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First Bachelor of Youth Development Degrees to be Awarded

First Bachelor of Youth Development Degrees to be Awarded at Auckland Ceremony - Graduating Pair Fast Tracked to Success

An opportunity to learn alongside leading practitioners in youth work was the catalyst for Wilson Chan to study on the Wellington Institute of Technology’s Bachelor of Youth Development degree.

“I made a conscience decision to always be willing to be shaped and moulded to become a better youth worker and person for the young people I journey with,” says Wilson Chan who is graduating tomorrow at the Viaduct Event Centre in Auckland alongside fellow student Michael Smith. Wilson and Michael are the first students in New Zealand to graduate with a Bachelor of Youth Development degree since the programme was launched by the Hon Anne Tolley former Minister of Education in August 2011.

Both graduates who work in the youth work field were able to fast track their degree as they already held diplomas in youth work. “This is exactly why the Bachelor of Youth Work was developed - to credentialise those working in the sector through the delivery of a qualification at degree level. The standard of care and service to youth will benefit by having people with degree qualifications working with young people,” says Linda Sissons Wellington Institute of Technology Chief Executive.

Michael Smith who up until recently was working for The Salvation Army believes it is very important for those working in the field of youth work to obtain qualifications. “This (Bachelor of Youth Development) is a niche offering. WelTec is the only organisation within New Zealand that provides a full degree in Youth Development. Other courses offer just a major. Study is hugely important for the future of youth work - it really is its own profession and a tricky one at that to define. People might call it social work or counselling, but youth work really reflects what it is all about.

“It’s also important to have an academic aspect to your career as a youth worker - the focus on academic writing for example offers greater credibility than what you’ll find elsewhere. This offering is on par with what you’d receive at university.

“I also believe in the profession of youth work and felt before enrolling that a degree in youth work would benefit the young people I work with. I didn’t choose this degree with a goal to differentiate myself within the market or become a ‘high roller’. This choice was more to do with my primary clients – the youth I work with. It also provided personal development and the opportunity to extend myself,” says Michael Smith.

Wilson Chan works for the Manurewa Baptist Church as a Youth Pastor. “Within my role, I facilitate a youth community and journey alongside young people and young adults in this weird thing called life. I have realised that when it comes to youth work there are three key aspects; heart, head and hands. All three are important in my practice to journey with young people. This degree has given me the head knowledge and language to reinforce my heart (my passion and philosophy) and my hands (practice) of youth work,” says Wilson Chen.

Bill Peace, Social Services Manager at STRIVE Community Trust in Auckland is a member of WelTec’s advisory committee for the Bachelor programme. “Having been a part of the initial development of the Bachelor of Youth Development it is very exciting to see our vision for degree qualified youth workers coming to fruition. The graduation is an opportunity to celebrate the hard work of these students and to recognise their journey to academic success,” says Bill Peace.

Background Information
Bachelor of Youth Development
• New Zealand’s first and only Bachelor Degree in Youth Development.
• There are estimated to be 3000 Youth Workers employed in New Zealand and many volunteers. The vast majority have no qualifications or only a certificate.
• The degree was a collaborative project between the youth sector, the former Social Services Industry Training Organisation and WelTec to meet the education needs of youth workers. It provides trained professionals who understand the development requirements of youth as a separate group to adults and children, and enable graduates to work across all social service areas to deliver specifically to youth.
• Graduates are well prepared for professional youth development practice and leadership roles within governmental, non-governmental, community and faith-based agencies including: youth support services, Iwi and Pacific community, youth health, school-based services, and specialist services such as drug use, mental health and sexual health services.
• The Degree is offered in Auckland and Wellington with intakes in February, July and November.
• The degree is designed to support students to apply their learning while working with youth, and is delivered by using a mix of online and face to face block teaching. The flexible nature of the programme allows for anyone around the country to undertake study.


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