Verke What is digital youth work? And what does Verke do?

In March 2020, the Ministry of Education and Culture established six youth work centres of expertise, each consisting of a group of several operators. The centres of expertise develop and promote competence, expertise and communications in the field of youth work in accordance with the Youth Act.

In 2020–2023, the Centre of Expertise for Digital Youth Work will comprise Verke, administered by the City of Helsinki, and Koordinaatti, administered by the City of Oulu. Verke is the administrator for the centre and is responsible for reporting to the Ministry of Education and Culture.

 “Digital youth work simply means using or addressing digital media and technology in youth work. It can be either a tool, activity or content in youth work. The primary goal of digital youth work is to support the agency of young people in a digitalised society.”

Goals

The core task of the centre of expertise is to increase educational expertise on digitalisation in the field of youth work and support the field in developing youth work services and activities utilising digital media and technology.

The National Youth Work and Youth Policy Programme specifies four objectives for the Centre of Expertise for Digital Youth Work. Implementation of the related measures is divided between Verke and Koordinaatti throughout the four-year term as follows:

  • Key measures:

    • implementing target group-specific training both online and in-person
    • developing cooperation with educational institutions
    • supporting work communities, including management, in developing digital youth work
    • implementing a European peer-learning project
    • producing publications, independent study materials and videos as well as other material promoting basic and advanced competence in digital youth work
    • highlighting digital youth work methods.

    Expected outcome:

    Digital youth work is planned, lead and implemented strategically and comprehensively. Digital aspects are an established part of youth work structures, practice and training. 

  • Key measures:

    • producing reports and studies on digital youth work
    • producing a qualitative impact evaluation of digital youth work
    • drafting competence criteria for digital youth work
    • supporting pre-emptive and future-oriented planning of youth work
    • sharing current research data on digital youth cultures and technological developments
    • supporting the use of open data in developing youth work.

     

    Expected outcome:

    Development of digital youth work is pre-emptive and based on research data and it reacts to changes in the operating environment. Varied data sets, analysed with aid from artificial intelligence, are utilised in developing the different sectors of youth work. 

  • Key actions:

    • promoting the development of innovative activities and services in digital youth work 
    • strengthening youth workers’ media education skills 
    • improving youth workers’ competence in preventing digital marginalisation among young people
    • supporting co-creation within the field, for example in online youth information services
    • developing cooperation with educational institutions.

    Expected outcome:

    The opportunities and risks related to the digital world are comprehensively understood in the youth field. Youth workers are media literate and media critical. The opportunities presented by the digital world for leisure time activities for young people are utilised in a versatile manner. Youth work is bridging the digital gap. 

  • Key actions:

    • producing information and materials on the phenomenon in networked cooperation
    • forming a clear situation picture on the scope and forms of the phenomenon by utilising existing data
    • clarifying the related terminology
    • developing operating methods and models to fight the phenomenon
    • maintaining and updating information on grooming on social media.

    Expected outcome:

    There is more cooperation and information exchange across sectoral borders. There is a shared, clear view on preventive methods and tools to combat grooming on social media. Collected, topical information is made available and utilised.

The targets and tasks are not uniform in scope, but they contain different types of measures in terms of approach and duration. Resources are allocated task-specifically so that 4/5 of the resources are allocated to Verke and 1/5 to Koordinaatti. In human resources this translates to seven person years for Verke and two for Koordinaatti.

 

In terms of targets 1–3, the core target groups of the operations of the centre of expertise are the following people working for municipalities, parishes and associations:

  • professionals implementing and developing youth work
  • directors in the youth work sector
  • other qualified personnel implementing and developing work directed at young people
  • youth work trainers and teachers.

Other target groups include civil servants and decision-makers. In terms of target 4, the core target group is the central government, and for certain measures the youth sector. 

The Centre of Expertise for Digital Youth Work contributes to the implementation of section 2 of the Youth Act as follows:

  • promotes the realisation of equality and parity from the viewpoint of digitalisation
  • highlights how digital media and technology can be utilised in supporting growth, independence and community among young people
  • emphasises the significance of digital competences for the social functional capacity of young people
  • co-develops with youth work actors new activities and ways of informal participation that utilise the opportunities presented by the digital world 
  • promotes independent activities and responsibility roles of young people in digital youth work
  • contributes to improving the growth and living conditions of young people by supporting the development of services that utilise technology and meet the changing needs of young people.

 

Verke's international activities

photo of a registration sheet hanging on the wall at the Somecamp EU event

Verke's international activities

Verke is highly networked in developing the European digital youth work field and is as an active actor in Erasmus+ for youth programme, especially strategic partnership projects. We are also giving consultation, keynote speeches and other forms of expert inputs in international settings. Please note, that within our mandate, we are mainly only able to engage with projects where the setting is actually international (ie. we cannot come and train mainly national actors), the request is within our digital youth work / youth field mandate, and we can reasonably see an added benefit for the Finnish youth field. All requests are considered on a case-by-case basis. Please contact Minna or Panu via e-mail on any international requests.

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