The Portfolio is a tool for assessing youth work competence and for planning how to develop it. This process is very important, because youth workers are bound to be life-long learners and youth work itself is a field constantly under development. The key questions the Portfolio wants to support you to answer are:

When you think about the youth work you are involved in, what do you do and what do you need to be able to do it well? What does it take to be a competent youth worker?

Competence is a key concept for understanding the tool.

Competence is the “ability to do something successfully or efficiently”. The term is often used interchangeably with the term ‘skill’, although they are not the same. Two elements differentiate competence from skill, and make competence more than skill. When one person is competent, they can apply what they know to do a specific task or solve a problem and they are able to transfer this ability between different situations.

In youth work, competence is understood as having three interlinked dimensions:

Knowledge: This dimension refers to all the themes and issues you know or need to know about to do your work. This is the ‘cognitive’ dimension of competence. It is commonly associated with the ‘head’.

Skills: This dimension refers to what you are able to do or what you need to be able to do to do your youth work. This is the ‘practical’ or skills dimension of competence. It is commonly associated with the ‘hands’.

Attitudes and values:  This dimension of competence refers to the attitudes and values you need to espouse in order to do your work effectively. This dimension of competence is commonly associated with the ‘heart’.

Using this Portfolio will engage you to look into your head, at your hands and into your heart, and to document what you think you need to learn or work on to deliver a good quality youth work experience to the young people you work with.

Think box!

When you think about your own work, that of your team or your organisation,what do you associate with the head, hands and heart? Ask yourself the following questions and use the picture to document the answers:

  • What should people doing youth work know?
  • What should people doing youth work be able to do?
  • What attitudes and values should people doing youth work have?
  • What do you bring with you to your youth work, that makes you competent?

The Portfolio competence framework

The Portfolio looks at those things which youth work usually or most commonly does. We call these functions of youth work.

From these functions of youth work, the Portfolio tries to understand better what youth workers should be able to do, in other words, the competences youth workers need to have in order to do youth work.

The competences that one needs to have in order to do youth work have been divided into two categories:

  • Specific youth work competences – competences that make this field of activity unique
  • More general competences – competences relevant for other fields of activity but which are usually important for youth work

Together the identified functions and competences make up what we call the Portfolio competence framework.

The list of functions and competences presented in the framework is by no means exhaustive. You may find that some competences are not relevant for the work you do or may want to add other very important competences you need for the youth work you do.

Start using the Portfolio in order to see how to apply this framework to your practice!

The Council of Europe Youth Work Portfolio is a tool to help those doing youth work, primarily youth workers and youth leaders, but also managers and administrators, to assess and further develop their youth work competence and that of the people under their supervision.

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