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.

 

 

Aaron Garth

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, Esther, Niamh and son Ezra.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookLinkedInPinterestYouTube

Observe the C in DISC for youth worker’s

Over the last five weeks we have looked into the best tool we know of to help people build relationships with people the DISC behavioural profile. So far we have looked at three of the quadrents DOMINANCE, INFLUENCE and STEADINESS. This week in our ‘Thursday Think Tank’ we continue with the final quadrant in the profile and an overview of the CONSCIENTIOUSNESS behavioural style. People with this style are usually reserved and task focused.
 
 
Mr and Mrs facts and figures. People with high CONSCIENTIOUSNESS in the group are the epitome of dot your I’s and cross your T’s. They are slow to speak but when they do it is meticulous and ordered. They focus on task and process. They respect people who are precise and accurate. They often have a sterile work space. They are time conscious but not restrained by it. They are hard to read when it comes to body language and above all else want to be right! If these guys were a slogan they would be HTC: quietly briliant.
 
A person with a high level of CONSCIENTIOUSNESS in their profile is a rule follower. If there isn’t a rule they want one created. These people are usually polite and diplomatic. They will often communicate in writing over face-to-face. They do not focus on big picture but get down in the weeds, the detail. No abstracts or opinions here, They only discuss the facts. A high C can often get stuck in the old ways of doing things and systems of old and would rarely act without a precedent.

A high level of CONSCIENTIOUSNESS can lead to giving in to avoid conflict. They can be slow to act and do not see the forrest for the trees. They see the problems and can be critical of others. To make a decision these guys need every piece of information and every avenue of thought to be addressed… even then if there is any risk they may not act. They are thorough and persistent. They are matter-of-fact which can come accross as abrasive.

 

Here are our top seven tips for working with people with CONSCIENTIOUSNESS behavioural traits:

  1. Give clear expectations and deadlines: If you want a decision tell them that. Be clear about the time frame too. Don’t extend your timeline be clear that a decision needs to be made and when you want it done by.
  2. Show dependability: Let them know that you depend on their work and that they can depend on you to support them.
  3. Show loyalty: Back them whereevr you can. These guys don’t like conflict so will not argue with you if you go against them, they will just withdraw. If you can, Show them you are on their side.
  4. Be tactful and reserved: Even if you are going to go with another idea be supportive of them. They are not party animals so tone it down and focus on their knowledge and expertise.
  5. Honour precedents: If something has worked in the past and they bring it to your attention try to run with their idea. If there is a rule in place, even if it is unwritten, be aware and open to following it.
  6. Be precise and focused: this is similar to number one, however is more about how to do it. Do not leave any ambiguity. Be clear consice and if necesary say it twice. Set SMART goals and require them to report on their actions. Send your request in an email… they’ll love it.
  7. Value high standards: These guys expect perfection and then attempt to deliver it. When they want to have it perfect but you have a short timeframe express your thanks for their standards but explain the need for brevity. Hold it in high regard. Praise them for their effort. Let them know you still expect the highest possible quality within the timeframe.

 

 Some well known high CONSCIENTIOUSNESS behaviour holders you may know and have seen.

 
 
Colin Powell



 

 

Mr. Spock



 

 
Bill Gates



 

 
Kevin Rudd



 

 

Fred Hollows



 

 
James May

If you haven’t yet sign up for our newsletter to find out all the goings on at Ultimate Youth Worker. The form at the top right of this page is all you need to do.

 

 You can sign up to have our blog posts sent straight to your email by adding your email to the subscribe button on your right.

 


You can also leave us a comment below or post a comment on facebook and twitter.

 

 

Aaron Garth

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, Esther, Niamh and son Ezra.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookLinkedInPinterestYouTube

Youth Justice: Restoration or Retribution?

We asked our followers recently what they would like us to talk about on the blog and one topic stood out as a major one to start on… Youth Justice. Over the years I have had a number of jobs either in or supporting the youth justice system in Australia. I must confess I struggled working in the sector. Not because the young people are difficult (in fact they were some of the most responsive young people I have ever worked with), but because of the community perception and the subsequent policy directives. The young people I worked with often lacked direction, struggled with education and were wary of anyone who showed concern for their welfare. The community saw liars, thieves and violent offenders who should be hauled over the coals.
 
It is hard to ignore the crimes that some of  these young people have committed, and you know what we shouldn’t!!! These young people have been detained because of what they have done and will pay for their crime. However there are a couple of ways that this can happen depending on your point of view. Is detention there for retribution or restoration??? The young people did the crime and they should do the time. We believe that JUSTICE requires it. However, the question we should ask is what happens to them between the first day behind bars and their last day to develop them so that they do not continue back through the revolving door?
 
In the adult prison system, here in Victoria, there is over 50% likelihood that an offender who is jailed will return to prison within two years of release. A child of a prisoner is SIX times more likely to become an offender than their peers. A young person who is incarcerated will rarely complete secondary education. WHY???  The best answer we can come up with is that the system is a system that is geared toward retribution. We individualise the dimensions of the crime and remove the ideas of social justice from the rights of an offender and then ask them to change. We strip them of their humanity and then ask them to be humane. Crazy!!!
 
In many youth justice systems and support agencies here in Australia there has been a push towards more restorative practices. This has been met by mixed responses from the community. Governments are still stuck in limbo between retribution and restoration. To provide a measure of punishment for their crime, but to also provide opportunities to develop skills for post-release. The rise in victim-offender mediation and group conferencing has been amazing and the opportunities through NGO’s such as Whitelion and Jesuit Social Services to name a couple, for young people to gain employment and social skills has definitely changed the landscape.
 
But what does it all mean for us as youth workers??? Many writers have said that a core tenet of youth work is social justice. I ask whether we are being social just to the young people we incarcerate??? Earlier this year I spent some time in Tasmania visiting Port Arthur (if you ever get the chance you simply have to go). Port Arthur was one of the original penal colonies when the British began transporting convicts to Australia. In particular I was fascinated by Point Puer the first ever boys prison in the British empire. The punishments were severe and boys as young as nine were incarcerated there, however they also taught the boys some skills. Some became so skilled they were employed straight from detention to the detriment of other qualified tradesmen who hadn’t been incarcerated. Can you imagine if our incarcerated young people were taught trades in the same way??? Being taught excellence in your handy work. Being so highly sought after that you could walk out of detention and straight into a well paying job???
 
 

(A sample of the young boys handy work… It could hold over 1000 people.)


As a youth worker it is our responsibility to advocate for our young people. The current system still lets our young people down. We still have those who believe in retribution in positions of power in the youth justice system and we still have young people following in their adult counterparts footsteps… Dancing through the revolving door. There will always be crime as long as people are on the earth. How we deal with the crime is what is in question.
 
We believe in RESTORATION here at Ultimate Youth Worker. This does not mean being soft on crime, on the contrary. It does mean providing every opportunity for the young person to make something of themselves. To throw off the social, economic and cultural ties that bind them. To make amends and for them to be given the opportunity to live as free men and women. We believe that the best way to deal with crime is to deal with the social issues which lead to crime. We believe that the best way to deal with offenders is to develop them as whole people! To do this we need to address all the failings of society which led to their incarceration… and restore them to their community. Reflect on this:

Youth workers are facilitators of restoration not social controllers.”

If you take on the challenge to provide a restorative environment for young offenders then you may find yourself having to become a canny outlaw. It is hard to fight for whats right in the face of the easy way of following the rules. Our young people need you to speak for them. They need your actions and support. They need you to be practically wise. They need restoration.



 

For more info on restorative justice see Howard Zehr below.

 
 

What are your thoughts???

Leave us a comment below or post a comment on facebook and twitter.

 
 

Aaron Garth

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, Esther, Niamh and son Ezra.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookLinkedInPinterestYouTube