Youth information services aim to support and empower young people with full and reliable information on their rights and options to address their needs, interests and well-being. In most European countries, youth information and counselling is recognized as a part of youth work.
Youth information workers deliver reliable, accurate and understandable information to young people. They ensure that information services are accessible, resourced and welcoming, understand and address young people’s needs, and guide young people to act autonomously and think critically. These services also have a remarkable preventive function that constitutes a great benefit to society. Youth information activities across the EU encompass a wide range of services and activities, such as informing, counselling, supporting, coaching, training, peer-to-peer, networking, or referral to specialised services. The services can be set in different frameworks and provided by very diverse actors, in various settings and run through online and/or face-to-face outreach activities aimed at both individual and group users.
YIW covers a range of topics that reflect the breadth and diversity of experiences and needs of young people. Workers must cater to the changing information needs of young people, find innovative ways to respond to new social problems, uncover the societal causes of problems facing young people, provide a comprehensive range of information for young people entering a complex society, and help them deal with information overload.
Modes of delivery
The delivery of youth information is a central function of youth work and shares its key values: it aims to be open to all young people and to act in their interest by covering issues that matter for them and by providing a large spectrum of activities (informing, counselling, advising, supporting, coaching and training, networking, and referral to specialised services). Information is provided for young people through various channels and methods, such as peer-to-peer groups and social media.
The goal of youth information and counselling is to improve young people’s chances of being heard, participating and becoming involved in the management of both their personal lives and different social concerns. This can be achieved, for example, through youth information and counselling, but also through various web-based e-democracy tools.
The Recommendation by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe emphasises that “the provision of face-to-face information, guidance and counselling is even more important today than for previous generations, due to the fact that social inclusion of young people is now a lengthier and more complex process”.
Young people’s questions are often related to the entire situation the young person finds him/herself in. Sometimes it is not easy for young people to identify what kind of information they are looking for. Youth information and counselling provides help for all questions related to the young person’s life.
Typically, young people’s questions relate to housing, employment, studies, travelling, working abroad, courses, exchange study options and EU funding possibilities, health, relationships, rights and leisure activities.
Youth Information worker
Youth information workers, or other professionals delivering youth information, deliver youth information services to young people in a variety of settings/environments in order to support their well-being. They ensure that information services are accessible, resourced and welcoming for young people and run online and/or face-to-face outreach activities aimed at both individual and group users. Youth information workers aim to enable young people to make their own informed choices and become autonomous and active citizens.
Youth information workers aim to:
- provide reliable, unbiased, accurate and youth-friendly information;
- facilitate access to different sources and channels of information;
- give an overview of options available on topics relevant to young people;
- help young people to navigate the information overload of modern-day society;
- ensure that young people know their rights, services available and how to access them;
- support young people in evaluating the available information and its quality;
- guide young people to find the best options available to them and make their own decisions;
- offer different channels of communication and dialogue to directly support young people in their search for information and knowledge; and
- contribute to the media and information literacy of young people.
Youth Information worker competences
The Youth Information Worker Competence Framework (YouthInfoComp) is a flexible reference
framework to support the development and understanding of youth information worker (YI worker)
competences in any setting. YouthInfoComp comprises 12 competences (C1 – C12 in the table below) grouped in three key areas: "Supporting and Engaging Young People", "Quality Service" and "Communication and Outreach".
Each competence has a specific title and description which explains the value and application of this competence to Youth Information work. The framework describes the minimum set of competences required for
YI workers to fulfil their duties professionally. Find out more about the YouthInfoComp via the link below.