10.5 Youth workers
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There is no legal regulation for the status of a youth worker in Ireland. Until recently, more emphasis has been placed on experience rather than qualifications when hiring youth workers. However, a recognised qualification in community development work is increasingly required for paid frontline workers in youth services/organisations.
Under the National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Acts 2012-2016, it is mandatory for people working with children (anyone under the age of 18) to be vetted by the Garda Síochána (police) National Vetting Bureau.
While a recognised qualification is not always necessary, a qualification in youth work, community development work or social work is often required for paid frontline workers in youth services/organisations. Other degrees that are commonly held by youth workers include degrees in anthropology, psychology, social sciences or sociology.
Postgraduate programmes in youth work are usually open to those with a primary degree, have appropriate Garda vetting and have relevant experience. Some postgraduate courses may also be accessed through the recognition of prior learning as an alternative to a primary degree.
Continuing professional development is available through courses, seminars and conferences. Organisations offering training for youth workers include the National Youth Council of Ireland, Youth Work Ireland and Léargas.
Under Erasmus+ (Key Action 1) youth workers can spend time abroad to build their life experience, learn about different cultures, improve their language and other skills and build on their professional development. These activities support the professional development of youth workers and the improvement of their youth work practice. Youth workers can learn about cultural diversity and different practices in youth work in other countries. Opportunities are available for youth workers involved in the personal, educational and social development of young people.