Guest post on drownthenoise.com

Our guest post is being published on drownthenoise.com today – it’s an open look at the idea of vocation in youth work. Feel free to post in the comments about how witty, insightful and amazing it is!!!

If you’ve come to Ultimate Youth Worker after already reading the post on drownthenoise.com  – WELCOME!!! We hope you found it witty, insightful and amazing too!

We’re really glad you’ve come to check us out. Here’s a quick guide to us as a company:

Our Blog

You should already be on our blog page, so you can scroll down and read some of our recent posts. To see older posts, there are a few ways of doing this:
  • Click on “older posts” at the bottom of this page
  • Click on one of the categories on the right hand side of the page to read specific types of posts (e.g. professional identity, youth work, self care etc)
  • Use the “blog archive” on the right 

Our Website

We are currently developing a website to showcase what we believe and what we do! Check us out.

Connect with us!

We’d love to connect with you in the following ways:

  • Subscribe to receive our posts via email (you can do it on the right hand side of this post) – you’ll receive one email a week with that week’s post(s). Don’t worry, we’ll never spam you or sell your details.
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Once again, thanks for visiting Ultimate Youth Worker! We hope you find some useful stuff on our blog. If you know any youth workers or youth pastors, we’d love for you to tell them about us – each week we provide a new post so keep on coming for more thoughts on youth work.

UltimateYouthWorker

Aaron Garth is the Executive Director of Ultimate Youth Worker. Aaron has worked as a youth worker in a number of settings including local church, street drug and alcohol outreach, family services, residential care, local government and youth homelessness since 2003. Aaron is a regular speaker at camps, retreats, & youth work training events and is a dedicated to seeing a more professional youth sector in Australia. Aaron is a graduate of RMIT University and an alumnus of their youth work program. He lives in Melbourne with his wife Jennifer & their daughters Hope, Zoe and son Ezra.

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Guest post on youthsectorblog.

Our guest post is being published on the collaborative blog youthsectorblog.wordpress.com today – it’s a frank discussion on the lack of mental health training given to youth workers in the current youth work curriculum. Feel free to post in the comments about how witty, insightful and amazing it is!!!
If you’ve come to Ultimate Youth Worker after already reading the post on youthsectorblog.wordpress.com  WELCOME!!! We hope you found it witty, insightful and amazing too!
We’re really glad you’ve come to check us out. Here’s a quick guide to us as a company:

Our Blog

You should already be on our blog page, so you can scroll down and read some of our recent posts. To see older posts, there are a few ways of doing this:
  • Click on “older posts” at the bottom of this page
  • Click on one of the categories on the right hand side of the page to read specific types of posts (e.g. professional identity, youth work, self care etc)
  • Use the “blog archive” on the right

Our Website

We are currently developing a website to showcase what we believe and what we do! Check us out

Connect with us!

We’d love to connect with you in the following ways:
  • Subscribe to receive our posts via email (you can do it on the right hand side of this post) – you’ll receive one email a week with that week’s post(s). Don’t worry, we’ll never spam you or sell your details.
  • Follow us on Twitter
  • Like us on Facebook
  • If you haven’t yet, sign up for our newsletter to find out all the goings on at Ultimate Youth Worker. (Sign up here)
Once again, thanks for visiting Ultimate Youth Worker! We hope you find some useful stuff on our blog. If you know any youth workers or youth pastors, we’d love for you to tell them about us – each week we provide a new post so keep on coming for more thoughts on youth work.

UltimateYouthWorker

Aaron Garth is the Executive Director of Ultimate Youth Worker. Aaron has worked as a youth worker in a number of settings including local church, street drug and alcohol outreach, family services, residential care, local government and youth homelessness since 2003. Aaron is a regular speaker at camps, retreats, & youth work training events and is a dedicated to seeing a more professional youth sector in Australia. Aaron is a graduate of RMIT University and an alumnus of their youth work program. He lives in Melbourne with his wife Jennifer & their daughters Hope, Zoe and son Ezra.

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Guest post on drownthenoise.wordpress.com/

Our guest post is being published on Neels Redelinghuys’ Blog today – it’s an open look at the situations that shape a youth worker through their career. Feel free to post in the comments about how witty, insightful and amazing it is!!!

If you’ve come to Ultimate Youth Worker after already reading the post on http://drownthenoise.wordpress.com/  WELCOME!!! We hope you found it witty, insightful and amazing too!

We’re really glad you’ve come to check us out. Here’s a quick guide to us as a company:

Our Blog

You should already be on our blog page, so you can scroll down and read some of our recent posts. To see older posts, there are a few ways of doing this:

  • Click on “older posts” at the bottom of this page
  • Click on one of the categories on the right hand side of the page to read specific types of posts (e.g. professional identity, youth work, self care etc)
  • Use the “blog archive” on the right

Our Website

We are currently developing a website to showcase what we believe and what we do! Check us out

Connect with us!

We’d love to connect with you in the following ways:

  • Subscribe to receive our posts via email (you can do it on the right hand side of this post) – you’ll receive one email a week with that week’s post(s). Don’t worry, we’ll never spam you or sell your details.
  • Follow us on Twitter
  • Like us on Facebook
  • If you haven’t yet, sign up for our newsletter to find out all the goings on at Ultimate Youth Worker. (Sign up here)

Once again, thanks for visiting Ultimate Youth Worker! We hope you find some useful stuff on our blog. If you know any youth workers or youth pastors, we’d love for you to tell them about us – each week we provide a new post so keep on coming for more thoughts on youth work.

UltimateYouthWorker

Aaron Garth is the Executive Director of Ultimate Youth Worker. Aaron has worked as a youth worker in a number of settings including local church, street drug and alcohol outreach, family services, residential care, local government and youth homelessness since 2003. Aaron is a regular speaker at camps, retreats, & youth work training events and is a dedicated to seeing a more professional youth sector in Australia. Aaron is a graduate of RMIT University and an alumnus of their youth work program. He lives in Melbourne with his wife Jennifer & their daughters Hope, Zoe and son Ezra.

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What will youth work look like in 2013? The finale.

Its been a month and a half in the making but we are finally there. The finale of our series looking at the next twelve months or more in youth work. We have had blogger’s and professor’s of youth work from one end of the globe to the other. We heard from Shae and Stephen from youthworkinit.com, Sam Ross from teenagewhisperer.com, Professor Dana Fusco from CUNY and Professor Howard Sercombe from the University of Strathclyde. Each had their own perspectives on the current and future trends in youth work. Each brought a different perspective on what forces were pushing and pulling youth work. Each one had a particular pearl of wisdom for us. Today’s post is a wrap up of these posts with a focus on the similarities between them all. We will also give our view of the year ahead.
 

Wrap up

Our amazing guests spoke about a number of areas in which youth work will develop over the coming year. They spoke about youth worker education, technology, the economic situation and the need to be holistic in our practice.
 

Youth Worker Education

Dana Fusco spoke of the changes developing in youth work education world wide. In the US there has been a 900% increase over the past four years in youth development courses offered by higher education facilities. In the UK and Australia These courses are in decline. Dana laments the decline in youth work education, “In 2013, it is hard to predict where those who want to study youth work and youth studies in these countries will go. If they go into existing, related disciplines, e.g., social work, then youth work will too likely become case management; if they go into education, then youth work will become para-teaching“.
 
Howard Sercombe also laments the current education setting for youth worker’s. From developing a cozy little home for ourselves throughout the sixties and seventies to becoming a mainstream course in the nineties we sold our soul to the devil of higher education. Like all good corporate conglomerates the universities shafted us. Taking a subject area steeped in the tradition of practice wisdom and narrative and turning it into a McDonaldised cookie-cutter model of research-based best-practice. However true to our history we steered away from research which ultimately is leading to our higher education downfall. Conversely, Howard states, “For the first time, I can run a course for youth workers using a selection of books on youth work written by youth workers“.
 

Technology

In her response to the question Sam Ross states that she always thinks of the new technology on the horizon. Sam speaks of the massive uptake of mobile and smart phones by young people. She shows the statistics of American young people’s use of their phone and how much of their attention it takes…Are you on social networking sites? They are! Sam speaks of the need for youth workers to use this love of mobile technology to keep the attention of young people focused on what we want them focused on.

However Sam also implores us, “So while 2013 may be technologically more advanced and our ways of connecting and engaging may expand we shouldn’t forget that good youth work was the same in the past as it is today and will be tomorrow“. Its all about the relationship.

The economic situation

There is not a person alive today that can’t attest to the effects of the global financial crisis on the hip pocket. Everything seems to cost more today than it did yesterday. Even in countries like Australia which have had some reprieve from the tidal forces of the economic collapse the financial situation is difficult.  As Howard put it “Austerity measures have required significant cutbacks in local funding and this has carried through, often disproportionately, to youth work services“. But we are not the only ones feeling the pinch. Our young people are finding employment harder to gain, University fees have shot through the roof and the general cost of business has increased significantly.
 
For youth workers this means difficulties at every turn. Shae and Stephen state, “Over the last 25 years, the cost of university education in the US has more than tripled, which has resulted in 1 in 11 people def aulting on their student loan repayments within two years of making payments“. Many of our guests stated that this cost was prohibitive and that if you are one of those who are entering a university to study youth work then you are likely to pay through the nose and then struggle to pay it back.
 
If you rely on government funding or philanthropic support to run your organisation you may be short on funds for a while. Many governments are finding their budgets significantly in the red. Many philanthropic organisations have seen their investments dip over the past few years as well and are giving out less to allow for their continuation. Its not happening everywhere yet but as Howard said, “2013 may well be the year when the expected decimation actually happens“.

The need to be holistic in our practice.

Gone are the days where youth work happens in a silo. On any given day we are expected to hold a number of roles. Sam points out that our ability to build relationships with young people is core to our work and that this foundation is what we build on in our context. Shae and Stephen point out that young people do not live in silos but have lives with intersecting and overlapping parts. Work on one without the other areas being addressed is ineffective.
 
Dana states, “In the United States, youth work is not a unified or singular practice; rather, it has been described, and still is, a family of practices“. Its not just the states, its world wide.  We work from the same base but in different contexts. Our young people need us to have an understanding of more than how to run a good game. As copious as the needs of our young people are, the knowledge of a youth worker must equal… at least enough to refer to other professionals.
 

What will 2013 look like???

At Ultimate Youth Worker we have loved the guest posts over the last month and a half and have been pouring over them and a bunch of other research and have come to many of the same conclusions.  Technology is going to be more important this year than ever before. 12 months on from the death of Steve jobs saw the smart phone war at its highest. Exponential growth in mobile, web and personal technology has meant that the ability to communicate or gain information has never been more accessible. Youth workers need to become more tech savvy just to survive. New web applications, social media and even the ubiquitous email are more important than ever to our relationship building. As youth workers we believe there will be a shift to online training, both formal and informal. Blogs, webinars, podcasts, university course and professional development groups are all starting to toy with developing a solid presence on the web. With the hardware never more than arms length from most young people and youth workers we need to be there.
 
Youth work education will need to adapt. Aside from becoming more tech enabled we need to gain more breadth and more depth in our education. Young people are changing so fast that we need to keep up with the trends. We hang our shingle on our ability to develop relationships with young people. Good. But we need to develop this skill set. We are a relatively emergent human services field and as such need to develop our purpose, values and critical approach. This is depth. We also need to gain an understanding of where we fit in the multidisciplinary field that young people now frequent.  We need an understanding of who and what our colleagues in other field bring to the table. We need to understand their language, their approach and their skill sets. It is the only way we will be able to speak into their work and intervene for our young peoples best.
 
Money has never been more important and less relevant. The affect of the financial crisis is all around us and will continue to mess with us for years to come in ways we can’t even imagine yet. IT DOESN’T MATTER. The most effective tools in our toolkit are FREE or really cheap. Building relationships takes time. A facebook page can be accessed by free wi-fi at McDonald’s. A mobile phone plan is cheaper than ever. The tools to build relationships are time, energy and interest. Most youth workers have that in trumps. But that means we need to have them around. Youth workers need to feed their families too. With lay-offs happening throughout the sector worldwide there is fear of being cut. Like Howard says, its happened before. The cycle will return. Be the best you can be with what you’ve got and you will be one of the last to get chopped. 
 
Be more!!! Be holistic. What do you do when you have that relationship? We believe youth workers need to see young people as whole people in their context. We need a biopsychoscialspiritual focus. We need to understand the person, their context and their pathways out of their situation. We need to support our young people in every way we can. We also need to look after ourselves. As the stress builds and we are asked to become more and do more we need to have the reserves to keep going.
 
We also agree with Dana and Howard, Now is the time for an international presence developing the practice of youth work. We are seeing great international youth work research, texts, blogs, conferences etc coming to the fore. We need to build on this.
 
2013 holds possibilities and risks. We have  tried to play it safe for the last decade or more and have seen the rug being pulled out from under us. No more politically light weight youth work. We must band together and do it differently or we will see the death knell of what we hold dear… relationally based critical youth work.
 

UltimateYouthWorker

Aaron Garth is the Executive Director of Ultimate Youth Worker. Aaron has worked as a youth worker in a number of settings including local church, street drug and alcohol outreach, family services, residential care, local government and youth homelessness since 2003. Aaron is a regular speaker at camps, retreats, & youth work training events and is a dedicated to seeing a more professional youth sector in Australia. Aaron is a graduate of RMIT University and an alumnus of their youth work program. He lives in Melbourne with his wife Jennifer & their daughters Hope, Zoe and son Ezra.

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What will youth work look like in 2013?

It is with Great pleasure and a sad heart that we come to our final guest post in this series. We have heard from a number of truly inspirational and well qualified youth work professionals as to what they believe youth work will look like in 2013. Over the last three weeks we have had Shae and Stephen from youthworkinit.com, Professor Dana Fusco of CUNY and authour of “Advancing Youth Work: current trends, critical questions” and fellow blogger and youth work professional Sam Ross the teenage whisperer. This week we have the distinct pleasure to hear from Professor Howard Sercombe of the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, Scotland.
Howard has researched extensively in the area of youth studies, including studies of the future of youth, young people and public space, and community development with young people. He is interested in how we think about young people, and is currently working with colleagues from neurophysiology and developmental psychology on the implications of the brain architecture research on our understanding of young people. Professor Sercombe has had a major role in the development of youth work as a profession. His scholarship around this area includes writing the Australian Code of Ethics for Youth Work which has been adopted or adapted in three Australian States and the Australian Capital Territory and is under consideration nationally. He also wrote the Code of Ethics for the profession in Scotland. He has lectured extensively across the UK, Australia, New Zealand and Zambia on professional ethics and professionalisation, and his book Youth Work Ethics (Sage, 2010) is a milestone in the field. He is currently developing approaches to research methodology that take seriously the ethical commitment to justice and development.

So Howard what’s your take on the future of youth work?

Realities, as always, are contradictory.  Mixed.  From the perspective of the UK,  things look grim. The fiscal crisis has hit the traditional funding sources of youth work hard.  For the last fifty years, local government has had a statutory responsibility to make provision for youth work, though local authorities have had a lot of latitude about how, and to some extent if, they carry this out.  Austerity measures have required significant cutbacks in local funding and this has carried through, often disproportionately, to youth work services
But this picture is mixed.  Some authorities have actually increased funding to youth work, in recognition of the impact of the recession on young people.  Others have cut provision completely.  As a generalisation, however, cutbacks have been widespread and often deep.  In Scotland, where I live, cutbacks have been worrying but not catastrophic, at least not everywhere. 2013 may well be the year when the expected decimation actually happens. The real concern is that this fiscal crisis is not a temporary adjustment, and future cutbacks look like coming on top of the existing ones. Even when the recession is over, we face the fiscal time bomb of an ageing population.  Some are proclaiming the death of youth work as we know it in the UK.
Some of us have been here before, however.  Political economists in the 1970s talked about the contradiction between accumulation and legitimation: the need for the State to continue to guarantee profit and private accumulation, while reassuring the general population that the system was still working in their interests.  It is typical in the early phase of a fiscal crisis for the State to pull back from areas of expenditure it sees as optional, in order to support capital in its restructuring and rebalancing.  Youth work is politically lightweight, so we tend to fall into that category.  Then, two years in, the entirely predictable spectre of youth unemployment starts to raise its head.  That is followed by a crime wave, or a moral panic about one, and there is a panic reinvestment in youth work to deal with it.  I’m expecting the same pattern.  The London riots came too early in the process to have that effect, and was able to be dismissed by the political class in terms of a cultural moral deficit and individual criminality.  A repeat may not be as easily dismissed.
But all recessions are different, and this one different to most.  Most come on the back of an economic boom, leaving the State with at least some financial capacity to manage the recession.  The need to bail out the banks right at the beginning of the crisis meant that affected governments hit the recession already broke.  That means that the capacity of the State to reinvest is limited.  Youth work will continue to be done, but we might see a significant return to voluntary labour to get the hours in.  In fact we already are!
Youth work education is in a difficult place as well.  Youth work found a place in professional education in the universities from the 1960s, with real growth in the 80s and 90s.  In the last decade, however, the situation has shifted.  The focus on research has diminished the respect for practice wisdom in professional education, and youth work (along with other professional areas like teaching) has not kept up with the research agenda. Corporatisation in the university sector has meant more aggressive pursuit of objectives that promote the university as a corporation rather than the objectives of public service: and that means either high status or high earning activities.  Youth work is not a natural contender for either.  The poorly thought out introduction of fees in England has meant that training for low-earning professions like youth work are charged at the same rate as high earning professions like law, with a significant impact on demand.  The number of universities who have decided to close youth work courses is still a trickle rather than a flood, but some of those courses (including my own) were strategic and long-standing.
But that isn’t the whole story.
Beyond the question of funding and institutional support, there is a growing level of maturity in the youth work profession in the current environment, and a clearer assertion of identity.  Paradoxically, even while the funding base contracts, for example, the Scottish Government continues to insist that community learning and development, which embraces youth work, sits at the centre of its anti-poverty and inclusion strategies. The House of Commons Education Committee inquiry into youth services also provided a ringing endorsement of youth work, though noted the lack of a credible evidence base for its effectiveness.  The Irish and South African government has a very active division working on the professionalisation of youth work, government does too.  Several governments have established youth work in law, with more heading in that direction.
The consolidation of youth work practice through codes of ethics and other core constitutive documents has been progressing across the globe in the last decade.  Professional organisations for youth workers are springing up everywhere.  Globalisation has meant an international community of youth workers, with more international conferences, policy conversations, research and ollaboration.  There are more books published on youth work, by major commercial publishers, than ever before.  Routledge has just commissioned a new series of books on youth work practice.  Sage has taken over the locally-published Learning Matters series.  For the first time, I can run a course for youth workers using a selection of books on youth work written by youth workers. This is mirrored in journal and on-line publication as well.  Youth work is moving beyond the parochial, and is recognising its common core beyond local expressions of it.  It is becoming an international profession.
And there is a bigger picture.  The modern category of youth is an artefact of modernisation itself.  At other times and in other places, young people were much more integrated intergenerationally, and had a clear role.  Modern industry required fewer workers, and more educated, literate and disciplined workers.  What happened was the quarantining of people by age into educational institutions, their isolation from the relations of production and from contact with adult social institutions and the subsequent emergence of a (now global) youth culture.  This creates a youth population which is significantly, but incompletely contained by the school and other educational institutions.  There are also key developmental processes around people becoming autonomous and self-directed which total institutions like the school are not good at facilitating.  Youth work exists in all modern societies, under whatever guise and however resourced, because it is socially necessary.  It emerged during the Industrial Revolution, and has a continuous presence ever since.
The industrialisation and modernisation process is spreading apace throughout the world: particularly in the new economic powerhouses: the  ‘BRICS’ countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa).  All of them have huge, underemployed youth populations, and are very aware of the political time bomb that involves.  In the next decade, all of them will need to make decisions about youth policy, and divert resources towards young people.  How youth work positions itself within that process remains to be seen.
Professor Sercombe is an experienced youth work practitioner, trainer, consultant, analyst, media commentator and researcher in the youth studies area.  He has primary experience in street-level youth work with homeless and street-present young people as well as a developed academic profile with expertise ranging from social policy analysis to adolescent development to professional ethics.  He has worked in urban settings as well as remote outback towns, with Aboriginal and mainstream young people, and across a range of methodologies. 
Not withstanding his current position in the university, Howard sees himself as first and foremost a youth worker, as he has for the last thirty years.  His current work is focuses on how youth workers can understand their role and their work, how conceptions of young people shape their practice, on the peculiar ethics of youth work as a profession, and how truth is created and translated between policy, research and practice.  He is also working on the implications of the adolescent brain research for our understanding of young people and the practice of youth work.  He rides a Yamaha 1200 VMax motorcycle with a sidecar, is married to broadcaster Helen Wolfenden, and has three sons.

UltimateYouthWorker

Aaron Garth is the Executive Director of Ultimate Youth Worker. Aaron has worked as a youth worker in a number of settings including local church, street drug and alcohol outreach, family services, residential care, local government and youth homelessness since 2003. Aaron is a regular speaker at camps, retreats, & youth work training events and is a dedicated to seeing a more professional youth sector in Australia. Aaron is a graduate of RMIT University and an alumnus of their youth work program. He lives in Melbourne with his wife Jennifer & their daughters Hope, Zoe and son Ezra.

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What will youth work look like in 2013?

Today I am stoked to continue our series with a guest post from one of the worlds most well known youth work professors. In this series we have heard from Shae and Stephen Pepper from youthworkinit.com and will continue to hear from some of the leading minds in youth work from throughout the world culminating in early 2013.
Today’s Guest Post is written by one of New York’s finest, Professor Dana Fusco. In over 20 years as a lecturer in youth work she has shaped the argument for youth services in the United States encompassing areas such as reflective practice, after school services and youth work in interdisciplinary teams. Dana has a BA in Psychology from SUNY at New Paltz and a Phd in Educational Psychology from CUNY Graduate Center. She also runs the facebook group Advancing Youth Work: Current Trends, Critical Questions
So Dana, what will youth work look like in 2013???

Dana Fusco, Professor, City University of New York, York College, United States

 In the United States, youth work is not a unified or singular practice; rather, it has been described, and still is, a family of practices (Baizerman, 1996[1]). That family provides, in the most ideal circumstance, a plethora of diverse opportunities for young people. What we, as youthwork practitioners hope is that the set of diverse experiences known as ‘youth work’ will help young people to live rich, healthy, and fulfilling lives now and into the future. Our praxis is grounded or contextualized in the actual, not theoretical, lives of young people; is responsive to their lived experiences, their hopes, their aspirations and dreams; and proclaims a participatory and democratic approach that supports youth voice and agency as a part of community engagement.
 
In the places where youth work looks like this in 2012, I suspect it will continue to do so in 2013. That said, there are some trends on the horizon that potentially put the family of youth work practices in jeopardy. If we think of youth work as a stew, then each practice is an important ingredient towards a ‘tasty’ and healthful creation. In the U.S., our stew seems a bit ‘soupy’ these days, with ‘critical’ and emancipatory forms of youth work being those most often removed or replaced. This trend was precipitated by several sociopolitical and economic factors, with the most direct consequence being the pressure for out-of-school, nonformal environments to link up to, connect with, and supplement school. The goal for those who hope to formalize out-of-school environment is that there is a collective impact towards meeting NCLB (No Child Left Behind) targets (standardized test scores in reading and math).
The trend of youth work moving towards formalized education began with the development of a billion dollar federal reserve for afterschool programs under the Clinton administration, known as 21st Century Community Learning grants. These grants had two contradictory consequences. On the one hand, they put into the public eye, the importance of afterschool environments, many of which at that time were the youth-club-in-community-center variety, and legitimized these spaces as critical for young people. On the flip side, those dollars came with “strings” to improve academic outcomes. Some community agencies with a strong history of local work with young people have maneuvered within the structure to work in participatory and emergent ways. Many have closed their doors. Those newer to the scene might be doing good educational and ‘youth development’ stuff after school, i.e., enrichment and project-based learning, but not youth work in the way we have known it.
This situation leaves us with two potential possibilities for the future of the field. First, we can name these afterschool practices as part of the family of youth work practice and accept them as such. Second, we can decide that this form of afterschool, which is geared towards ‘a priori’ academic outcomes, might be too predetermined and ritualistic to be considered youth work at all. If this is the case, we must not only define youth work by what it is not but by what it is – an emergent and relational form of workingwith young people that is community-based, participatory and responsive, or what I am now calling, critical youth work (CYW).
If we choose the second option it will be critical that we more clearly define the purpose and values of CYW. As I see it, CYW aims to co-create spaces with young people where they can lead and learn. In this formulation, youth work begins with young people’s concerns, interests, goals, and/or needs, and positions practitioners to construct a ‘use of self’ that creates a relational web of possibility. Then, in this conception of the future, it is the education of the youth worker that becomes increasingly pivotal.
In 2013, it is not only changes in youthwork practice that we must attend to but also changes in youthworkeducation (YoEd) In the U.S. we have seen an explosion in YoEd within higher education, a 900% increase over the past four years with most of these framed as ‘youth development.’ Conversely, in the U.K. and Australia, longstanding youthwork courses and degree programs have closed their doors including those found at Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in Australia, University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, and Manchester University. While the reasons for such closures have been couched in economic and enrollment terms, one wonders why Youth Work/Youth Studies then and not Latin or philosophy, which equally might enroll under five students each year. The lack of understanding among higher education administration about community-based youth work is partly to blame. The title itself, youth work, leans towards the vocational, not the liberal arts. In 2013, it is hard to predict where those who want to study youth work and youth studies in these countries will go. If they go into existing, related disciplines, e.g., social work, then youth work will too likely become case management; if they go into education, then youth work will become para-teaching. With such potential outcomes, an international community of youth workers and youth work educators is needed whether in the form of an association or something else in order to work towards saving/reclaiming and re-thinking the discipline of youth work. I believe today it is in our international community that we have collective power and bargaining to legitimize the work and the body of knowledge that we have co-created as a viable area of study and practice for working with young people.

In 2013, this would be something to aim for!

 
[1] Baizerman M. (1996). Youth work on the street. Community’s moral compact with its young people. Childhood, 3, 157-165.
 


For more than 20 years, Dana Fusco’s research has focused on youth work as a practice and a profession and has led to increased national and international recognition. Recently she was the keynote speaker at the History of Youth Work conference in Minnesota and presented at the International Conference on Youth Work and Youth Studies in Glasgow. She serves on a national panel of leaders in youth work, the Next Generation Coalition, has authored dozens of peer-reviewed articles and produced the documentary, “When School Is Not Enough.” Professor in Teacher Education at York College, CUNY, She received her Ph.D. in Education Psychology from the CUNY Graduate Center.
 
Dana is The Editor of the path-breaking book Advancing Youth Work: Current Trends, Critical Questions, which brings together an international list of contributors to collectively articulate a vision for the field of youth work. This book is a must have and is one we would recommend you all get. We did. You can buy it here.

 

UltimateYouthWorker

Aaron Garth is the Executive Director of Ultimate Youth Worker. Aaron has worked as a youth worker in a number of settings including local church, street drug and alcohol outreach, family services, residential care, local government and youth homelessness since 2003. Aaron is a regular speaker at camps, retreats, & youth work training events and is a dedicated to seeing a more professional youth sector in Australia. Aaron is a graduate of RMIT University and an alumnus of their youth work program. He lives in Melbourne with his wife Jennifer & their daughters Hope, Zoe and son Ezra.

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What will youth work look like in 2013???

Today it is my pleasure to kick off a series that will take us to mid January 2013. In this series we will hear from some of the leading minds in youth work from throughout the world as they answer the question, “What will youth work look like in 2013???”

Today’s Guest Post is written by one of our favourite your work blogging duo’s, Shae and Stephen Pepper. In their short time on the scene they have rocketed to the front page of Google with their amazing blog posts on everything from ‘games for youth groups’ to ‘how to run a retreat’ (check out their amazing book). They have also been our biggest supporters in the blogosphere by promoting us in their weekly top blog posts of the week.

So guys, what will youth work look like in 2013???

This post was written by Stephen & Shae Pepper of Youth Workin’ It.

When Aaron asked us to write about what we thought youth work would look like in 2013, my first thought was “probably not all that different to 2012!” As with any profession, change can be very slow as people are more comfortable with the status quo, rather than exploring new ideas that may not succeed.

Having said that, there are three areas that we think youth work will need to start focusing on from 2013 onwards:

University

 

Over the last 25 years, the cost of university education in the US has more than tripled, which has resulted in 1 in 11 people defaulting on their student loan repayments within two years of making payments.

Something has to give.

It’s unlikely that universities are going to willingly lower the cost of gaining a degree, which will mean that people will seek alternatives instead. The good thing for them is that alternatives are starting to take shape.

The Minerva Project is seeking to be a virtual Harvard, while charging tuition fees that are less than half the price of regular universities. Udacity is offering higher education for free. Khan Academy has delivered more than 200 million free lessons online. Codecademyis teaching people how to code for free.

All these initiatives are going to have two major results. One – fewer US students will go to university in its traditional format. Two – learning at the higher education level will become more freely available for everyone; not just in the US, but all over the world.

What does this mean for youth work?

Fewer university students means fewer young people in university towns. This will have an impact on youth work provision in those towns, potentially reducing the funding received from the local government for youth programs.

More young people will also continue living at home from the age of 18 instead of moving away to live at university. This will therefore change the demographics of non-university towns as well, as there will be more 18-21 year olds.

Youth workers – particularly youth pastors – will need to take this into account. Churches often lose young people once they turn 18 because they move away to university. If that’s not happening, it’s vital that they do more to incorporate these 18-21 year olds as part of their church community.

Unemployment

 
Youth unemployment is a massive problem all over the world. In the US, 17.1% of young people are unemployed but it’s far worse in other countries – 21% in the UK, 34.5% in Italy, 53% in Spain and 55% in Greece.

We’ve written on Youth Workin’ It in the past about why youth unemployment matters:

  • They’re unable to gain skills
  • It’s harder for young people to get a job longer term
  • The impact on their self-worth
  • The decrease in social mobility
  • Long-term societal issues


What does this mean for youth work?

 
Youth workers need to start doing more to help young people gain the skills they need to find employment. We’ve offered a few ideas for youth unemployment solutions, but the solutions will need to be tailored based on your local area.

Unemployed young people in Detroit may have grown up expecting to work on a production line building cars, but many of those opportunities have disappeared. Youth living in rural areas have different job opportunities to those in large cities. Youth in countries like Spain and Greece face even more challenging circumstances, seeing as they’re competing against so many other young people for jobs.

There’s sadly no magic solution to fix this problem – if there was, governments all over the world would have implemented it by now. Local youth workers are well placed though to offer programs that can help unemployed young people – check out Plantation Cafe Trading in Guildford, England for one initiative that helps youth gain landscape gardening skills that makes them more employable.

One positive thing is that it’s so much cheaper and easier for young people to set up their own businesses. They no longer need thousands of dollars to set up a business, as they can start their own website for less than $100 or use platforms like eBay or Etsy to earn an income.

This is especially helpful for students who are less academically capable, as they’re often the ones who are more gifted creatively. The low barrier to entry for new businesses is also enhanced by how easy it now is to reach a global audience.

Holistic youth work

 
Many youth work programs have a tendency to focus on one aspect of a young person’s life – physical OR emotional OR spiritual. Here in the US, the majority of youth work programming is done by and through churches, meaning that the emphasis tends to be on the spiritual.

We think it’s important that youthwork becomes more holistic, by focusing on the physical AND emotional AND spiritual lives of our young people.

The reason why youth workers need to pay much more attention to all three of these areas is that each one impacts the other:

  • Young people from low income households may have a hard time focusing at school simply because they’re hungry
  • For churches, youth who were abused by their Dad will have a hard time relating to God as their Father
  • Depressed young people can have physical symptoms, whether that manifests itself through illness or self-harm

What does this mean for youth work?

Youth workers don’t have to be an expert in all three of these areas. A sports coach doesn’t also have to be a child psychiatrist and youth pastor. A kids church helper doesn’t also have to be a nutritionist and counselor.

All youth workers do need to have an awareness of the interconnectedness of the physical, emotional and spiritual lives of youth though. Churches in low income areas could offer free meals at their youth programs. Community youth clubs could offer sex education classes. School counselors could try and get a depressed young person connected with a faith-based youth group (or even another social club) within a school, so that they have support from other young people of their age.

Youth workers should also be willing to partner with other organizations to ensure that all of these needs are met. There are many benefits to having partnerships in youth work, one of which is that far more can be achieved when skills and resources are combined than if you tried to address the needs all by yourself.

University. Unemployment. Holistic youth work. These are the three areas that we feel youth workers need to start focusing on more.

How about you? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

 

This post was written by Stephen & Shae Pepper of Youth Workin’ It. They blog about youth work 6 days a week and also offer consultancy, services and youth work resources for youth workers and organizations worldwide.

 

 

UltimateYouthWorker

Aaron Garth is the Executive Director of Ultimate Youth Worker. Aaron has worked as a youth worker in a number of settings including local church, street drug and alcohol outreach, family services, residential care, local government and youth homelessness since 2003. Aaron is a regular speaker at camps, retreats, & youth work training events and is a dedicated to seeing a more professional youth sector in Australia. Aaron is a graduate of RMIT University and an alumnus of their youth work program. He lives in Melbourne with his wife Jennifer & their daughters Hope, Zoe and son Ezra.

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Why youth worker’s need to embrace technology for professional development

Are we falling behind???
Are we becoming as obsolete as the home phone, the floppy disk or the hand held calculator???
Are we able to keep up with the rapid expansion of technology?
 
 
It used to be that if you needed your home stereo hooked up, your website developed or an email list for you group you could ask a youth worker and they would have an understanding of what to do…however rudimentary. However, over the past ten years I have seen an alarming trend towards a lack of technology use in youth work. Even worse, youth worker’s who do not have the skills to meet even the most basic of technological requirements.
 
 
 
A few years ago I was whimsically known in my organisation as ‘IT Support’. If any one in my team had an IT issue I was called in before we would call our organisations IT officer. How did I get this job you may be asking? Was it my years of study in IT? Perhaps because I was an avid gamer or computer nerd? conceivably, it was my years of university study where I used Microsoft Word on a daily basis. Actually, it was none of these! One day I helped my team leader to categorise and colour code her calendar. That is what made me the IT guru in my organisation.
 
Many of the ‘problems’ I was asked to fix in that team were pretty basic. As my wife says, it will ask you first if you really want to do something before you kill the machine. I fixed a few Word, Excel and PowerPoint issues and recovered a document or two, but nothing I would write home about. These skills were learnt by asking questions of people who knew more than me when I experienced those issues and then being able to remember what to do when it happened again. A small confession… I am the least tech savvy person in my friendship network.
 

With new technology coming onto the market every minute you would hope youth worker’s were at least keeping up, sadly if anything we are falling behind at an ever increasing speed.

 

Over the past few months I have read dozens of articles which lament the current situation and then implore people in the sector to embrace technology. Speaking of not-for-profit marketing Andy Lark, Chief Marketer for the Commonwealth Bank in Australia said Ten years ago, if someone had said there would one day be no more record stores or book stores, you wouldn’t have believed it. We will be the last generation to use a keyboard and a mouse. Technology is the force that changes everything.” Neelie Kroes, European Commission Vice President  said, Europeans are hungry for digital technologies and more digital choices, but governments and industry are not keeping up with them. Even former US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, believes technology is the way of the future and that if we do not take these innovations seriously we will be in trouble. So if some of the key thinkers in the world believe that we need to embrace technology then why are we as youth worker’s falling behind?
 
There are a few reasons we at Ultimate Youth Worker believe that as a sector we are falling behind:
  1. Our organisations. Organisational policies and procedures have become quite stringent as a knee-jerk reaction to possible legal and ethical issues which arise from the use of technology
  2. Technology is changing so fast it is hard to keep up. If you do not devote time to seeing what is out there you can not keep up to date.
  3. Technology costs money. I worked in an organisation two years ago that were still running windows ME on their computers which were ten years old!!!
  4. It is not seen as a priority compared to face to face interactions with young people. Every day in Australia young people aged 15 and over spend approximately two and a half hours on the Internet. That is more than they spend with me as their youth worker!

 

So if it is important to our interactions with young people we should learn a bit about it right???

 
I was recently given the unpublished results of a survey from the UK where youth workers were asked how they preferred to take on professional development. No surprises, we prefer face to face contact. The biggest surprise for me though was that using technology to gain professional development was ranked lowest of 18 possibile choices.  A cursory look at some of our social sector colleagues shows that their use of technology for professional development is expanding. The Australian Psychology Society and the National Association of Social Workers in the US provide great online training opportunities for their members however, the world across there is little for youth worker’s. This MUST change!!!
 

Here are a few reasons this can and should change.

  1. Web based training is cheaper than other forms available. If and average worker is on $20 and hour and they attend a half day seminar that goes for 4 hours it costs the organisation $80 before they even get there. lets say it is in a major city and your organisation is in the outer suburbs, roughly an hour each way by transport is another $40 in lost productivity. Train tickets or petrol =$$$. Then there is the cost of the training. Is it catered, add more money. The average half day seminar in Melbourne currently goes for around $120.
    • The equation looks a little like this:
      • Conference attendance/lost productivity = $80
      • Transport/lost productivity = $40
      • Transport costs = $???
      • Parking = $???
      • Seminar cost = $120
      • Catering = $???
        • Total cost =$240+transport
          • Same seminar done online =$200 (no transport costs, no catering etc.)
  2. It is easier to attend. If your seminar is from 10am-2pm you can get to work at 9am and spend an hour catching up on emails. at 2pm when the seminar finishes you grab a bit to eat and are back at your desk by 2:30pm (and you had a snack or two at your desk while you were at the seminar). All you need is a computer with Internet access and a headset with a mic. Also you can attend training on the otherside of the world with great trainers just by getting online…No need for a $1000 plane ticket.
  3. Online seminars provide handouts etc online. Whether you are at a webinar, listening to a podcast or watching a pre-recorded PowerPoint most providers also give you access so that you can go again and print/save documents for future reference.
  4. Your boss won’t think you are playing hooky. From our experience we have found that many bosses struggle with sending staff to PD because they have issues with trusting that you will be there the whole time and actually pay attention.  It is usually not because you have given them a reason but they are remembering what it was lie for them. If you are in your cube or office and you are visibly doing your training then there is no reason to doubt you.
  5.  
     
These are just a few of our thoughts, we know there are many more. Obviously we are biased. We write a blog for youth worker’s because of the lack of available professional development. We use social media including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Stumbleupon and Pintrest to further the networks and development opportunities for youth worker’s who want to become the best they can be. We believe that online is not only the best but the only way forward for us as a sector seeking excellent professional development.

To that end we wanted to let you know what we have been up to for the last couple of months and what it means for you our loyal readers. Recently we asked you to complete a survey for us (if you haven’t there is still time) this has cemented our ideas on professional development needs in the sector. We have been getting our heads around some technology to provide some opportunities for exceptional, inexpensive, online professional development for Ultimate Youth Worker’s (if you want to better yourself you are one!). We have also been writing up our training packages to support your needs.
 

So what does this mean for you as a youth worker?

 
In December we will be launching our first ever webinar to support youth worker’s to develop a self care plan. Stay tuned for a date closer to the event (hopefully first week in December).
 
 

In late January/early February we will be launching our podcast. We are currently recording and are getting some amazing guest hosts to provide inspirational and informative content to support you and your practice. Stay tuned for our official launch party!!! Its going to rock.
 
 

Of course we will also continue to provide our social network with challenges, inspiration and questions so please get on board and like, follow or pin us where you can, and PLEASE tell your friends and colleagues. This revolution in youth services support can only happen with your involvement and a swell of numbers.

Thank you for your support and encouragement so far. If there is anything we can do to support you please let us know.

Aaron

     
 
 
 





UltimateYouthWorker

Aaron Garth is the Executive Director of Ultimate Youth Worker. Aaron has worked as a youth worker in a number of settings including local church, street drug and alcohol outreach, family services, residential care, local government and youth homelessness since 2003. Aaron is a regular speaker at camps, retreats, & youth work training events and is a dedicated to seeing a more professional youth sector in Australia. Aaron is a graduate of RMIT University and an alumnus of their youth work program. He lives in Melbourne with his wife Jennifer & their daughters Hope, Zoe and son Ezra.

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Guest Post on youthworkinit.com

Our guest post is being published on The youthworkinit.com blog today – it’s an open look at the gap between youth worker’s and youth minister’s and the need for us to bridge it for the future of youth work. Feel free to post in the comments about how witty, insightful and amazing it is!!!
If you’ve come to Ultimate Youth Worker after already reading the post on youthworkinit.com  WELCOME!!! We hope you found it witty, insightful and amazing too!
We’re really glad you’ve come to check us out. Here’s a quick guide to us as a company:

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You should already be on our blog page, so you can scroll down and read some of our recent posts. To see older posts, there are a few ways of doing this:

  • Click on “older posts” at the bottom of this page
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  • Use the “blog archive” on the right

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Once again, thanks for visiting Ultimate Youth Worker! We hope you find some useful stuff on our blog. If you know any youth workers or youth pastors, we’d love for you to tell them about us – each week we provide a new post so keep on coming for more thoughts on youth work.

UltimateYouthWorker

Aaron Garth is the Executive Director of Ultimate Youth Worker. Aaron has worked as a youth worker in a number of settings including local church, street drug and alcohol outreach, family services, residential care, local government and youth homelessness since 2003. Aaron is a regular speaker at camps, retreats, & youth work training events and is a dedicated to seeing a more professional youth sector in Australia. Aaron is a graduate of RMIT University and an alumnus of their youth work program. He lives in Melbourne with his wife Jennifer & their daughters Hope, Zoe and son Ezra.

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Follow Me:
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