What are the current trends in society? How do these trends influence and can be influenced by youth work? How ready are we to zoom out and recognise these larger trends? These were the questions we discussed at our second #EAYW webinar “Recognising larger trends, seeing interconnections with youth work”.

We kicked off the webinar with some optional well-being activities. Around fifty participants decided to join this introductory part of the webinar and had the opportunity to relax, energise and stretch and to experience some embodiment techniques, which were led by embodiment trainer Sandra Gojić. Some participants commented that it was a nice start of the day and that it was refreshing and calming to have these activities.

We then started with the topic of recognising larger trends with almost one hundred participants. Our facilitators opened the topic by asking some questions related to trends and youth work that provided participants with food for thought: How does youth work relate to other social elements and group processes? What about trends? What is moving in the field? What has an impact on youth work? How do you see youth work responding?

Afterwards, we have had the opportunity to listen to a presentation by Dr. Peter Merry (Chief Innovation Officer, Ubiquity University) focusing on the dynamics created by larger trends and related learning needs. Peter explained that we were living in a hyper-complex world (characterised by trends such as forest loss, water loss, investment, digitalisation etc.) and that our education systems had not prepared us for the changes happening right now. For us, and also for the youth work sector, it was important to scan the horizons for patterns that were shaping the future and to afterwards do something about these patterns (as Peter said “we need to play with scenarios”).

Peter also noted that throughout history, we had been living in alternating phases of stability and chaos – currently, we were in a situation where chaos was predominant, and we were faced with an increase of complexity and speed of change. As the speed of change increased exponentially and we could not foresee the future, we needed to have a mind-set and use our senses to focus on the future and needs, instead of using our rational mind that was mainly drawing from the past.

Graphic recording by Mireille van Bremen

Tomorrow belongs to those who can hear it coming

In the second part of his input, Peter shared his view about the education system and its need to be adapted to the world of the future. This means that we should think more about different aspects of learning, learning styles and skills. He stated that the education and training fields needed changing, as they should be focusing on how to create learning opportunities fitting people’s individual competencies, ways of learning and pathways. In that sense, we should focus more on coaching, not teaching.

Furthermore, he shared the example of Ubiquity University to show how to make the learning experience most effective at equipping people for these challenging times. When they set up support systems, they were lead by some important findings, including Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences and UNESCO Competences for Sustainability, which include system thinking, anticipatory, non formative, strategic, cooperation, self awareness, integrated problem-solving competency and critical thinking. For him, in order to make learning the most effective, youth workers should follow the next rules: 1) engage the whole person; 2) personalise and modularise; 3) provide relevant learning content; and 4) make it fun and engaging. In the end, it was important to create personalised pathways for each learner. Also, it was important to focus on needs and try to foresee the trends.

Learning trends are at the heart of non-formal learning and youth work

Following the input and example presented, participants were divided in small discussion groups, where they discussed if they recognised the trends and how they were seeing youth work moving forward and responding to these trends.

All participants agreed that they recognised the trends presented before and that youth work should respond by using different methodologies, practices and activities. It was emphasised that we should focus on the talents, values and strengths that young people have and combine them with different fields of actions that they are passionate about. Furthermore, knowledge about embodiment, mindfulness and sustainability were mentioned as important. Some participants mentioned the need to create long-term quality training courses both for young people and young colleagues in the youth work field.

One of the conclusions was connected with the nature of learning in youth work, where one of the groups concluded that “the trends regarding learning have been at the heart of non-formal education for decades (e.g. experiential learning)”. Furthermore, the discussions showed that mindset is important, resources are limited and organisations should become more future fit.

If you would like to have a look at Dr. Peter Merry’s presentation, you can access it on this link.

What next?

The second EAYW webinar provided participants with important insights and knowledge related to trends. The lively discussions showed that this is an important topic for the whole community of practice.

In order to support the youth work community of practice, our webinar series ​​Learning as a Field in Times of Disruption and Change is continuing in 2022, with the next topic dealing with rethinking innovation. The next webinar will be held on January 27, 2022.

Registrations will be opened in the next days. Be sure to follow us here to find out more about the content and how to register!

You’re still interested in the first two webinars? The recordings will be published here shortly!