A lot of research is available on the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on young people, a bit less on those working with them. Eurodesk Brussels Link carried out an online survey to collect data on the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on the Eurodesk network. 90 respondents from 18 countries shared their realities with us.
The survey shows that in 2020, Eurodesk youth information centres were closed 17 weeks on average. Technical problems and the lack of equipment was a major issue, as many were not equipped to move to the virtual environment when the crisis happened. Organisations also lacked the human competences to support this digital transition. At the same time, only 11% received financial support from funds allocated to tackle the COVID-19 socio-economic impact.
The sanitary crisis had negative consequences on the working environment of youth information workers. 32% declared a drop in concentration and 39% in motivation while working hours and workload increased for 39% and 42% respectively. Respondents faced similar challenges: the increase of online meetings which resulted in an increase in workload, teleworking that blurred the line between professional and private life, challenges related to adapting services to the online world and the lack of human interaction.
A boost for new online activities
As many as 82% offered new activities targeted at young people such as online quizzes, virtual competitions, radio programmes, podcasts, game’s night and online tournaments. The events with the participation of volunteers, during which they shared their personal experiences, turned out to be the most inspiring for young people. A lot invested in social media platforms as they became a key communication tool to reach and be reached by young people (posting on social media increasing by 60%).
New working methods and tools
The pandemic has also radically changed the working methods of youth information workers. The use of digital tools has become commonplace. The daily use of communication tools such as Zoom increased from 7% to 62% and of social media platforms from 76% to 89% before and after the pandemic. The popularity of interactivity tools such as Kahoot! increased from 7% to 31% (weekly usage).
But, beware of technological inequalities
If digital tools allowed us to stay in contact and interact with our target audiences, it has strong limitations. 60% of respondents stated that it is difficult to interact with young people using only digital tools. These difficulties have translated into reaching out to young people with fewer opportunities. As many as 70% of respondents said that they had problems with it. Many planned specific outreach activities to target them, including doing street work.
Motivation is still the key
What motivated the respondents to act the most? Being aware of the importance of their actions. As one interviewee emphasized: “the motivation was always high because it was clear that we were facing a global challenge and our role, especially towards our target, was very important”.
The show must go on, stronger than before
Just as scientists managed to develop vaccines in one year, employees from the youth information sector were able to react quickly to the challenges facing them. Some were better prepared than others, having the competences, equipment and tools in place, but most made an incredible jump into the digital world and innovated in order to offer more than services – support and hope – to young people. I strongly believe that youth information will emerge stronger from the crisis in order to give young people new opportunities in the difficult post COVID-19 era.
About the publication
Eurodesk Brussels Link carried out an online survey to collect data on the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on the Eurodesk network. A first survey was carried out 3 months after the outbreak and this one 12 months after. The survey covers the channels used by young people and youth workers to reach Eurodesk’s services, and in turn, how these services were adapted by the network, what channels were used to reach out to young people and youth workers and, the impact on the nature of tasks such as enquiries. It also identifies the usage, satisfaction and expectations of our national coordinators and multipliers in terms of support and services provided by Eurodesk at the national and European level.