Convention will be collected by rapporteurs. They will form the basis of a final Declaration which will be presented in the closing plenary session 'Looking ahead'. The aim of the final Declaration is to:
- Contribute to the elaboration of a renewed strategy, agenda and action plan for youth work in Europe;
- Trigger an institutional process towards an agreement on the value and significance of youth work at Council of Europe and/or EU level;
- Send a strong message of support to policymakers and practitioners to continue developping and renewing youth work in Europe.