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Source: Weltec

WelTec is offering a level 6, two-year full-time diploma in Youth Work as the need for youth workers in New Zealand continues to rise.

“One of the biggest, and somewhat unknown knock-on effects we could face as a result of isolation due to COVID-19 is mental health impacts,” says Carmel Haggerty head of Whitireia & WelTec’s School of Health & Social Services. “Added to this will also likely be significant financial hardships for many.

“One in eight children in New Zealand already currently live in poverty and research shows these children are more vulnerable to mental health issues. The highest rates of suicide are in youth between 15-24 years, living in deprived areas, twice as high as those living in less deprived areas.

“The specialist youth work qualification we offer is aimed at those who want to help shape the future of New Zealand’s youth and help them thrive, and we will need these skills more than ever before,”says Ms Haggerty.

Youth workers do not require an industry registration meaning it is not necessary for students to do a three year degree to qualify. WelTec has therefore provided a more accessible route to support people to enter the field and the two-year full time diploma has replaced a three-year Degree course, which is currently being taught out. The diploma will ensure our graduates will meet the established industry competency standards for youth work.

The diploma is aimed at new entrants to the sector, those already employed but seeking qualifications, or those within health and wellbeing or social services who want to specialise in youth.

“Graduates will learn the skills and knowledge needed to support young people in their communities to identify and achieve their aspirations,” says Roger Ngahoroo, the Programme Manager Social Practice, Whitireia. “New Zealand desperately needs these graduates to quickly get to work quickly with a high degree of autonomy and contribute to improving outcomes for our youth.”

Neville Bartley, who graduated from the Youth Work programme in 2018 as a mature student, has been working in the sector for over 30 years following a career as an accountant and teacher, and now provides leadership to other youth workers and volunteers as the National Youth Ministry Leader for Scripture Union New Zealand, explains the growing needs for experienced youth workers:

“The issues our young people are facing are increasingly complex, levels of anxiety, lack of social connection, levels of financial stress – gone are the days when youth workers were simply volunteers with no formal training – what we need now are youth workers equipped with strategies for the people they are working with as well as for themselves. That is what a qualification provides. It also teaches the youth worker when to reach out to other experts for advice.

“Having worked in the sector for so long, I have seen it become increasingly fraught and we need well-rounded, and well trained youth workers, we also need to widen and deepen the pool of expertise to cope with the growing numbers of youth who require this specialist approach,” says Neville.

“It is quite different to social work, with youth work you really ‘walk alongside’ this vulnerable young person, you are their advocate and guide them to connect with further support services. So as a youth worker, you really need to understand a young and frightened person, but also how to navigate the plethora of social services available to that person.

“The youth work qualification also helps give credibility to the sector and those working in it,” says Neville.

Lisei Le’aupepe who will graduate from WelTec’s programme this year, has been quickly snapped up into employment by Nga Taiohi National Secure Youth Forensic Inpatient Mental Health Service in Porirua.

Nga Taiohi is a new, purpose-built, specialist, 10-bed unit at Kenepuru Hospital for the treatment of Rangatahi (young people) aged 13 to 17 who are severely affected by mental health, who have offended or are alleged to have offended, and who are involved in New Zealand’s youth justice system.

Lisei went to school in Newlands and competed nationally in netball, rugby and softball. Through her sport, Lisei understood the benefit of mentors and soon started mentoring youth around her. She also spent a year at Camp America working with young people.

Understanding the benefit of one-to-one support, and having enjoyed her time helping other young people, Lisei was guided by her parents to enrol for the Youth Work programme.

“I love what I do,” she says. “I love seeing someone get well, being part of their journey to that point, to help them focus on future goals, it is hugely satisfying. But it is also tough, and I am glad that I have had the guidance from tutors to know what to do in tricky situations.”

Roger Ngahoroo, the Programme Manager for social and youth work qualifications at WelTec explains the teaching approach to these specialist areas.

“The nature of these programmes means that we provide wrap around support to the students, we work with them to understand their stress points and to provide as much flexibility as possible in terms of delivering the course. This is because many of the students are mature  may have a family or are in employment. The fields of social are tough, and we need to retain and grow qualification rates – so we need to respond to each student as an individual to give them the best chance of finishing.”

Further information on the Diploma in Youth Work (Level 6)
The purpose of the New Zealand Diploma in Youth Work is to recreate, regenerate and transform youth work practice at a national level. The vision underpinning this purpose is to be the most desired youth work diploma in the Pacific producing outstanding graduates in youth work. New Zealand Diploma in Youth Work graduates leave the programme with the latest skills and knowledge pertaining to the youth development sector. Graduates will be able to work within a framework of youth development practice that is informed by Te Tiriti o Waitangi, Youth Work Codes of Ethics, the Youth Development Strategy Aotearoa, the nine core competencies for youth workers, and legislative requirements.

Graduates will be able to:
Integrate youth development theories and models of practice in order to respond to the needs and aspirations of young people from diverse contexts and cultures.
Apply safe, ethical and professional youth work practices to ensure the safety and wellbeing of young people engaging in youth development activities.
Provide young people with responsive and positive support informed by knowledge of the historical, socio-cultural, economic and political factors impacting them.
Select and apply a range of evidence-based practices informed by Te Tiriti o Waitangi and te ao Māori to support the aspirations of young people and build community connections.
Select and apply a range of evidence-based youth work models of practice, frameworks or strategies to support young people from diverse contexts and cultures.
Demonstrate leadership in a youth work and youth development context by leading and evaluating a youth development project.
Entry Requirements
NCEA level 3 or New Zealand Certificate in Study and Career Preparation (Level 3) or equivalent qualification/work experience
Evidence of suitability based on an interview, health screening, safety check and referee reports