In Erasmus+ Programme the Youth Exchanges and the youth workers’ trainings and networking events are considered Mobilities. Mobility in the field of youth provides many opportunities for young people to acquire competences and grow as individuals, through non-formal and informal learning.
Non-formal learning refers to the learning which takes place outside formal educational curriculum. It has a participative and learner-centered approach; it is carried out by learners on a voluntary basis and therefore is closely linked to young people’s needs, aspirations and interests. By providing an additional source and new forms of learning, such activities are also important means to improve the attainment in formal education and training as well as to address young NEETs (i.e. young people not in employment, education or training) or young people with fewer opportunities and combat social exclusion.
Informal learning refers to the learning in daily life activities, in work, with peers, etc. It is mainly learning by doing. In the youth sector, informal learning can take place in youth initiatives, in peer group discussions, through voluntary activities and in a variety of other situations.
Non-formal and informal learning enable young people to acquire essential competences that contribute to their personal and socio-educational development and foster their active participation in society, thereby improving their employment prospects. Learning activities within the youth field are meant to have a significantly positive impact on young people as well as on the organizations involved, the communities in which these activities take place, the youth field itself and the European economic and societal sectors at large.
A high-quality non-formal and informal learning dimension is a key aspect of all youth projects supported under the Erasmus+ Programme. Youth projects funded by the Erasmus+ Programme must adhere to the following non-formal and informal learning principles:
The activities must also be planned in advance and be based on participatory methods that:
Finally, the activities should have an intercultural/European dimension and:
“Youth work” is defined as activities that intentionally seek to impact young people. This is primarily a set of loosely affiliated activities that have been defined, redefined, examined, and reinvented in subsequent generations. (Smith, M. (2001) Definition, tradition and change in youth work Encyclopedia of Informal Education.)
A youth worker is a professional or a volunteer involved in non-formal learning who supports young people in their personal socio-educational and professional development.