The argument levelled at youth work as a profession and youth workers in particular that gets my goat the most is that we are untrained, unqualified yahoos who do more harm than good to the young people we work with. I have spent my career fighting this argument. Against social workers with four year degrees and psychologists with masters degrees a two year diploma at best seems trivial to other social services professions.
In the discussion of our brothers and sisters in the professionalisation camp many have stated that a degree should be the minimum qualification for youth workers. In Australia over 50% of youth workers have a Certificate IV or less. But as we have said before we believe that more than qualifications are required for Ultimate Youth Workers.
That being said we believe there are a lot of people passing youth work qualifications who should not have made it through. Over the summer we spoke with a number of youth work lecturers and teachers from Australia and across the world. In many of these discussions they lamented the calibre of students which were leaving their courses. Students who were doing the course as a stepping stone to something else. Students who were doing it to keep their welfare cheque coming in. Students who were not putting in effort in academic areas or in field placements.
As a teacher I tell my students that I have no compunction in failing them if they don’t make the grade. That I expect excellence in the classroom because I expect it in the sector. When students struggle I give them all the support available. If they still fail then thats it.
I have heard of a number of students who have been passed in their courses so that institutions can get the money available for graduating students. I have heard of lecturers and teachers passing students just to get them out of their classes. This type of behaviour needs to stop.
If we as a profession are to gain credibility in the community sector it must start in qualifying only those who meet our stringent standards. Minimum qualifications and coasting through need to be wiped out.