South Island’s new youth work qualification meets sector wishlist

16 November 2020

Leaders in the youth development sector are delighted that the University of Canterbury (UC) has responded to the need for more qualified youth workers...

  • Youth and community leadership

    A new specialisation in the Bachelor of Youth and Community Leadership will train future youth workers with the skills and experience they need.

Leaders in the youth development sector are delighted that the University of Canterbury (UC) has responded to the need for more qualified youth workers by co-developing a Youth Work specialty within UC’s new Bachelor of Youth and Community Leadership (BYCL) degree.

“We have needed a youth qualification in the South Island for a long time, so we are very excited,” says Zara Maslin, Korowai Tupu Manager at Ara Taiohi, the professional association for youth development in Aotearoa.

The demand for youth workers is increasing nationally, she says, and they need both the skills and experience to meet the unique challenges of helping young people to thrive. “To join the Korowai Tupu accreditation, youth workers need to show they are proficient at nine core competencies, so we worked with UC to make sure these were covered by the new pathway.”

After completing the BYCL degree specialising in Youth Work, graduates can gain professional membership with Korowai Tupu.

The Youth Work specialty offers a mix of academic rigour and practical community experience that makes it unique in Australasia, particularly as it is embedded in Christchurch’s recent history.

The BYCL was inspired by the UC Student Volunteer Army, which mobilised students to help the Christchurch community after the 2011 earthquake. Professor Billy Osteen then developed the CHCH101 Strengthening Communities through Social Innovation course, enabling students from all disciplines to earn credits for, and experience in, community engagement. And from the success of that course, the BCYL was developed.

Head of the School of Educational Studies and Leadership, Associate Professor Annelies Kamp, says the Youth Work specialisation is a new way of preparing students for the sector. “Being taught by academics who are experienced youth workers, in the context of an innovative university, in an entrepreneurial city, is a rare opportunity that I, as Head of School, feel honoured to host,” she says.

BYCL Programme leader Dr Christoph Teschers says he couldn’t wish for a better team. “Our team has expertise in youth work, youth development, critical youth studies, leadership, community engagement, peace education, youth and adolescent wellbeing, voluntarism and service learning, and global citizenship education to name only some of the areas our core team represents. I am particularly amazed by the vast level of personal experience members of our team have in directly working with youth and the youth and community sector.”

Dr Bernadette Farrell was a student leader as vice-president of Ireland ‘s national student union. She went on to work with young people from Serbian and Albanian communities to rebuild democracy and reform tertiary study in post-war Kosovo.

Iranian-German academic Dr Mahdis Azarmandi specialises in anti-racism and peace and conflict studies. She brings her experience from working at the International People’s College in Denmark, Humboldt University Berlin and DePauw University in the United States, as well as in the non-profit sector focusing on migrant rights and gender-based violence.

Also on the core team is Dr Hilary Dutton who helped to shape the core competencies when she worked with Ara Taiohi to contribute to Mana Taiohi, the new framework for youth development and youth work in Aotearoa New Zealand, while completing her PhD. She leads the research agenda for the BYCL at UC.

The core team is supported by specialist lecturers from across the university who teach into the BYCL. Students become part of a network of practice that encompasses the school, the university and the community.

“Students will study alongside other BYCL candidates who aspire to be social entrepreneurs, humanitarian workers and activists, as well as those who are designing a bespoke degree around their passions for social action,” Associate Professor Kamp says.

“Given the world in which we now live, the cross-disciplinary and transferrable skills acquired by these students, alongside the networks they will acquire through the social action that is embedded in the BYCL, will ensure they are youth workers with a difference.”

Supporting young people as they build their mana and find their voice, while helping them to navigate the multitude of challenges they are facing in this decade, requires youth workers to have strong emotional intelligence, ethical behaviour and an ability to constantly discover diverse ways to engage with their young people. The need for robust qualifications to support youth workers in developing these, among other skills, is more important than ever.

The BYCL was gifted with and is inspired by the whakatauki ‘Mātātahi tū, hapori ora’: When young people are strong, the community thrives.

More information:

The Bachelor of Youth and Community Leadership – a new qualification for a changing world.

The BYCL is a new degree, launched in 2020, unlike any other degree in Australasia. The degree develops professional leadership and entrepreneurial skills for anyone passionate about issues such as sustainability, human rights, equality, and humanitarian efforts. It equips graduates to be resilient and agile leaders in a changing world, qualified to lead themselves and others toward beneficial social change.

UC’s campus is now renowned for offering students the opportunity to engage in meaningful work in the community. The Youth and Community Leadership programmes offer real-world leadership opportunities and experience producing social action through UC’s networks and expertise.

The BYCL Youth Work specialty – meeting the sector’s needs

This is the only Korowai Tupu recognised pathway for Youth Workers in an Aotearoa New Zealand university degree qualification. The BYCL youth work and development specialty is for anyone wishing to make an impact in the lives of youth and their whanau. Youth workers support young people to improve their health, education, training and employment opportunities – helping young people build their mana, connect with others, find their voice and realise their dreams.

For further information please contact:

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