The Skill IT for Youth project is a European initiative aiming to increase the quality of youth work, combining higher levels of excellence and attractiveness in services, obtained through the digitalisation of youth work, with increased opportunities for young people. Through this project, the partners’ goal is to equip youth workers with digital tools and skills to enhance young people’s futures in the 21st Century. Skill IT for Youth is in line with the Erasmus+ goals and impact intended for strategic partnerships for youth, but also with the Digital Agenda for Europe, which stresses the need for more and more highly qualified young people for the digital economy, which is growing at seven times the rate of the rest of the economy (Digital Agenda for Europe, 2014).
The Skill IT for Youth project responds to the identified, pressing need for professionalising and enabling youth workers to support young people in developing their ICT, digital and social media skills, in order to enhance their employability, civic participation and well being (Expert group on ‘Risks, opportunities and implications of digitalisation for youth, youth work and youth policy’, 2016; Screenagers Report, 2016; Digital Scoreboard, 2017). Through this project, we enable youth organisations to improve the services provided to young people, by professionalising youth workers in using ICT, digital and social media. We believe that Digital Skills-based Youth Work can bring added value to the current face-to-face interactions youth workers have with young people; it can develop new activities in daily youth work to include technology, making the interactions more dynamic and a better fit for the new generation; it can bring digital content into the work (non-formal educational games, more interaction using social media channels, etc.); and, finally, it can help in developing online services for young people, that cannot be reached otherwise.
Through research-based knowledge of youth digital work, the labour market’s needs, and youth and youth workers’ needs; through a relevant competence framework for digital youth work practice; through innovative and attractive tools for developing an organisational environment that supports digitalisation and the delivery of attractive workshops for youth; and through valuable proposals for public policies that also support the digitalisation of the youth sector, all developed within the Skill IT for Youth project, youth organisations and youth workers will be better prepared to enhance young people’s employability, civic participation and wellbeing.
In addition, the professionalisation of youth workers in using ICT, digital and social media in their work and the support provided to youth organisations to develop digital strategies will contribute to: foster the inclusion and employability of young people, with a special focus on young people at risk; ease the transition of young people from youth to adulthood, in particular the integration into the labour market; reach out to marginalized young people; and open up youth work to cross-sectoral cooperation allowing greater synergies across all fields of youth-related action. At the same time, the project will contribute to the development of competences and quality standards for youth workers, and to the reinforcement of the links between policy, research and practice in the field of youth digital work.
The project also supports open and innovative practices in the digital era by developing and promoting innovative methods in youth work by developing learning materials and tools for both the organisations and the youth workers, and by supporting the effective use of ICT, digital and social media in youth work. The project will equip youth workers to use new learning materials in order to develop relevant and attractive workshops for young people using ICT, digital and social media; it will also provide an organisational guide, that will include a separate online training course, establish a supportive working environment for youth workers, in order to integrate ICT, digital and social media in their work; then, it will raise awareness and promote the importance of digital youth work through the competence framework that will be developed, and through the national and EU policies we will suggest for the sector.
The project will also aim to meet and address a number of priorities and objectives taken from a range of policies and programmes, besides Erasmus+ Programme: the Digital Agenda for Europe, the European Youth Strategy 2010-2018 – Investing and Empowering Youth (social inclusion, health and well-being, development of youth work, enhanced cross sectoral policy cooperation, participation, active citizenship), Europe 2020 (unemployment, social exclusion and mobility), the Youth Policy Agenda 2020 (human rights, employability, living together in diverse societies, social and economic inclusion of young people).