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Youth worker: Job description

Youth workers promote the personal, educational and social development of young people aged between 13 and 19, although in some cases they may extend this to those aged 11 to 13 and 19 to 25. Programmes aim to engage young people, redress inequalities, value opinions and empower individuals to take action on issues affecting their lives, including health, education, unemployment and the environment, by developing positive skills and attitudes.

Youth workers respond to the needs and interests of young people and work in a range of environments: youth centres, schools, colleges, faith-based groups and Youth Offending Teams (see the Youth Justice Board for England and Wales ). Methods include supporting recreational activities, providing advice and counselling, sometimes in an outreach setting.

Typical work activities

Youth workers' roles vary greatly, but typical activities involve:

  • managing and administering youth and community projects and resources;
  • assessing the needs of young people, and planning and delivering programmes related to areas such as health, fitness, smoking, drugs, relationships and bullying;
  • running arts-based activities, community/environmental projects, residential activities, outdoor education and sporting activities;
  • befriending and supporting individuals in various settings;
  • mentoring and supporting individuals to encourage social inclusion;
  • offering counselling to individuals;
  • recruiting, training and managing staff, including volunteers;
  • undertaking administrative tasks, verifying information and responding to queries;
  • meeting, liaising and networking with police, educational establishments, social services, Youth Offending Teams (see the Youth Justice Board for England and Wales) and other agencies to address issues and promote opportunities for young people;
  • working with parents and community groups to win support for improved provision and acting as an advocate for young people’s interests;
  • identifying and pursuing sources of funding for projects to improve services and/or resources for young people;
  • drawing up business plans, writing reports and making formal presentations to funding bodies.

Outreach workers engage with young people in pubs and cafés and on the street to make contact with alienated and 'at risk' groups who reject formal activities.

Written by Laura Brooks, University of Westminster
April 2012

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