What is a youth worker?
Youth workers deliver informal education to young people in order to develop their personal and social skills. They help young people to learn about themselves, others and society through activities that combine enjoyment, challenge, learning and achievement.
Young people engage in youth work activities on a voluntary basis. Youth work offers young people safe spaces to explore their identity, experience decision-making, increase their confidence, develop inter-personal skills and think through the consequences of their actions. This leads to better informed choices, changes in behaviour and improved outcomes for young people.
Most youth work is delivered with groups of young people rather than individuals, although there is scope for one-to-one work. This is because experience has shown the benefits of young people learning through sharing and understanding with their peers. Youth work with groups of young people, whether planned or responsive, should have or develop clear learning goals.
Styles of youth work
Detached youth work aims to work with young people where they are located, whereas outreach work recruits young people to bring them into an existing project or centre. Project work aims to provide learning and development opportunities for disadvantaged or disaffected young people, and targeted work focuses on those who have the greatest need of help.
The type of activity undertaken ranges from outdoor sporting activities that encourage risk-taking within a safe environment to creative arts that encourage self-expression. Further examples are young people being invited to volunteer to do work within their community, or to attend an issues-based course such as alcohol awareness training.
Planning for successful youth work
High quality youth work is underpinned by a Youth Work Curriculum. In Hertfordshire, the Youth Work Curriculum document is a tool to produce quality programmes that enable, support and facilitate the development of young people's personal and social skills through appropriate youth work interventions.
Qualification routes for youth workers
Youth support workers (part-time) may start their employment with YC Hertfordshire without any formal qualifications, but it is a requirement of the service that they complete the YC Hertfordshire Youth Work Induction Programme, and the Level 3 Certificate in Youth Work Practice within a year of starting employment.
Professional range youth workers must already have a professional qualification in youth work which is approved by the Joint Negotiating Committee (JNC) before they can be recruited to this post.
JNC qualifications are delivered by universities, and a list of validated courses is on the National Youth Agency website: http://www.nya.org.uk
Honours degree level is now the minimum requirement for gaining professional status for youth work in England.
All vacancies within YC Hertfordshire are advertised on: www.hertfordshire.gov.uk/jobs
From time to time trainee posts may be advertised, and it will then be a requirement of the job offer that practitioners undertake one of the qualifications stipulated above.