Working with young people: The value of youth work in the European Union

Allison Dunne, Daniela Ulicna, Ilona Murphy, Maria Golubeva

The history of providing youth work for young people varies depending on the Member State, but youth work is not a new concept in the EU and the landscape of youth work continues to evolve. Although youth work has greater recognition and visibility today in comparison to the past, there is still much to be done as there is a need to recognise youth work for the contribution and value it has in the lives of young people. In consideration of the fact that sources of data on youth work are currently scarce, this study strives to bring together existing evidence in order to facilitate the understanding and appreciation of youth work. It draws on literature in the area, a mapping of national contexts, consultation amongst stakeholders and an analysis of successful practice. The latter was conducted during the course of the study in order to gain a deeper understanding of youth work in the EU and the contribution that it makes for young people of the EU. The report highlights the diversity of youth work practice, the variety of actors involved, the observable trends in the sector, features of successful youth work and the range of outcomes associated with that success. Furthermore, it presents a comparative overview of the frameworks which support youth work at the national level across the EU. Whilst youth work practice will take place regardless of whether countries provide a policy framework of support for the sector or not, EU and national level policies and funding provisions have the potential to frame and shape the practice of youth work. These should be designed so as to further strengthen the capacity of the sector to provide meaningful activities for young people in their leisure time that lead to identifiable successful outcomes for youth in the EU.


Dunne, A., Ulicna, D., Murphy, I. & Golubeva, M. (2014). Working with young people: The value of youth work in the European Union. Luxembourg. European Commission – Directorate General Education and Culture (DG EAC).

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