With the risk of disasters, such as global warming, painting a bleak picture of the future, the world looks to young people for hope. Embodied by remarkable youth such as Greta Thunberg, the new generation has immense potential for creating positive change and progress.
If you are someone who wants to help young people realize their potential, here is a guide on youth workers, what they do, who should become a youth worker and why, and how you can get started!
What Is A Youth Worker?
A youth worker is someone who works with young people, usually aged 11 to 25, to support them in their social, educational, and personal development. Functioning as an active mentor and guide, a youth worker works with youth individually or in groups, typically in informal settings.
In addition, youth workers aim to help children and young adults develop the skills and confidence needed to chart a successful transition into adulthood. They often work with at-risk children to support them in making wise decisions, such as engaging in an after-school activity or planning their career well in advance.
If you recently came across a youth work course and are wondering if you should take it, the next few sections will help you make an informed decision by highlighting the responsibilities of a youth worker, what it takes to become one, and how you can get started as a youth worker.
What Are A Youth Worker’s Responsibilities?
Depending upon a youth worker’s specific job, their responsibilities may vary. However, the core responsibilities of a youth worker include:
Building trusting relationships with children and young adults
Advocating for young people’s interests
Running projects to empower youth
Instilling confidence and self-awareness in youth
In fulfilling these core responsibilities, a youth worker may be responsible for:
Assessing the needs of young people
Planning and managing projects for youth skill development
Managing program budgets and applying for funding
Providing counseling or mentorship to young individuals
Recruiting volunteers and hiring staff
Leading workshops in schools and community centers
Engaging with parents
Collaborating with other stakeholders, such as schools, community centers and the police
Who Should Become A Youth Worker?
Considering the great impact that youth workers can make and the sensitive nature of their work, youth workers should possess certain characteristics. People with the following characteristics should consider becoming youth workers:
Passionate about the interests of and issues faced by children and young people
Emotionally intelligent and sensitive
Committed and resilient, even in the face of little progress
Ability to handle stress
Notable management, planning, and organization skills
Why Should You Become A Youth Worker?
Being responsible for supporting a young person’s social and intellectual development is a daunting duty. However, it can prove to be exceptionally rewarding. If you are thinking about becoming a youth worker, here is why you should:
You are passionate about making a difference
Working with youth, especially at-risk youth, can be challenging. However, youth workers strive to help young people chart a better future and assist them in developing skills to lead a happy, productive life.
Considering the demanding nature of the work, you should only become a youth worker if you are truly passionate about making a difference in the lives of young people.
You enjoy spending time with young people
Youth work involves spending a significant amount of time with young people while providing counseling or mentorship or running youth programs.
To do your job well and be satisfied with your work, it is important that you can remain patient with young people and understand and appreciate them.
You like having variety in your work
Youth work may be challenging, but each day is different. One day you could be counseling a teenager, the next day you could be planning a drug control program, while another day you could be visiting a school.
If you like doing different kinds of work and are good at managing a range of duties, youth work may be a good career option for you.
You want to gain transferable skills
Skills such as management, administration, planning, report writing, and communication are highly desired across professions and organizations.
Youth work offers you the opportunity to develop these skills, so if you plan to switch jobs or careers down the line, youth work will arm you with skills that will help you in doing so.
How Can You Get Started?
To work as a youth worker, most countries require you to have some sort of accreditation or postgraduate qualification. However, the general steps important in becoming a youth worker include:
If you’re unsure about whether you would like to become a youth worker, take up a volunteering position at a community center, youth support center, or a young offenders center where you can work directly with young people.
If you find the work rewarding, you can think about choosing youth work as a career.
2. Completing your undergraduate degree
Most states require a postgraduate qualification in order to work as a youth worker. Before receiving a postgraduate degree or diploma, you must first obtain an undergraduate degree.
If you plan to become a youth worker, it may be useful to study human psychology or social sciences as an undergraduate.
3. Obtaining a postgraduate degree or certification
After your undergraduate degree, you can apply for a postgraduate diploma, Masters program, or certification to become a youth worker.
Many universities offer programs in youth and community work, and community development that may be suitable for your purposes.
Have you ever thought about becoming a youth worker? Tell us in the comments!
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