Luckily, the picture is not all black. The Belgian presidency of the Council of the European Union arranged two conferences in Ghent on issues bound to feed into the build-up of the EU 2020 flagship initiative Youth on the move: The History of Youth Work Conference (5 to 7 July) and the First European Youth Work Convention (7 to 10 July 2010).
The Declaration of the 1st Youth Work Convention, now downloadable through the conference website, is addressed to the Ministers responsible for Youth in the member states of the European Union and the Council of Europe, as well as regional and local actors.
During the Convention youth work was briefly defined as the provision of ‘space and opportunity for young people to shape their own futures’ (page 3).
According to the Declaration (page 5):
Youth work must avoid seeing any group of young people solely as targets for inclusion and participation and more as partners in activism for the promotion of diversity in society.
From a discussion of various issues, the Declaration went on to sketch the next steps to be taken with regard to European youth work (page 6 to 7):
The Convention recognised the responsibility of youth workers themselves to contribute when it can on the agendas outlined above, but they also need enabling politically and financially. At the European level, there is a range of political initiatives and actions in the youth field (and beyond but still affecting young people, youth work and youth policy) taking place over the next year. The content of this Declaration should therefore be taken into account in those debates. The Declaration is intended to encourage the maintenance of attention to youth work and young people within these policy debates. These include:
• Europe 2020 strategy and its flagship project ‘Youth on the Move’
• The anticipated Recommendation of the Council on the Promotion of Mobility
• The anticipated Recommendation of the Council on the Recognition of Non-Formal Learning
• The new generation of programmes that will follow Youth in Action in 2013
• The preceding debate that will inform the design of the future EU ‘youth’ programme
• The further development of non-formal learning dimensions of Europass
• The new Pathways 2.0 on the validation and recognition of non-formal learning
• The new training strategy on youth work in Europe within the Youth in Action programme
The 1st European Youth Work Convention, from which this Declaration has emerged, has started the debate on youth work in Europe. The Convention asks that the momentum established should be taken forward within the existing youth policy frameworks of both the European Union and the Council of Europe:
• The renewed framework for European co-operation in the youth field
• The Resolution on the youth policy of the Council of Europe
The Convention requests that, on the basis of this Declaration, the European Union, the Council of Europe and their member states, and the current and next trio Presidencies of the EU should build up an agenda, an action plan and the necessary resources for its realisation. The agenda should culminate in a 2nd European Youth Work Convention. To conclude, this Declaration also looks forward to the content and subsequent deliberations of the Resolution on Youth Work of the Council under the Belgium Presidency.
Besides youth work and policy, education, vocational training, mobility and transition into working life are elements of the promised EU 2020 flagship initiative Youth on the move we will try to look at in coming blog posts.