The second part of day one was focused on exploring the realities for young people, youth work and youth work trainers and finally, what is needed to build a community of trainers.
The picture for young people
Yuliya introduced the session and the participants split into six groups to discuss what, based on their experience and interactions with young people, they believe to be the key topics and concerns faced by young people in Europe today.
The groups identified a number of key issues which as a community of trainer they believe that young people are facing and cross referenced them using a graph to to see which were the most commonly mentioned. The topics and concerns identified were…
- uncertainty, anxiety and lack of hope
- social media
- lack of social skills
- lack of self confidence
- education vs aspirations
After the participants had fed back there was a discussion about the topics and concerns being based on the assumptions of the people in the room. The participants were then asked to carry out online research to identify studies which had been carried out on the topic. Some of the participants also agreed to directly consult with young people they may be working with to check the list of topics and concerns, and shared their findings in Google Drive for use later in the programme.
But what about youth work and youth trainers?
Next the group moved to consider what reality looks like for youth work and youth trainers and the topics and issues being faced by them. The participants were split into three large groups and Buzz introduced the Goldfish Bowl technique. Each group formed a circle of chairs with three chairs in the middle. Three of the group sat in the middle and had a discussion about the topics and concerns of youth work and youth trainers while the rest of the group would take notes and, when they wanted to, swap into one of the seats in the conversation.
Following this exercise the groups came back together to share the findings of their conversations, with a number of themes emerging…
- Recognition – overall the participants felt that sometimes youth work and youth training as a professional was not properly recognised. This leads to unfair salaries which can vary from country to country. Sometimes people do not take the profession seriously or are cynical about it due to a lack of understanding about what exactly youth work is. It was also mentioned that trainers in the business field are using the same or similar methodologies but are being recognised much more easily and having a higher value placed on their expertise.
- Impact – the participants discussed the difficulty in tracking long term impact on participants who have taken part in international activity. Due to the short term nature of international projects and the unlikelihood that the trainer will meet the participant again, this was identified as a particular challenge. Some participants said that they were actively moving towards working at a local or national level so that they could more clearly see the impact. It was noted that there is research carried out on Erasmus+ projects to measure impact and that there is a general belief that there is impact from international work – maybe a need to put more trust in our collective efforts.
- Target group – some of the participants talked about the need to ensure a diverse target group. Sometimes focus is put specifically on disadvantaged young people but maybe youth work should be universal. Additionally, the need to have mixed groups of young people from different backgrounds should be considered rather than specialising in working with just one kind of young people. The rewards from having mixed group and the ability to work with diverse young people would be high.
- Values and beliefs – from the start of the path to becoming a youth worker or youth trainer it is instilled to not bring your personal beliefs into the conversation however it was felt that sometimes this is holding us back. The group felt that a more assertive approach to challenge what we don’t agree with could be needed. There was also a feeling that sometimes it is impossible to focus on your own values as a result of funders or government priorities being different. Additionally, there was a question over whether
- National/international disconnect – some participants felt that there was a disconnect between the communities of youth work and youth trainers at a national and international level, with people taking part in either national or international activity but not both. It is easier to feel European is you are taking part in international activity.
Building the community
During the final session of the day the group took part in a World Cafe activity considering a series of questions related to building the community of youth work trainers. There were five discussions taking place during the session which were…
- Us and young people – the participants revisited the topics and concerns which had been discussed earlier in the day and the results of the research and consultation with young people.
- Me as a trainer – another group started to build a picture of what they path to becoming a trainer looked like, this will be turned into an infographic in the future.
- Impact of the work – following on from the previous session some participants began to explore the impact of the youth work and youth trainings.
- Great things about the community – sharing the good things about being part of the youth work and youth trainer community.
- Me and the guild – some participants discussed what membership of the Guild meant for them and what the benefits might be.
Following the World Cafe groups the participants came back together to share the outcomes of their discussion, some of which will continue in the informal spaces around the seminar.
Return to the blog soon to follow the next step in the Youth Trainers Reboot journey.