Youth workers engage with, supervise and look after the interests of young people under their care. Giving them support and advice on issues like their education, relationships and career and social development.
Qualified youth workers tend to work in a public sector environment, with councils, local authorities and charitable foundations that offer facilities and a support service to vulnerable teenagers.
Work with young people requires building a rapport with them and understanding youth culture. Having good verbal and written communication skills is a must. This is essential to be able to gain their trust and to then be able engage and support them effectively in developing their personalities. You need to have the ability to build relationships and break down barriers with troubled youngsters who come from disadvantaged backgrounds or communities.
Trying to deliver high quality youth work to areas of social deprivation is not an easy job, as you will be reaching out to youngsters who will be emotionally disturbed or even abused in the past. You need to have good administrative skills, and have the ability to manage and oversee youth work programmes and community projects and lead them to a successful conclusion.
As a youth worker most of your time will be spend face to face interacting and supervising young people and offering them support and guidance. You will be looking after the welfare of young adults, making assessments as well as offering them advice on their education, guiding them on any career ambitions options available to them. Teenagers can have complicated social lives and relationships, for instance boyfriend and girlfriend problems, you must be on hand to offer practical advice and support. As you can imagine this can be a complex and challenging job, but a very rewarding one. You will need to be able to understand current youth culture, and be able to relate to young people well.
You could work as a specialist team of youth workers providing social care and supervising young offenders. This could mean attending juvenile courts and provide court duty service in a youth court, attend hearings and work in partnership with probation officers to write pre sentence reports. In a YOT you primary aim will be to work with the parents and families of the children and youngsters under your care to try to ensure they do not offend, or to stop the re-offending. With the police you will have to ensure that Court Orders are enforced, and on some occasions you will be attending police stations as well as arranging bail for young offenders. You would also work closely with The Youth Justice Board for England and Wales [YJB], try to try address the issues that leading to the offending behaviour.
As a youth worker some of the types of issues and problems you could be dealing with include helping young girls who have become pregnant and, some of them underage pregnancies. For adolescent pregnant young girls in this situation there will be emotional and socioeconomic factors to help them with as well as liaising between them and their families. On top of this you will have to help in arranging medical care and even discuss very sensitive issues like abortion, if this is what the young person in contemplating.
Drug abuse is another social ill that can affect youngsters, so as a outreach worker you may have to visit certain pubs to try to make contact with vulnerable young people. It is essential that you are able to work as part of a team, for you will be liaising with other local authority support services like social workers or a Youth Offending Teams [YOT].
Even though you could be based in a youth centre care home or office, you will be required to travel to see people. It is because of this that virtually all youth worker jobs that are advertised will require you to have a full driving license. Typically in your caseload you can expect to work with teenagers aged between 13 – 19 years of age.
Hours of work
There are both part time jobs as well as full time vacancies available. The vast majority of positions will be 9-5 jobs. However to due the nature of the work there are many positions that offer opportunities to work weekends and evenings.
Youth worker salary
The basic starting for a recently qualified youth worker is in the region of £18,000.
Training and qualifications
All applicants will be subject to Criminal Records Bureau checks. It is preferred but not essential that applicants to vacancies should have NVQ Level 3 or equivalent in Youth Work. When applying for any jobs vacancies it would help your application a lot if you already had any have Field work Experience. Of course the more education or experience you have the better, like having a degree in Youth & Community studies.
The National Youth Agency
19-23 Humberstone Road,
Telephone: 0116 242 7350
Youth Justice Board for England and Wales
11 Carteret Street
London SW1H 9DL
Telephone: 020 7271 3033
Relevant youth worker links: