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International Youth Work Eduation and Training

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Alexander Arabkin

24 January 2015

Reality of Youth work in Estonia.

by
Alexander Arabkin youth worker

 

Detached youth work is quite new way of work with young people for the Estonian reality, but we can be proud and happy that now from february 2015 in Tallinn it will be runned by the sport and youth department. 
Interesting fact is that the society don't really know much about youth work in Estonia. Though a lot of projects and events are happening in this field, people mostly doesn't link it with the youth work. It could be said that the term "youth work" is not in the consciousness of the society. Usually people think that youth work is the synonym for social work . Quite often youth workers challenge the lack of knowledge about their profession.

The main stereotypes about youth workers ( in youth centers) is that they are playing games with young people. Leisure activity considered to be the main youth work activity by those who at least knows about the existence of youth workers. This stereotype is totally wrong. Leisure activity is only a small part of youth work and even in that case games are mostly used as a method for a bigger aim.

The impact of youth work to the society shouldn't be underestimated. This impact hard to count with numbers because values and social skills are not something that can be counted within several years. Of Course there is statistical data that shows inclusion of young people in different activities out of school and amount of young people who are out of the labour market, and numbers of people going out of the country, but it is practically impossible to measure the roll of youth work in preventing issues of young people or developing values. I would say that the impact is huge!

Another challenge that youth workers have is their personal attitude towards youth work. Hardly ever I meet youth workers who can proudly say "I am a youth worker! My job is important for the society and this is not my mistake that I have low salary." quite often youth workers doesn't feel to be valued. It would be honest to say that we have event when the best youth workers of the year receive the rewards for their achievements. But this is the drop in the ocean. The are a lot of workers whose everyday work is not less important but stays invisible for the majority.

Positive sides of the youth work reality in estonia

2013 the big textbook named "Youth Work Textbook" appeared both in russian and english. 300 pages about terms, policy, history of youth work in Estonia, and direction of youth work.This is definitely big step forward.
We have a good Estonian youth work strategy 2014-2020.
Youth work as a profession that you can study in university exist about 20 years. We have about 200 youth centres across Estonia which means that majority of municipalities has their own youth centres.

In the end I want say that there is a good theoretical base and a lot of good practices that are already working (for example detached youth work). I believe that youth workers have to raise attention of the society to the youth work themselves. How? By being proud of what they do and speaking about that in every corner. By educating people around them. By constant development of their own skills as a professionals. 
I have a big hope in future of youth work in Estonia! 


 

You can find useful documents here:
http://www.entk.ee/dokumendid

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