The Convention was a unique opportunity to give a new impetus to the political and institutional debate around youth work in Europe. The Convention gathered stakeholders from all over Europe bringing together complementary knowledge, perspectives and experiences on youth work.
What is youth work?
A policy definition
Youth work is a broad term covering a large scope of activities of a social, cultural, educational or political nature both by, with and for young people. Increasingly, such activities also include sport and services for young people. Youth work belongs to the area of ‘out-of-school’ education, as well as specific leisure time activities managed by professional or voluntary youth workers and youth leaders and is based on non-formal learning processes and on voluntary participation. (Council Resolution of 27 November 2009 on a renewed framework for European cooperation in the youth field (2010-2018))
A diversity of practice
A policy definition cannot capture the diversity of what youth work is and does. The best way to illustrate youth work is to ask young people themselves how youth work changed their life and hear their testimony.
Meet Yasmin Sheikh, Rashid Aslam and Irfan Yusuf who introduce us to their boxing project in Leicester in the United Kingdom and explain how they give something they would have needed as kids themselves
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.
The current state of play for youth work in Europe - coupled with its history and evolution that has taken many different forms - calls for establishing whether there are today prevailing, consensual ideas throughout Europe on what youth work is and does. The 2nd European Youth Work Convention will aim at finding common ground within the diversity of youth work practice by tackling seven themes:
- The meaning, the 'raison d'être' of youth work
- The aims and anticipated outcomes of youth work
- The patterns and practices constituting youth work
- The connections between youth work and wider work with young people (formal education, training and employment, entrepreneurship and more)
- The recognition of youth work within and beyond the youth field
- The need for education and training for quality
- The value of youth work for young people, their communities and society at large
The themes have been elaborated by Howard Williamson in 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' (p. 5).
These themes will be addressed through 24 to 30 thematic workshops entitled 'Towards common ground' and managed by experienced facilitators. Elements of consensus as well as diverging points of view emerging from the discussions will be collected by rapporteurs. This input from all participants will form the basis for the final Declaration drafted by the team of editors.
Who can participate?
Who can participate?
PARTICIPANTS TO THE CONVENTION
The Convention will bring together:
- About 200 youth workers
- About 60 representatives from Ministries of Youth
- About 40 representatives from the National Agencies of the Erasmus+ programme
- About 50 youth researchers (including the Pool of European Youth Researchers)
They are part of national delegations from the 50 signatory countries to the European Cultural Convention of the Council of Europe.
In addition to these national delegations, the Convention will also be attended by:
- International delegations composed of about 30 youth workers selected by the Advisory Council and the European Youth Forum
- About 40 policymakers from European institutions and advocates of youth work from European youth NGOs
- About 20 experts on youth work and youth policy
- About 20 high-level speakers
- About 60 facilitators, rapporteurs and staff members
Altogether they constitute the key actors responsible from promoting and developping youth work at local, national or European level.
CAN I JOIN THE CONVENTION?
The Convention is not open for individual registration. Participants to the Convention have been selected by their respective national Ministry on the basis of gender and geographical balance, representativeness, diversity and other relevant criteria. The invitation letter was sent to national Ministires end of January 2015. A copy of the letter was sent to the National Youth Council and National Agency of the Erasmus+/Youth in Action programme, in countries where they exist.
Follow the opening and closing plenary sessions live on 27 April from 15:00 to 18:30 and 30 April from 9:30 to 11:45!
High-level representatives from the Belgian Chairmanship, the main European institutions and youth NGOs emphasize, from their specific angle, the relevance of the second European Youth Work Convention:
- Isabelle Simonis, Minister for Education for social advancement, Youth, Women’s Rights and Equal opportunities, French Community of Belgium
- Paulo Pinheiro, Chair of the Joint Council on Youth, Council of Europe
- Bérénice Jond, Board member, European Youth Forum
- Xavier Prats Monné, Director General of DG Education and Culture, European Commission
- Jean-Christophe Bas, Director for Democratic Citizenship and Participation, Council of Europe
Paul Kloosterman and Howard Williamson will give some background on the Convention and the seven themes we will be discussing these four days:
Hello, is it me you’re looking for?
By Paul Kloosterman, Youth Worker and Free-lance Trainer
Paul Kloosterman will link his experiences in youth work and training to the objectives and key themes of the Convention. He will try to find together with you—with the help of Lionel Ritchie—the ‘right’ spirit to make the Convention a success.
Towards common ground
By Howard Williamson CBE, Professor of European Youth Policy, University of South Wales
Howard Williamson will present the Convention background paper ‘Towards common ground’. His analysis of the evolutions of youth work practice and policy in Europe since 2010 sets the context of the Convention and the seven themes that will be tackled throughout the programme.
- Sven Gatz, Minister for Culture, Media, Youth, and Brussels, Flemish Community of Belgium
- Howard Williamson CBE, Professor of European Youth Policy, University of South Wales
- Tibor Navracsics, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, European Commission
Panel discussion moderated by Antje Rothemund, Head of the Youth Department, Council of Europe, with:
- Santa Ozolina, high-level representative from the Latvian Presidency of the Council of the European Union
- Ralph Schroeder, high-level representative from the upcoming Luxembourg Presidency of the Council of the European Union
- Johanna Nyman, President, European Youth Forum
- Paulo Pinheiro, Chair of the Joint Council on Youth, Council of Europe
- Uwe Finke-Timpe, high-level representative from the Federal Republic of Germany
Closing keynote speakers:
- Ahmed Alhendawi, Secretary General’s Envoy on Youth, United Nations
- Snežana Samardžić-Marković, Director General of Democracy, Council of Europe
- Isabelle Weykmans, Minister of Culture, Employment and Tourism, Germanspeaking Community of Belgium