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New Zealand Needs a Robust Youth Workforce

New Zealand Needs a Robust Youth Workforce, and that Needs Funding

There was a time when ‘youth worker’ was a profession treated with indifference. Today, the sector has grown-up and its role in society is recognised as indispensable. However, a group of leading New Zealand youth development organisations is warning there is an urgent need for government funding to provide the best and brightest with clear career paths, or we risk losing them.

The Alliance, representing the Foundation for Youth Development, YMCA and Youthline, say youth work is a specialist field with its own set of skills that are essential for working effectively with young people.

“A lack of a formal definition of roles within the youth sector in the past has meant the workforce has lacked resources, training and clear career paths. It has also created a perception that those who work with young people do not have an equal standing with other professionals,” says YMCA New Zealand CEO Ric Odom.

“However, these traditional views of working with young people are being replaced. There is a need for well resourced and skilled people in all professions who bring a passion, specific expertise and abilities to their work with young people.”

This requires a concerted effort at a political level, says the Alliance, which is calling upon government to allocate a core fund to assist with the specialised training of youth workers.

We all have an interest in positive outcomes for our young people, regardless of political belief. The Alliance believes parties from across the divide must prioritise funding for the training of youth workers, particularly at a tertiary level. Good youth workers are people we can’t afford to lose, says Mr. Odom.


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