Our new BA (Hons) Youth Work and Communities degree has been designed to help kick-start your journey towards becoming a professional youth worker, a fulfilling career for those who want to help young people at critical stages in their life.
But what makes a good youth worker? Our course can give you the skills and knowledge needed for the role, but there are some personal characteristics that are important to possess or develop in order to be an effective youth worker.
Here are five essential things you need to be a good youth worker.
Good communication skills
The most fundamental trait which prospective youth workers need is the ability to communicate clearly. This not only includes the ability to clearly verbalise the help and advice you are passing on to those you work with, but also the capacity to listen to others and properly take in what they are saying.
This is something that can be improved over time with practice, so don’t worry if you feel this isn’t your strongest trait just yet - the most important thing is that you are willing to work on your communication skills until they are at the level they need to be.
Trust in yourself is a great quality to possess for any job, but it is vital for those looking into any kind of social work. Your ability to believe that what you are doing is important, and that you are capable of developing into a highly skilled professional, is necessary to empower you to help others.
You might have chosen to explore youth work as a career option because of a desire to embark on a career that benefits others, both on an individual level and in a wider sense. It’s that kind of mindset that will help you on a day-to-day basis, even when you are faced with challenging situations.
Speaking of tricky situations, youth workers do have to deal with a wide range of them. Not all cases you come across will be negative – young people are asked to work with a youth worker for a variety of reasons – but there will be days that are more difficult than others.
Being able to cope with those days in a professional manner, without losing sight of why you wanted to become a youth worker in the first place, will be the key to a long and successful career. Your resilience in those situations can make a real difference to those you are working with, and can lead to happier days ahead!
The challenges that people of your age faced growing up are different to those that your parents faced, and will also be different to the ones faced by the next generation of young people. For a long and successful career in youth work, you’ll need to keep abreast of these changes to ensure your help and advice is still useful and relevant.
While a lot of the fundamentals stay the same, changes in society, technology and youth culture can mean you have to adapt your methods to suit those you work with. You don’t need to look any further than the impact smart phones have had on how young people communicate to show you how quickly things can change. The young people of the future may be communicating in a way that we haven’t even heard of yet, so the ability to adapt to new circumstances will be vital!
Above all, youth workers need the ability to empathise with those they work with. It’s one thing to be a good communicator, and have the knowledge and skills needed to give out the right advice - but the ability to really empathise with someone’s problems, and want to help them overcome what is facing them, is the most important quality you need.
This one aspect ties everything together. If you connect with someone, you’ll naturally want to listen to and understand them more. You’ll want to be resilient for them should things get tough, and be willing to adapt to the situation to provide the best support you can. And ultimately, seeing them overcome their problems, perhaps in part owing to your support, will give you the belief that what you are doing truly matters.
Does this sound like you or sound like the skills you want to build on? Find out more about how our BA (Hons) Youth Work and Communities degree can enable you to develop these capabilities, empowering you to become a successful youth worker.