Integrating the European Youth Work Agenda in training courses: an example from “Let’s Go Civic!”

Find out about the benefits of integrating the European Youth Work Agenda into training courses. The statements of participants of the training course  “Let’s Go Civic! Civic Education in Youth Exchanges” provide insights into an inspirational session.

From the 6th to 11th of November 2023, the German National Agency hosted a Training Course Activity (TC) titled “Let’s Go Civic! Civic Education in Youth Exchanges”. It was a training course for youth workers and others who work with young people.

The idea behind the training course was to make civic education an integral part of youth exchanges. The context for the training course is in the light of the current situation in Europe and the ever increasing need to promote awareness of democracy, participation and critical thinking about political and social issues among young people. “Let’s Go Civic!” provided participants an introduction to the topics of civic education and gave space for the development of ideas and concepts on how to bring the topic into their youth exchanges.

What is the European Youth Work Agenda?

One element introduced at the training course was the European Youth Work Agenda. The reason this was included was to raise awareness among the youth workers about youth work at the European political level and to share knowledge about the Agenda and the Bonn Process as potentially beneficial European frameworks for their own working context. When the group was asked, the majority confessed that they did not know about either, though a few of them had heard of the Agenda.

“Knowing that the Agenda exists gives me legitimisation in the eyes of the municipality and other agencies who work with young people. I have a European political document that represents me!”. (Participant)

The trainers team provided a brief overview of the Agenda and where it had come from. The participants were then provided the link to the Bonn Process website and asked to research the eight priority areas in small groups. Their specific task was to explore the relevance of these eight priority areas for their work with young people.

A guide for youth organisations

The overall impression of the participants was that the priority areas stand as a guide for youth organisations, partly for the development of their face-to-face work and partly for their own policies and strategies. The groups reflections highlighted important and specific points relating to several of the priority areas, these included:

As grassroots youth organisations, they see the importance of expanding the youth work offer to keep developing and growing. They felt that youth organisations in general need to be more aware of what young people need to know how and which kind of youth work to offer. While they can be informed by policy developments for this expansion and development, they feel they too can be the ones to guide the policy makers.

A part of their work that they identified as needing greater focus, was making connections between different youth organisations as well as other organisations or institutions that work with young people. They said that for them the Agenda promotes engagement with different sectors because it legitimises and recognises youth work as something valuable.

The recognition of them as youth workers was probably the single most important point with regards to their feedback about the Agenda. They felt it gave them acknowledgement and with that they have more power to creatively address the different arising needs of young people. At the same time, they can ask for the support they need from outside the sector because they have better recognition.

For countries where youth work is still not recognised or is beginning to be recognised, the participants stated that the Agenda provides a supportive environment and shows state institutions that they don’t need to start from scratch, many things are already defined, it offers a road map for the long-term process of youth work development.

They also felt that the Agenda boosts youth work by strengthening and further developing practice and policies. It therefore enhances the visibility of youth work in society. The benefit is the instruments on how youth organisations should work and get funds to involve young people to act.

Spread the Agenda

This example shows how beneficial it was for the participants and the programme of the training course to include the European Youth Work Agenda. Hopefully, this example can serve as inspiration to others to include this topic in existing formats and programmes, thereby ensuring the benefits of the Agenda are known by a broader cross-section of the youth work community of practice.

This will further support the aim of the Bonn Process, namely “strengthening and developing youth work further across Europe.”