The publication marks a quarter of a century of EU youth programmes accompanied by EU youth policy. It brings together some of the thinking that inspires – and is inspired by – EU actions for youth to encourage debate about what youth work and non-formal learning can contribute to European education. It reviews EU cooperation in the field from different perspectives, points to successes and sets out possible future scenarios, particularly in the context of the Erasmus+ programme.
The book outlines the current status of education, reflecting evolving challenges and opportunities and the way the formal education sector is becoming informalised, while non-formal learning is simultaneously becoming more formalised. It looks at the significance of Europe in young people’s life and at the progress triggered by EU youth programmes and policies and their contribution to quality of youth work in Europe, collaboration among stakeholders and recognition and validation of non-formal and informal learning.
Cooperation at EU level is seen as a source of innovation and an aid to critical revision of national practices. The book explores the need for youth work’s professionalisation and Europeanisation, with the European training strategy’s provision of non-formal learning opportunities for hundreds of thousands of participants. It looks at how youth work and non-formal learning are preparing young people for the changing world of work through a process of empowerment, while drawing a link between young people’s recognition of their competencies and their ability to gain individual responsibility and to become actors of change.
The publication reviews social inclusion and the need to redefine youth work to respond to the current concerns of young people – faced by unemployment, increased migration, economic difficulties, family breakdown and issues confronting minorities. EU youth programme development, particularly in the inclusion strategy, reflects these aspects: close to 24% of Youth in Action participants were young people with fewer opportunities. It considers the specific nature of youth participation in the changing world and how the role of the structured dialogue could be maximized, while taking into account the importance of the internet and social networking.
While many of the remedies and strategies suggested in this publication depend on action by policymakers, there is a clear and widely shared message that youth workers themselves can also help to shape the future. Not only can they bring new and wider resources to their work with young people, they can also help to create a louder common voice that can influence policy and change in education and society.