TC2: Developing key competences of youth workers for the promotion of youth involvement, active citizenship and social entrepreneurship
This TC looks into how youth work can contribute to the well-being and prosperity of society through an enhanced focus on entrepreneurial learning, fostering empowerment and initiative in young people.
Promoting youth entrepreneurship is one response to the challenges portrayed above.
The policy rationale for attaching high hopes to such efforts is that if young people can be empowered to take charge of their own lives and careers, and if they can change their attitude towards initiative and learn how to seize opportunities, this will contribute greatly towards improving the overall situation in the European labour markets (Curth, 2015). Enhancing such attributes in young people increases the likelihood of them breaking out of their existence outside the labour market, education and training.
Furthermore, if young people acquire these attributes, research indicates that they may stand a better chance of successful participation in society as active citizens and manage their lives in an increasingly complex world.
Consequently, the European Union and national governments have launched considerable efforts to pursue the objective of promoting entrepreneurship among young people, and initiatives to boost youth entrepreneurship are given a significant role in supporting the main goals of the Europe 2020 strategy for growths and jobs (European Commission, 2010). However, these initiatives have mainly focused on strengthening the capacity of formal education systems to provide pupils and students with entrepreneurial and innovative skills, attitudes and values (Curth, 2015). There is a growing realisation that entrepreneurial attitudes and values are often achieved outside the formal education system through youth work (including self-organised projects by young people). In addition, young people who do not participate in formal education are not able to profit from the programmes to strengthen entrepreneurship education.
Hence, efforts are currently directed at a better understanding of the entrepreneurial learning that takes place in non-formal and informal settings and identifying ways and methods to strengthen the impact of this learning on young peoples’ abilities to shape their own lives and careers.
In particular, the idea of stimulating the innovative capabilities of disadvantaged young people and NEETs signals a shift in the perception of this group, from a ‘passive’ target group in need of external help to overcome challenges, to a group that has the resources needed to shape their own fate (Eurofound, 2012, 2015).
In this sense, youth work presents itself as a promising opportunity for combining traditional approaches to the promotion of innovation and entrepreneurship with work targeting disadvantaged groups of young people and aiming at social activation and inclusion. In other words, youth work appears to offer untapped potentials for developing the resources of NEETs through activities conducted by youth workers in a supportive setting (Arnkil R., 2015).