Youth worker: job description

Youth worker: job description

Youth workers are responsible for planning, organising and overseeing community programmes designed to redress inequalities and facilitate the personal, social and emotional development of young people between the ages of 11-25.
As you will be working with young people the ability to gain the trust of others is an essential skill.

What does a youth worker do? Typical employers | Qualifications and training | Key skills

Youth workers are responsible for a number of organisational and fundraising roles. The job will involve working with children and young people from a variety of backgrounds, so good communication skills are important.

Responsibilities of the job typically include:

  • managing projects
  • planning and organising appropriate youth and community programmes
  • establishing new youth services
  • recruiting, training and supervising volunteers and paid employees
  • undertaking detached ‘outreach' youth work
  • producing reports and business plans
  • giving presentations
  • promoting young people's interests
  • maintaining records
  • managing and administering budgets and resources
  • preparing and distributing publicity materials and displays
  • liaising and working with parents, schools, the police and other community groups/organisations
  • providing advocacy and counselling
  • raising funds

Hours are fairly typical, but as a key support worker you may be required to be on hand in the case of an emergency.

Typical employers of youth workers

  • Local education authorities (LEAs)
  • Local government
  • Health and housing departments
  • Independent, voluntary and charitable organisations

Most people enter youth work as volunteers or as part-time workers and are normally called youth support workers. Vacancies are advertised online, in newspapers, local authority jobs lists and publications including The Big Issue, Community Care, The Times Educational Supplement and The Scotsman as well as their online equivalents.

Qualifications and training required

As a graduate, you can only become a youth worker if you have a relevant degree that has been validated by the National Youth Agency (NYA). You can do a validated BA (Hons) degree or, if you already have a degree in a subject unrelated to youth work, you can do a postgraduate level qualification. The NYA publishes a list of validated courses on its website.

School leavers can do an apprenticeship followed by work-based qualifications to qualify as a youth support worker (as opposed to the graduate route that qualifies you as a youth worker). Employers may then support you to go on and qualify as a youth worker after your apprenticeship. There are two types of apprenticeship: the intermediate level apprenticeship allows you to train as an assistant youth support worker; the advanced level apprenticeship allows you to train as a youth support worker. Apprenticeships are advertised on the government website.

To find out more about public sector careers that you can get into via a school leaver route (eg an apprenticeship or school leaver training programme) see the public sector section of TARGETcareers, our website aimed at school leavers.

Most employers and providers of youth work training will ask that you have some paid or voluntary experience of working with young people. This can be gained by involvement in student community schemes, pressure groups or community projects. Placements may also be available from local charities and volunteer bureaux. You will need a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check to work with children.

Key skills

  • Organisation
  • Verbal and written communication skills
  • Maturity
  • Reliability
  • Responsibility
  • Resilience
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