The role of a youth worker is very important in the society we are living in. The reason is, youth workers help in the social and personal development of youths. They prepare and deliver activities for young people that can prove instrumental in making them acquire new skills and in improving their confidence. For the betterment of society, youths must fulfill their potential. The growth and development of humanity and civilization never comes from a single pocket. Growth must be inclusive in nature and every strata of the society should be able to participate in it.
A youth worker is responsible for engaging with young people (aged 13–19) in a variety of settings. He helps these youngsters in facing the challenges of life by developing their personal and social skills through activities that are enjoyable, educational and satisfying.
The basic idea is to empower young people. Youth workers strive to make these people understand the aspects of health, education, attitudes and environment. Only empowered youths can change the society. A youth worker is also known as youth support worker or youth and community worker. His primary role is to help young people with a variety of issues and needs. It could be providing counseling, teaching values, building relationships and organizing events etc. Youth social workers act as mentors to these young populations.
The young individuals have specific needs and youth workers try to fulfill those needs. They are trained professionals that specialize in working with a variety of young adults, children and adolescents. Most often than not, youth workers are employed by community organizations, faith-based groups or specific youth centers. A youth worker can prefer to work with a specific group of people such as, young offenders or ethnic minority children or those having disabilities or learning disabilities etc.
In USA, a youth worker must have at least a high school diploma or GED. However, preference is given to those with formal training in youth work. The course content usually includes subjects like social services, psychology, communications, adolescent development, humanities and counseling. More than the academic qualification, this career gives importance to experience of working with young individuals. Volunteering works can prove vital in gaining practical experience. Most of the employers also provide on the job training to enable new youth workers to learn the required policies and procedures.
If one wants to work as a professional youth worker in UK, he/she must have a qualification recognized by the National Youth Agency (NYA) or the Youth Council for Northern Ireland. One can pursue different foundation degrees, diplomas, honors’ degrees or post-graduate degrees in this field. But according to one recent ruling, since 2010 onwards, a youth worker must have education qualification of degree level or higher. One can pursue a course in youth work through full or part-time study, work-based training and distance learning modes.
Youth workers can find employment opportunities in schools, churches, faith-based organizations, nonprofit and voluntary organizations, local authorities and government agencies. This is a highly satisfying job.