The project, which is being funded through €302,000 from Erasmus Plus, a European Union grant programme for education, training, youth and sport, will look at youth work across the UK, France, Finland, Italy and Estonia.
The study is being conducted by the University of St Mark & St John, which is based in Plymouth. Lead researcher Dr Jon Ord said it is hoped the project will demonstrate the positive impact youth work has, providing evidence that can be used to “level the playing field of inequalities” across youth work services.
Young people will get the chance to be directly involved in the evaluation process by explaining how youth work has affected their lives.
“This is the first research of its kind and will identify the authentic impact of youth work by really getting to the heart of what’s important to young people, in order to promote a service which is under threat,” Ord said.
He added that all of the studies findings will be shared online with the youth work sector.
He said it will "present research that government policymakers cannot afford to ignore".
Latest figures on local authority spending, published by the Department for Education, show that spending on youth services fell by 12 per cent from £712m in 2013/14 to £627m in 2014/15.
Ord said that although youth work services in the UK have been cut in recent years, this is not the case in other countries.
“Some of our European partners invest significantly more in resources for training and expertise in their much larger youth services, and those countries reap positive intergenerational outcomes in their communities,” he said.