580 of 1,000 signatures

To the National Agencies of Erasmus+ and European Solidarity Corps To the Network of SALTO-YOUTH Resource Centres To the European Commission, Directorate-General for Education, Youth, Sport and Culture To the Council of Europe, Youth Department To international youth work and training organisations To international youth work trainers community To national youth structures

This petition is run by International Youth Work Trainers Guild

Petition text

We, the International Youth Work Trainers Guild, call for continued support for international youth work training, as well as recognition of online learning as a valid form of youth work training, while not as a replacement of residential, face-to-face work. Education, including non-formal and intercultural learning, remains an important priority for Europe and it needs to be ensured by all the actors involved. 

The Covid-19 pandemic has created an unprecedented situation globally and as such the European youth work training field is also feeling the consequences. With the spread of the virus, national governments have applied various degrees of measures to protect citizens, health systems and their economies.

Restrictions on physical meetings and traveling have directly impacted the international youth work training field. European level youth work mobility activities have been cancelled or postponed. Given the possibility of repeated virus outbreaks in the near future, there is no guarantee as to when travelling for the purpose of learning mobility will again take place regularly. This has not left a lot of alternatives for youth work training until face to face meetings will be possible again. However, the IYWT Guild wants to highlight that residential youth work training activities should stay in the core of international youth work when the conditions once again allow for it. 

In the meantime, as a response to consequences of COVID-19 pandemic, IYWT Guild, on behalf of its members, experts in the youth work training field, and youth work organisations, calls on stakeholders in the European youth work and training field to more concretely restructure training and support services for the international youth work by: (the following measures are numbered to support ease of referencing but do not imply any hierarchy)

  1. Recognising online and blended training and support services as beneficial and valid formats for learners personal growth and youth workers professional development and allocating necessary and sufficient resources to ensure quality of such opportunities.
  2. Including and more openly supporting online and blended learning, virtual exchanges, and digital tools and platforms, in order to continue the efforts of international youth work and international youth work training in positively impacting the lives of young people across Europe. 
  3. Creating opportunities for the development and improvement of digital competences of trainers, in order to ensure that all trainers that are willing to facilitate online learning, have an opportunity to do so. 
  4. Providing future resources and objectives to include online training and learning activities as additional formats to develop the capacity of international youth work to deliver quality services to young people, especially those with fewer opportunities, and working on bypassing its limits in terms of inclusivity and outreach.
  5. Continuing to contract trainers and training organisations to design, deliver and evaluate international youth work training activities using opportunities of online technology.
  6. Revising contractual practices with trainers, to guarantee that contracts are flexible as these times demand, but also fair towards trainers, ensuring that they don't carry, single handedly, the risks of cancellation.
  7. Repurposing approved budgets and resources flexibly and creatively allowing teams, organisers and participants to experiment, experience, learn and grow professionally.
  8. Re-allocating budgets for travel, board and accommodation to support online and blended initiatives and the continuance of international youth work and international youth work training, in particular during the Covid-19 period.
  9. Providing budget lines in the funding streams for creating innovative and long lasting digital content, tools, publications, toolkits, research and other activities that will remain useful beyond the Covid-19 times.
  10. Involving trainers, youth work and training organisations in decision making and co-creation of plans and concepts on how to adapt the planned international youth work training activities to current needs and realities of youth work in Europe.
  11. The Guild also calls for the institutions and international funding bodies to reconsider their relationship with trainers and training organisations and see them more as partners rather than purely as service providers.

Why is this important?

The above proposals are developed by taking into account important societal changes in general and specific considerations of responses to Covid-19 impact. Schools, higher education, VET sector, large scale NGOs, companies and public institutions have continued working and delivering their services using remote work and online activities keeping workers paid. The same cannot be fully said for the youth sector.

Different sectors have realised that remote work and online learning is not easily carried out on a large scale. At the same time, this immense adjustment that was required has clearly shown that new opportunities to experiment, learn, grow will help us come out of this crisis stronger and more enriched than ever before.

The European Commission took unprecedented decisions to allow Erasmus+ project carriers to apply flexible rules in replacing residential activities where possible with online activities without losing the budget for implementing them.

The youth work sector, in general, has been challenged to replace their in person services with delivering their work almost entirely online, using diverse digital tools, content and activities. This has been done rapidly and in a short period of time. Quality and sustainability of digital youth work and online and blended training should be maintained in the long-term period with sufficient resources.

Much of the international youth work trainers community is capable of responding professionally to the challenges posed by Covid-19 and offer training, mentoring and coaching services to the youth work field. The international youth work trainers community is able to create and facilitate quality training programmes for youth workers, youth work organisations and institutions using vast opportunities of online and blended learning and service delivery. This is reflected in the considerable amount of voluntary/unpaid work that has already been invested in creating alternatives for face to face activities, as well as in solidarity and peer support that have been demonstrated within the field in order to empower colleagues that do not feel as ready to facilitate learning online. 

The roles and responsibilities of trainers have grown in recent years, and specifically in the last months as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Trainers have been responsible for creating new formats, approaches and outreach proposals for the international youth sector. However, the role of trainer has remained barely recognised in mobility funding and implementation procedures.

As those who are predominantly leading the international youth sector in this current crisis, this call for trainers to be recognised as partners in mutual support and dialogue for creating the way forward for international youth work and training is of the highest urgency

We can support the development of capacity building programmes in online and blended youth work and learning for youth workers, trainers, volunteers, etc. who guide, coach, encourage young people, build their self-confidence for engaging in and with their communities in these difficult times, as well as seeking for the betterment of their lives as they face economic difficulties.

Many trainers have the necessary competences to create high quality media content, provide digital facilitation, harvesting and recording services, and collaborate with digital creatives. The trainers community is ready to support colleagues, organisations, institutions and other stakeholders in the youth work sector in adapting and capacity building to deal with the current crisis.

The international youth work trainers community is ready to continue acting on the Covid-19 consequences in partnership with all relevant stakeholders and continue international youth work training, while anticipating the resumption of face to face meeting as soon as possible.

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