Discover the power of youth work: a powerful, dynamic and versatile education practice that equips young people with the tools and support they need to reach their fullest potential.
What is youth work, exactly? Youth work is an informal education practice that supports young people’s social, emotional and educational development. Youth work can be adapted across a variety of settings, and typically engages with young people within their local community.
This could be at youth clubs and youth centres, youth cafes, community groups, uniformed and voluntary organisations, or youth action and participation groups. You might also find youth work at youth counselling units, drug and alcohol projects, at outdoor education centres, or on the streets via outreach programmes and detached youth work.
Youth work can also take place in schools, where youth workers are embedded within the school staff team, working to ensure young people are supported to achieve the best educational outcomes through higher levels of engagement, attendance and attainment.
Youth work promotes values of inclusion, mutual respect, equality and the involvement of young people in decision-making. It is about building relationships based on trust and shared understanding, and using the strength of these relationships to develop a person-centred approach to the development of young people.
The young person takes part voluntarily. They choose to be involved, not least because they want to relax, meet friends and have fun. The young person decides whether to engage or to walk away.
Youth work meets young people where they are at. The young person’s life experience is respected and forms the basis for shaping any agenda and development plan in partnership with peers and youth workers.
Youth work is an equal partnership. The young person is recognised as an active partner who can, and should, have opportunities and resources to shape their lives. The relationship and dialogue between the young person and youth worker is central to the learning process.
Our Statement on the Nature and Purpose of Youth Work outlines the key principles, definition and vision for youth work in Scotland.
By working as equal partners with young people, youth workers can bring young people’s ideas to life and help them achieve their fullest potential by giving them the tools, resources and support they need to thrive. By working in this way, youth work is uniquely placed to secure the best possible outcomes for young people:
To find out more about youth work outcomes, please refer to our Youth Work Outcomes & Skills Framework.
Youth work is a versatile and adaptable practice which aims to meet young people where they are at. As well as taking place in a wide variety of settings, youth work has a wide range of approaches:
To find out more about what qualifications you need to be a youth worker in Scotland, apprenticeships, youth work courses and other related career pathways, visit our Training & Development page. This is where you can also find information on National Occupation Standards for the sector, as well as the CLD Competent Practitioner Framework and the National Youth Work Induction Checklist.