As a Youth Worker, it’s important that you’re able to build strong and trusting relationships with your young clients, as they may come to rely on you for a number of things. And while it can be challenging at times dealing with young people who have experienced different levels of trauma, knowing that you’re making a difference in their lives will help to keep you motivated.
In this blog, we take a look at the most important skills and knowledge you need to become a successful Youth Worker and how you can help vulnerable young people reach their potential.
What is involved with youth work in Australia?
Youth Workers work with vulnerable young people who may be struggling with a range of different issues. These could cover different areas of a young person’s life, from mental health to financial issues.
The role of a Youth Worker is to assess their clients' needs in order to prepare, develop and implement educational and support programs that can help their clients. It’s the Youth Worker’s responsibility to check in with, monitor and report on the progress of their clients. Part of the job involves identifying problem areas and, when necessary, raising issues with government authorities.
What kind of job can I get in youth work?
The range of services available that are focused on assisting young people are wide and varied. These services can be run by both public and privately-owned agencies. These could be schools, youth refuges, group homes or community centres.
Some areas you could specialise in as a Youth Worker include:
- youth justice
- community services
- education and training
- child/family intervention.
According to LinkedIn’s ‘Jobs on the Rise’ report, Youth Workers are one of the most in-demand jobs of the future. So if you’re thinking of becoming a Youth Worker, a career in this sector could prove to be stable, reliable and offer room for growth.
Some career options you could pursue as a Youth Worker are:
- Youth Career and Guidance Counsellor
- Youth and Family Services Officer
- Case Worker
- Youth Housing Support Worker
- Youth Counsellor
- Youth Services Co-ordinator
How do Youth Workers use their skills to help young people?
Youth Workers help young people through practical measures like identifying issues, assessing risks and connecting them with services and programs that can help them. In this way, they can help their young clients with their educational and social development.
But they also help young people with their personal development. Youth Workers help young people by opening up learning opportunities for them to learn new skills, which in turn can help to boost self-esteem and self-confidence. This can also help encourage independence, by allowing young people to take responsibility for themselves and make reasoned decisions.
You may find that you already have the foundational skills needed to become a Youth Worker; however, a youth work VET course can help to teach you new things as well as formalise your existing skills and knowledge.
What are the most important skills for Youth Workers?
Some people may be drawn to this profession because they’ve dealt with their own challenges growing up and want to help future generations. That said, even if you don’t have lived experience, you can still become a successful Youth Worker.
The most important thing about becoming a successful Youth Worker is a willingness to work hard and continue learning.
Youth Workers help young people by employing a range of techniques including counselling and spotting risk factors. To do this, they need to build the skills and knowledge that can help them identify and resolve risks, while also becoming a trusted source of support for their clients.
The top skills and knowledge needed to be a successful Youth Worker:
Communication skills cover more than just being able to get your point across clearly, though this is also very important. Having good communications skills also means that you’re a good listener and that you’re able to read between the lines.
Active listening is an important skill for Youth Workers. Active listening is all about hearing the whole message, and not selectively tuning out bits of information you don’t think are relevant.
As a Youth Worker, you’ll also be dealing with parents, guardians and other professionals in your line of work. You need to make sure that your communication skills are sharp so that you can clearly and accurately convey important information between groups.
A Youth Worker should be someone a young person can trust; someone they can approach about sensitive topics. For this reason, it’s important that Youth Workers are capable of building strong relationships with their young clients.
Part of building rapport with your clients is being able to empathise with them.
Empathy is different to sympathy. Sympathy is when you feel for someone. Whereas empathy is about feeling with someone. Empathy is all about putting yourself in someone else’s shoes and seeing things from their perspective. Having empathy will help you to get to know your clients better, which will help you build a better rapport with them.
Some of the young people you’ll be interacting with will have survived serious trauma, which can affect their behaviour towards you and others. Be patient in getting to know them and empathise with their situation.
Work well under pressure
A day in the life of a Youth Worker can be busy and varied. But occasionally, you may have to deal with crisis situations. If and when these arise, you need to be able to keep a cool head so you assess the situation and respond accordingly.
As a Youth Worker, you’ll be interacting with a range of people from different cultural, social and economic backgrounds. It’s important that you have a thorough understanding of different peoples’ backgrounds in order to connect and communicate with them better.
Part of your job as a Youth Worker will not only be able to connect with young people, but to assess their needs and identify problems. From there, you may also need to connect them with services and programs that can support and help them. So it’s imperative that you have a robust knowledge of the industry, the services available, the channels you need to go through, the different professionals you need to connect with and how you, as a Youth Worker, can be an advocate for your young clients.
Do I need a qualification to become a Youth Worker?
According to Job Outlook, most employers will require you to obtain a formal qualification in youth work. The vast majority of people who work as Youth Workers hold a certificate III, certificate IV or a diploma, while a smaller percentage hold a bachelor's degree.
An accredited VET course can help you better understand the techniques required by the job. It will also teach you which techniques to employ when and why. Because while youth work will require you to use your intuition at times, you’ll also need to rely on your training and your learned skills and knowledge.
OC offers the CHC50413 Diploma of Youth Work and the CHC40413 Certificate IV in Youth Work as online VET courses.
The CHC40413 Certificate IV in Youth Work is the perfect starting point for those who want to begin a career in youth work, or who want to formalise their experience. It will provide you a well-rounded introduction to this important sector.
For those who are looking to take the next step up, the CHC50413 Diploma of Youth Work can teach you more advanced skills and knowledge.
What are you waiting for? Enrol today with OC and discover just how rewarding a career in youth work can be.