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Youth Worker

Plans, organises and oversees community programmes designed to redress inequalities and facilitate the personal, social and emotional development of young people between the ages of 11-25.

Job description

Youth workers enhance the personal and social development of young people and are concerned with enabling them to feel comfortable with themselves, making and sustaining personal relationships, reaching their potential and finding their place in society.

Work activities

  • Supporting the development of clubs and services
  • Developing and delivering programmes and supports for intervention
  • Liaising with youth and community organisations to ensure the maximum benefit to the target audience
  • Facilitating the recruitment, support and training of local volunteers
  • Working in partnership with relevant community, voluntary and statutory agencies and groups to develop and adapt youth programmes on an ongoing basis
  • Maintaining good links with relevant statutory and voluntary agencies and organisations at local, regional and national level.

Work conditions

Travel: can be a regular feature of the job though overseas travel is rare.
Working hours: regular unsocial hours, including evenings and weekends.
Location: mainly in towns or cities throughout the country.
Opportunities for self-employment: sometimes possible for those with additional qualifications, eg outdoor pursuits.

Typical employers

Local youth services Youth clubs and groups Youth information centres Neighbourhood youth projects Garda youth diversion projects Local drugs task force projects Young people’s facilities and services fund projects VEC funded projects Teenage health initiatives.

Career Development

Limited. Promotion usually depends on staffing levels but may be to coordinator or senior management level, or sideways into areas of specialism.

Salaries

Salaries vary depending on experience, qualifications and sector of employment.

Entry Requirements

While relevant experience has in the past been more important than a qualification, increasingly employers are asking for a recognised qualification in community development work whether at undergraduate or postgraduate level. The professional endorsement of community work education and training programmes is currently under development on an all-Ireland basis.

Specific degree subjects required

While opportunities are open to graduates from all disciplines those with appropriate primary degrees have an advantage especially when applying for postgraduate programmes.

Other relevant degree subjects

Anthropology Psychology Social administration Social sciences Social work Sociology

Postgraduate study

There are a number of postgraduate programmes in youth work, some of which also combine the study of community development. Entry is normally confined to those holding a primary degree in one of the social sciences (social work, sociology, social or public administration, political science, economics, psychology, anthropology, town planning, adult education etc) and who have experience, paid or voluntary, or work with communities, neighbourhood groups, youth organisations or projects or other similar groups.

Those holding other primary degrees may also be considered in the light of their experience and personal studies.

Specific entry requirements

Relevant experience is normally essential. In line with national provisions for the protection of children and vulnerable adults, applicants for training programmes will normally be required to undergo Garda/Police vetting.

Training

There is constant expansion in the area of training and accreditation for youth and community workers. Continuing professional development is available through a range of courses, seminars, and conferences. A Directory of Youth & Community Work Courses is available from the Irish Youth Work Centre. They also run training events that focus on youth and community based issues such as young refugees, sexuality, suicide, anger management and substance abuse as well as on practical training tools for youth and community workers, such as supervision and facilitation skills.

Tips for applications

A background of working with young people would be an advantage.

Skills and qualities

  • Good communication skills
  • Ability to engage with target groups
  • Capable of working both on own initiative and as part of a team
  • Leadership skills
  • Report writing skills
  • In-depth understanding of relevant policies.