The purpose of youth information and counselling services is to provide young people with information, counselling and advice concerning different issues in young people’s lives. The objective is to support young people's independence and sense of responsibility and enable them to cope with life independently. Reliable and comprehensive information provided by professionals enables young people to make choices and decisions that support their own coping strategies.
In most European countries, youth information and counselling is recognised as a part of youth work. The objective of the services is to allow young people access to extensive and comprehensive information through a one-stop-shop.
Depending on their capabilities and requirements, young people may search for information independently in brochures, guides, databases, on the internet or from other available information sources. Many youth information centres also provide the possibility of a one-to-one consultation, either face-to-face or by phone.
Youth information and counselling may help young people achieve their targets both in and outside work or studies, promoting young people’s active participation in society as responsible citizens. Youth information and counselling should also broaden young people’s horizons and promote their autonomy and mobility.
All guidance and counselling, whether it takes place online or face-to-face, should be based on the educational targets set for youth information and counselling, so as to provide young people support and guarantee them equal opportunities. The objectives of youth information and counselling services are young people’s educational guidance and the strengthening of their social identity. The services also aim at supporting young people’s growth towards independence and active participation.
Website of Nappi Youth Information and Advice Centre, www.nettinappi.fi
Hoikkala, Tommi & Sell, Anna (eds.). Nuorisotyötä on tehtävä. Menetelmien perustat, rajat ja mahdollisuudet. (Youth Work Must be Done. The bases, limits and possibilities of methods.) p. 415
Inclusion in the information society is becoming increasingly important. The development of electronic networks creates new opportunities for youth information and counselling services, democracy education and young people’s involvement in society. It also enables the consultation of young people in matters that concern them. This corresponds with increasing expectations and skills requirements for those who work in web-based youth services. Even if young people are actively using the internet, they hold a face-to-face meeting in high regard. Locally based services are still in demand and require further development efforts as municipalities merge and their functions are re-evaluated.
Modes of delivery
Youth information and counselling provides personal guidance, counselling and support to young people through face-to-face services or online services and other environments. Information is provided for young people through various channels and methods, such as peer-to-peer groups and social media.
Over the last few years, the tools and channels of web-based youth information and counselling services have become more diverse. Websites are now complemented by the new opportunities presented by social media, creating a diversifying matrix of services and organisations. An example of real-time information and counselling services is a one-to-one chat service between the client and the youth information and counselling worker. Chat functions are provided with most web-based youth information and counselling services.
The goal of youth information and counselling is to improve young people’s chances of being heard, participating and becoming involved in the management of both their personal lives and different social concerns. This can be achieved, for example, through youth information and counselling, but also through various web-based e-democracy tools.
The Recommendation by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe emphasises that “the provision of face-to-face information, guidance and counselling is even more important today than for previous generations, due to the fact that social inclusion of young people is now a lengthier and more complex process”.
Young people’s questions are often related to the entire situation the young person finds him/herself in. Sometimes it is not easy for young people to identify what kind of information they are looking for. Youth information and counselling provides help for all questions related to the young person’s life.
Typically, young people’s questions relate to housing, employment, studies, travelling, working abroad, courses, exchange study options and EU funding possibilities, health, relationships, rights and leisure activities.