During the first months when most of the European countries applied lockdown measures, no international mobility was possible. There were no clear guidelines in the international youth work field if and how organisers can transform funded residential training activities into online training activities, should the partners agree for such a solution.
At the end of April, the Guild of Trainers launched consultations with trainers about the call for a response to Covid-19 impact on international youth work mobility. Close to 50 training experts from more than 30 countries expressed their concerns, needs and proposals in response to the impact on our field. More than 550 people expressed support for our campaign for this call.
In the mid-May, we sent out the call to all the National Agencies administering Erasmus+ and the European Solidarity Corps programmes, SALTO-YOUTH Resource Centres, European Commission, DG for Education, Youth, Sport and Culture, the EU-CoE Partnership, various structures within the Council of Europe’s Youth Department.
Through the call, we invited institutions to be open, transparent and participatory when making decisions regarding the best possible measures to respond to Covid-19 impact. We, being experts in the training field, feel a need and have a wish to participate, bringing our contribution during these challenging times.
Although a number of National Agencies started to implement successful online training activities, the international Youth Work Mobility funded by the Erasmus+ and the European Solidarity Corps Programmes remains largely in lockdown and are mostly postponed. Some of the partnerships took decisions on transforming funded residential activities into online training opportunities. Till 16th of June 2020, this option was available without any restrictions, applying maximum flexibility and trusting project managers that they would implement most suitable and quality solutions. However, on 16th of June, National Agencies received new guidelines from the European Commission’s DG EAC to apply restricted funding rules in the case of online training activities.
Project managers of the Erasmus+ KA1 mobility of youth workers can spend maximum up to 35% of the budget allocated for individual support of learners. While in the case of staff training included in the KA2 Strategic partnership projects this amount can be up to 15%. Such decisions generated a vivid reaction on social media from some of the training experts active both in delivering residential training activities and online learning and training opportunities. What these numbers imply is that the work of trainers online is much less valued than in residential activities, while in reality the effort and competences needed for preparation and facilitation of online learning opportunities are the same if not bigger, due to the adjustments needed.
It is felt that stakeholders having the power of decision disregarded some trainer voices from the field who were and remain ready to create and implement quality training and support offers online.
Response from stakeholders
So far, we have received only 2 responses to our call for action. Ms Floor van Houdt, the Head of Unit for Youth, Volunteer Solidarity and Traineeships Office thanked for reaching out to them, acknowledged the efforts of youth organisations, youth workers and youth civil society to address the needs of young people and keep supporting their communities. Furthermore, the Head of Unit confirmed that since early March they have taken the necessary measures to help the beneficiaries of on-going projects.
Four measures were mentioned explicitly:
- A special page of the Erasmus+ website that focuses on concrete steps of responding to the impact.
- National Agencies who are in permanent contact with the beneficiaries to help them throughout the crisis.
- The EU Youth Strategy Platform as an online collaboration space for exchanging on the impact of the crisis. The first consultations in the form of webinars have started. We answered to the personal invitation to join the next consultation meeting and testify with trainer experiences, needs and proposals.
- The upcoming Digital Education Action Plan which will offer an ambitious vision for learning in the digital age including through non-formal methods. Public consultation has been launched on the new Digital Education Action Plan.
More recently, we received an invitation from Ms Fabienne Metayer, the Head of Sector for Youth Policy at the European Commission Directorate-General Education, Youth, Sport and Culture Youth, Volunteer Solidarity and Traineeships Office Unit to join the 2nd webinar in the frame of our EU Youth Strategy stakeholders platform to discuss the impact of the Covid-19 crisis on the youth work sector.
We will join this consultation on the 8th of July to give testimony about the concrete consequences for international youth work mobility.
The 2nd live session on the EU Youth Strategy platform around COVID-19: “Responding to the impact of COVID-19 on youth work” will happen on 8 July from 10:30 CET (for the duration of 1,5 hours). If you would like to join the meeting, you can follow this link.
In the meantime, members of our association took several actions in order to respond to COVID-19 impact on international youth work mobility.
Participation in the MOVE IT online event
Finding ways to make stakeholders of international youth work mobility aware of our call, we chose to participate in the MOVE IT online event which focused on youth mobility in the digital era. Around 150 participants took part in various online activities of this online event.
During this event, we hosted an online BarCamp session focused on our call to respond to COVID-19 impact on youth work mobility. Around 30 participants joined to reflect and share what short-term and long-term actions we can take in order to continue supporting and training in the international youth work field.
Here you can see the summary of the outcomes:
On 15 June 2020, our members attended the MOVE IT Digital Youth Mobility Lab which focused on the trends and inspiration for EU youth programmes and mobility in a digital era. This lab had an aim to share on the status quo and what could be developed further in Europe.
Ms Floor VAN HOUDT, Head of Unit Youth, Volunteer Solidarity and Traineeships Office, DG EAC, European Commission, hosted one of the breakout rooms where we had opportunities to directly voice needs, concerns and proposals based on our call to action. Later, Floor VAN HOUDT was sharing the results of discussions in the plenary room of this online meeting. Staff members of participating National Agencies of the Erasmus+ and the European Solidarity Corps Programmes hosted other discussion groups and heard concrete suggestions voiced by members of the Guild of Trainers, trainers and youth workers.
Collecting experiences and reflections of trainers delivering online training and support
In our call to action, we identified that online training and support activities are a rather new format in the international youth work mobility for many colleagues and youth work organisations. We decided to capture new practices and learning to share with other trainers, organisations and institutions willing to ensure that online training and support is delivered on a desired level of quality. Our members shared their experiences and you can read trainer stories about making online training a reality (part 1, part 2, ….).
We understand that online training and support measures are necessary during the current times when there are restrictions for travelling in place and hosting residential activities is simply not possible. In the future, we see that more blended training combining online and residential activities should be offered in the international youth work field.
Self-help online group for trainers to develop digital competences
Through consultations with training experts, we heard that some of the trainer colleagues were not necessarily ready or feeling competent to deliver online training and support services. Also, trainers who feel competent and ready, by entering into a full experience of online training need the support of colleagues to reflect and make sense of this new experience.
We launched the self-help online group for trainers to support each other in developing digital competences. Members meet monthly to exchange experiences, share challenges and success, reflect on our practices and look for solutions. You can join us and grow your trainer competences together.
Digital competence added to Appraiser platform for trainers professional development
Realising that currently, trainers can and work a lot online, we reached out to SALTO Training and Cooperation Resource Centre asking for the addition of digital competence to the ETS competence model for trainers. They gladly agreed to share the content of the digital competence area with us, which is yet to be defined either as transversal competence or as stand-alone competence area in the model.
For better usability, we decided to add it as an additional competence area to the Appraiser platform.
How can you use the Appraiser platform as a trainer?
- you can make a self-assessment of your trainer competences, including your digital competence
- you can add training activities, including the ones delivered online to be ready to ask feedback
- ask feedback from your participants, trainer colleagues and contractors on how you performed as a trainer, including your training and facilitation work online.
- analyse feedback results and compare with your self-assessment to identify areas of your strength and needs for further development
- plan and monitor your professional development, including competencies for online training and support
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org, should you have any questions on how to use Appraiser platform.
Cover photo: Delayed by Jordiet on Flickr