How does it work?

The use of technology in young people’s life is increasing; media seem to be a new educator, and innovation means rapid changes in the labour market - the jobs are not so stable, as before.

Technological, social and cultural changes have a great impact on young people. These changes also influence the education -– Its role has to change. But the formal education and educational institutions are stable. That is not the case with youth work and non-formal education, they are much more flexible. Youth work and non-formal learning can take place in many settings (youth clubs, schools, cafes, streets, parks) and does not necessary require professional facilities. Non-formal learning can be done by different providers (such as NGOs or municipal institutions) and use different methods. Non-formal learning can be a voluntary activity, where young people cooperate in a group – those are important motivation factors. Non-formal learning activities are structured learning situations which are designed, but not necessary for the purpose of learning (Kiilakoski, 2015). Non-formal learning can be: independent from formal learning, an alternative to formal learning (concentrating more on social skills, focusing on learner-centred activities) or complementary to formal learning (different outcomes, learned-centred and practice-based methods) (Siurala, 2012). The last two relations have an impact on formal education and non-formal learning institutions and are the focus areas in this publication. Regarding formal education institutions, the methods and pedagogical practices used are changing (e.g. work-based learning, social media). For non-formal learning institutions, this means formalisation and the need for assessment of learning outcomes.
Acquiring skills and competences through non-formal learning and its assessment can help young people to find suitable employment. Non-formal learning empowers young people to discover new pathways to employment and motivates young people to become actors of change – they take matters into their hands (Novosadova, 2015). A report mapping which skills the labour market finds most attractive, shows us the top four competencies: flexibility, understanding the business, the ability to create relationships and self-management (Ballisager, 2015). Through non-formal learning activities, such as our Non-formal academy of activities, young people acquire knowledge and develop skills, competences and attitudes that are demanded by the labour market. Interviews with employers confirm that soft-skills are seen as “a key element for successful job performance” and such skills as: team working, decision making and leadership skills, as well as personal drive, a sense of initiative taking and proactivity, confidence autonomy and entrepreneurship are among those most commonly mentioned (Souto-Otero, 2013).
In our method of Non-formal academy of activities we focused on: enhancing the quality and relevance of the learning offer in youth work by developing new and innovative approaches and supporting the dissemination of best practices; fostering the provision and the assessment of entrepreneurship, languages and digital skills; fostering the assessment of transversal skills and promoting the take-up of practical entrepreneurial experiences in youth work; enhancing ICT uptake in youth work and non-formal learning. The method is dedicated to developing basic and transversal skills, such as entrepreneurship, digital skills and multilingualism, but also creativity, group work skills, time management skills, and in the field of youth education – using innovative and learner-centred pedagogical approaches and appropriate assessment and certification methods based on learning outcomes.
The method of Non-formal academy of activities was tested and implemented within the “Catch it! Non-formal academy of activities” project. The project aimed at enhancing the quality and relevance of the non-formal learning offer in youth work of 3 project partnership organisations (Association Education by the Internet, Poland; Business Academy Aarhus, Denmark, and University of Aveiro, Portugal) by developing new and innovative approaches and supporting the dissemination of best practices.
Taking the above statements into consideration, there is a considerable need to assess skills, competences and attitudes developed through non-formal learning, as well as to present them and the carried out non-formal learning activities when preparing a CV, job application and during a job interview. Our method of non-formal learning, created within the project, is possible to be used and implemented at different NGOs, youth organisations, school, universities, companies, etc.

Kiilakoski Tomi (2015): Youth work and non-formal learning in Europe’s education landscape and the call for a shift in education, Youth work and non-formal learning in Europe’s education landscape, European Commission, pp. 26-38
Siurala Lasse (2012): History of European youth policies and questions for the future, Coussée F., Williamson H. and Verschelden G., The history of youth work in Europe. Relevance for today’s youth work policy, Volume 3, pp. 105-115
Novosadova Monika (2015): Empowering young people through non-formal learning activities: principles, methodological approaches and coaching, Youth work and non-formal learning in Europe’s education landscape, European Commission, pp. 151-168
Souto-Otero Manuel, Ulicna Daniela, Schaepkens Loraine, Bognar Viktoria (2013): Study on the Impact of Non-formal Education in Youth Organisations on Young People’s Employability, pp. 65-117.