Defining youth work and youth work beneficiaries 

Youth work

Youth work is multifaceted practice. This makes it difficult to identify the defining features of youth work.

In the resolution on a renewed framework for European co-operation in the youth field (November 2009) youth work has been defined in such a way: ‘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, in groups or individually. 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."

The Council of Europe`s 2017 Recommendatiöns on Youth Work, youth work is defined as follows:

"Youth work is delivered by paid and volunteer youth workers and is based on non-formal and informal learning processes focused on young people and on voluntary participation. Youth work is quintessentially a social practice, working with young people and the societies in which they live, facilitating young people’s active participation and inclusion in their communities and in decision making. Despite different traditions and definitions, there is a common understanding that the primary function of youth work is to motivate and support young people to find and pursue constructive pathways in life, thus contributing to their personal and social development and to society at large. Youth work achieves this by empowering and engaging young people in the active creation, preparation, delivery and evaluation of initiatives and activities that reflect their needs, interests, ideas and experiences. Through this process of non-formal and informal learning, young people gain the knowledge, skills, values and attitudes they need in order to move forward with confidence."

A common feature of all these practices is the use of methods of non-formal education (educational activities outside the formal educational system) and the emphasis on voluntary participation. These two characteristics distinguish youth work from other educational interventions, be it interventions in the private sphere of the family or interventions in the public, formal institutions like schools. 

Youth work starts where young people are and does not have to bother with pre-structured programmes or predefined learning outcomes. At the same time – as stressed by Peter Lauritzen - youth work is committed to the social inclusion and integration of young people.

Therefore youth work is a polyvalent and powerful, but ambivalent, practice.

Youth work is a form of informal education, which has an  ambivalent position between private aspirations and public expectations, thus it is not possible, to impose a single concept of youth work. As a social and educational practice youth work intervenes in situations with a history of their own. Nevertheless, it seems clear that youth workers and youth policymakers across all countries do have a shared knowledge base when discussing youth work.

There seems to be a shared set of values and methods in youth work practices all around Europe:

  1. Voluntary participation of young people 
  2. Listening to the voice of young people
  3. Bringing young people together
  4. Connecting to young people's lifeworld
  5. Broadening young people's lifeworld

Digital Youth Work

Proactively using or addressing digital media and technology in youth work.

Digital media and technology can be either a tool, an activity or a content in youth work.

Digital youth work is not a youth work method, it can be included in any youth work setting and it has the same goals as youth work in general. 

Youth Activity

An out-of-school activity (such as youth exchange, volunteering or youth training) carried out by a young person, either individually or in a group, in particular through youth organisations, and characterised by a non-formal learning approach.

Youth Worker

A professional or a volunteer involved in non-formal learning who supports young people in their personal socio-educational, and professional development.


​The European tool to improve the recognition of the learning outcomes of young people and youth workers from their participation in projects supported by the Erasmus+ Programme. Youthpass consists of: a) certificates that can be obtained by participants in several Actions of the Programme; and b) a defined process which supports young people, youth workers and youth organisations to reflect about the learning outcomes from an Erasmus+ project in the field of youth and non-formal learning. Youthpass is also part of a broader European Commission strategy which aims to enhance the recognition of non-formal and informal learning and of youth work in Europe and beyond.

EYNCRIN`s youth work beneficiaries 

The age range of those who benefit from youth work provision should reflect the legal and constitutional framework and existing practices in each of the EYNCRIN member organization states. In most our member organizations, youth is defined to be young people age 16-25.