Youth work in Estonia is focused on supporting young people’s personal development. In the context of Estonian success of PISA test results the discussion on the lack of the so called ’soft/transferable skills’ has risen. The necessity of these skills in Europe is stressed in the European Union (EU) framework of 8 key competences (European Commission, 2007). Are soft skills learned and practiced within youth work? The main aim of the research introduced in this article is to describe learning objectives and outcomes of non-formal learning practiced in youth work in connection to key competences but also to understand how the process of non-formal learning is planned and carried out, more specifically in hobby and camping activities. We were also interested in how the role of youth worker is described and perceived among Estonian youth workers today, concerning the challenges to ensure multifaceted development of young people. The research of youth workers perceptions about their roles is based on individual interviews with nine youth workers from various districts of Estonia. In order to explore the learning objectives and outcomes of non-formal learning practiced in youth work as hobby and camping activities in connection to key competences, the answers from 86 youth centres were collected. The results of the research showed that the main objectives and learning outcomes of non-formal learning activities were connected to key competences contributing to the development of so-called soft skills. The role of youth worker is mostly perceived as young people ́s character builder and a role model to young generation.
Keywords: youth work in Estonia, non-formal learning, key-competences, soft skills, youth centre, hobby activities, camps, role of youth worker