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New Youth Work degree opens up possibilities to make a difference

Students in a queue

New youth work degree secures validation

A new youth work degree at the University of East London has secured validation from the National Youth Agency.

The new degree comes at a time when the University’s home borough – Newham – is proposing to spend an extra £4.5million to support children and young people, employing 40 extra youth workers and doubling youth club provision.

Richard Harty, Dean of the School of Education and Communities, said, “We’re pleased to be able to offer this new degree course that not only promises to create the foundation of a meaningful career but also provides a tried-and-tested route into work.

“Validation from the National Youth Agency confirms that students’ experience and knowledge will be relevant to the challenges of modern youth work and their skills will be highly valued by employers.”

In a statement in February, Newham Mayor Rokhsana Fiaz said, “At a time when austerity is forcing many local authorities to cut youth funding, Newham is bucking the trend. This new money was not easy to come by, but we have no choice, these young people are our future and must be our priority.” 

The University has extensive links with the local authority, providing placements and a path from study into employment.

Nigel Godfrey is senior lecturer in the youth and community work programme. He said, “This is an unsettling moment for people who are caught in the cross-currents of Covid-19, lockdown and economic concerns.

“Young people are likely to be particularly affected. Many struggle with challenges in their lives anyway, especially in Newham where child poverty levels are among the highest in the country.

“Our degree course puts candidates in the frontline, applying their academic studies to the lives of young people who may be disorientated by all this upheaval.

“The challenges may be immense, but so are the rewards – making a meaningful difference to young people and helping them to build the sort of lives they want for themselves.”

Kevin Jones of the National Youth Agency (NYA) said, “The NYA is committed to championing the role youth workers play as ‘trusted adults’ who support young people in navigating their way through, and contributing to, a society which all too often leaves them at the margins.

“Youth workers play a unique role in walking with young people through their discoveries, trials, relationships and negotiations as they try to make sense of the world and their place in it.”

Duncan James, 35, is studying for a master’s degree in youth and community at the University of East London.

He said, “I have seen the impact of my work with others manifest in different ways, some of which may seem small, but are nonetheless massive steps with some young people. Others I have seen completely turn their lives around.

“Our impact as youth workers can sometimes be felt in the moment or may take time. Sometimes you may never get to see the positive impact you have made, but even with the young people who have been the most difficult to engage with, I know that my presence has made a difference to their lives in some way.”

Gail May, director of Civic Engagement at the University of East London, said, “It is fantastic to see the launch of the Youth Work undergraduate programme. After many years of reducing youth provision we have seen new, innovative and exciting youth provision launched in our local boroughs with increased resource and a welcome focus on young people in our local communities.”

The course details

The BA (Hons) Youth Work is delivered within the School of Education and Communities which has a reputation for teaching excellence, industry connections and real-world relevance that appeals to applicants aspiring to make a difference in their communities and in the lives of young people.

As well as a blend of on campus and online learning, this vocational programme entails 800 hours of work-based learning. Significant time is spent on placement, where you will develop your skills and knowledge by undertaking supervised work with young people aged between 11 and 25 years old.

For more details on applying for the course, visit the University’s website.