The status of Youth work at international level

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Although the main focus of this study is on the South African context, it comprises a detailed analysis of the situations at international and regional level. The researcher sees the aim of this study as also targeted at contributing to debates on Youth work in these contexts. In this chapter, the researcher looks at the current status of Youth work at international, regional and national levels. This is crucial to the achievement of one of the objectives of this study, namely: to identify, explore and analyse the factors that contributed to the emergence of Youth work as a new field of practice in South Africa and to describe the scope and nature of services involved.
In light of the foregoing, the factors that led to evolution of Youth work are described in order to: understand the origin, assess the current status in relation to the influences of the past, and examine tasks that still need to be carried out in the present in order to determine the future (Kelly, 1990:168, 175; Lyon & Canning, 1990:187). Understanding the local and regional situations of youth is important and has implications for social and economic development in the world today (United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, 2011:9).


In this section, the researcher looks at the origin as well as the current state of Youth work internationally to ensure that whatever action is taken in South Africa is aligned to global trends. The international outlook is a consequence of a “borderless world” and “global village” for which youth are poised than ever before to participate in and benefit from (General Assembly Economic and Social Council, 2007:2; May & Powell, 2008:265).
The review of literature shows that, evolution of Youth work dates as far back as the nineteenth century and primarily came as a result of concerns over population trends that illustrated an increase of youth population at an increasing rate as compared to other population groupings. This trend was supported by complexity and uniqueness of the various problems facing youth such as unemployment and poverty, industrial revolution, urbanisation, immigration work with street children, and the changing nature of family life (Broadbent, 2006:52; Maunders, 2003:14; Ryan, 2003:53-54). This led to a collapse of traditional roles played by young people. It was the lack of replacement roles that reflected in panics about problems such as juvenile delinquency.
Of further interest is that, even though young people aged between 15 and 24 make up 25% of the global working age population, their share in total unemployment is 43.7% (General Assembly Economic and Social Council, 2007:13). All these factors led to a further key concern about the time youth spent outside work (National Research Council and Institute of Medicine, 2002:53; Ream & Witt in Hamilton & Hamilton, 2004:53).
Subsequent to that, there was a rise in the use of a youth development approach by professionals and volunteers working with young people on day to day basis in other settings and contexts other than schools. Those workers engaged young people in activities that focused on morality, welfare, recreation and leisure, thus causing a reaction amongst youth to debate and raise their voices at different fora (Encyclopaedia of Social Work, 1995:2561; Ream & Witt in Hamilton & Hamilton, 2004:xi; Ryan, 2003:52).
As the focus on youth development intensified, it resulted in evolution of youth development movements such as Salvation Army, Boys Brigade, Young Men‟s Christian Association, Girls guides, scouts; which derived their legitimacy from local communities (Commonwealth Secretariat, 2001d:13; Maunders, 2006:31). Those movements introduced youth focused interventions and programmes which were intended to protect the poor deprived youth and to organise their leisure and recreation activities in order to assist them to cope with the problems they were experiencing. The interventions were also intended to support increased allocation of human and financial resources for youth development (Jeffs & Smith, 1990:16; Maunders, 2006:21; Osei-Hwedie, Mwanza & Mufune, 1990:38). The activities run by the above stated movements were often informal and targeted children and youth who could not access formal education due to poverty. The increase in these movements saw intensive utilisation of a youth development approach by professionals in other disciplines as well as emergence of structured Youth work practice by workers dedicated to serving youth in a wide range of settings through individual and systemic change (Broadbent & Corney, 2008:20). This expansion from individuals to systems led workers to become involved with youth in settings such as:

  • Community Based Organisations, where activities are offered to young people during gap periods such as before and after school and also in weekends; and
  •  institutions like schools, where activities are offered to young people during structured times or schedules.

By the 1960s and 1970s, most governments in developed countries and many youth serving non-profit organisations, particularly religious ones that are still active today, took greater responsibility for the development of young people and became used as vehicles though which activities for young people were delivered (Commonwealth Secretariat, 2001a:5; Sercombe, 2010:31). The commitment and movement towards Youth work practice reached new heights when increasing emphasis was placed on activities such as organising the leisure and recreation activities of the working class adolescents by diverting them from the revolutionary politics (Jeffs & Smith, 1990:16; National Research Council and Institute of Medicine, 2002:53; Ream & Witt in Hamilton & Hamilton, 2004:53, 67).
To date, the Youth work field thus expanded to exist in a variety of settings and under different names, e.g., Youth work, Youth in development practice. The essential aspect is that, young people continue to be recipients of services rendered by wide range of service providers in variety of settings in government as well as civil society organisations and these youth are also being targeted exclusively by dedicated service providers (Benson & Pittman, 2001:94,135; Sercombe, 2010:10). This is necessary in view of world wide support and commitment to advance development of young people (Simmons, 2006:107). For example, the UN GA passed a Resolution that declared the year 1985 as International Year of Youth and also endorsed the guidelines for further planning and suitable follow up in the field of youth; the UN developed a World Programme of Action for Youth (WPAY) for the Year 2000 and beyond; the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have youth as their main target; Youth work have since spread as a model of practice in places such as Australia, Europe, USA and United Kingdom (UK); and the UN GA passed Resolution 64/134 proclaiming the year which started on the 12thof August 2010  to 12th  of August 2011 as the International Year of Youth in December 2009 (African Union Commission & United Nations Population Fund Agency, 2011:1, 3; Broadbent & Corney, 2008:15; Charles, 2006:55; General Assembly Economic and Social Council 2007:2; Krauss & Suandi, 2008:1; United Nations Economic Commission for Africa 2011:18).
The above stated key developments illustrate the manner in which international communities are engaged in daily revolution to respond to the increasing needs of young people by facilitating change, often with limited resources, support and infrastructure (Krauss & Suandi, 2008:3). Of more relevance to this study is actions related to the future of Youth work such as introduction of training programmes that culminated into formal Youth work qualification, establishment of professional associations, determination of professional standards and industrial conditions, development of a code of ethics and final recognition of Youth work as a registered profession (Association for Child and Youth Care Practice & Child and Youth Care Certification Board, 2010:1; Barnes & Bourdon in Anglin, Delholm, Ferguson & Pence, 1990:304; Roth, Brooks-Gunn, Murray & Foster, 1998:425; South African Qualification Authority, 2009a; South African Qualification Authority, 2009b).
At the moment, the education and training of Youth work at international level takes place in Europe, Asia, South America, Central America and the Caribbean, the South Pacific, USA, and UK. The countries involved in Youth work in these regions include: Canada, Germany, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Netherlands, Scotland, Wales and the Republic of Ireland, France, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Australia, New Zealand, Liechtenstein, Japan and China (Association for Child and Youth Care Practice & Child and Youth Care Certification Board, 2010:1; Broadbent & Corney, 2008:15; South African Qualification Authority Act 58 of 1995). For example, in Europe, the University of Malta facilitated establishment of an Institute of Youth Studies to provide a broad based academic course for those interested in working with young people professionally, across the USA, Youth work qualification at a degree level is being offered in universities such as Clemson University, Michigan State University, the Pennsylvania State University and the University of Minnesota (Borden, Craig & Villaruel, 2004:81; Malta Ministry of Youth and the Arts, 2010:8). South African Qualification Authority (SAQA) – a structure established to formulate and publish policies for education and training standards or qualification and to accredit bodies responsible for monitoring of such standards or qualification – documented that, whereas Youth work programmes are mostly taught by universities, at certificate/ diploma/ degree level in some countries. However, there are still countries that do not have specific Youth work qualifications in countries such as Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Greece, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Poland, Slovenia and Switzerland. In this case, workers with other related qualifications in areas such as Social pedagogy, Social work, and Cultural animation are employed to do Youth work (South African Qualification Authority, 2009a; South African Qualification Authority, 2009b).
It is important to note that the model for Youth work service provision in most countries is two pronged i.e. it is rendered by service providers exclusively responsible for youth, and also by service providers who target youth as part of their target groups (Broadbent & Corney, 2008: 15; Sercombe, 2010:82). This two-pronged approach is evidenced by establishment of structures such as Youth Ministries and agencies primarily targeting young people as well as mainstreaming of youth development in structures of other professionals such as Police, Social workers, Psychologists, Psychiatrists, Community development workers who target the youth and other client groups (Sercombe, 2010:82). For example, in countries such as the Netherlands and Malta, whereas there is evidence of close collaboration between service providers rendering youth services (e.g., Teachers, Sports coaches, and Counsellors), a separate Ministry and/or an agency that is only responsible for youth development is also in existence (Malta, Ministry of Youth and the Arts, 2010:8; Van Kampen, Beker & Wilbrink-Griffioen, 1996:14).



Available estimates show that in most African countries, including Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and Zambia, the youth and children constitute above or over 60% of the total population, with young people constituting about a third (30%) (African Union Commission & United Nations Population Fund Agenda, 2011:6; African Union Commission, 2010:2). The proportion of this youth population aged 15-35 is projected to peak at 35.6% of the total population by 2030 and despite sub-regional variations, the youth population in Africa will generally remain high by 2050 (United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, 2011:8).
The demographics in the Africa region clearly indicate that the youth population would continue to grow in absolute numbers. Therefore, addressing youth issues should remain salient for the African governments, particularly considering the fact that the majority of these youth account for the large share of the working population, and the hurdles they experience need to be attended to during their youth period before they enter adulthood (United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, 2009:15).
However, as a result of continuous challenges they experience, Africa‟s youth population does not have the opportunity to fully develop its potential and contribute effectively to the realisation of the declared vision and the mission of Africa‟s leaders as espoused by the African Union (AU). The AU mission aims „inter alia‟ to enhance Africa‟s leadership role in the promotion of peace, human security and good governance; and also to achieve the central goals of promoting positive change in our societies as espoused by the Commonwealth leaders (Shah, 2007:52).
The 2011 State of the African Youth Report revealed that, a new emergent and integrated Africa can be fully realised only if the bulging youth population is mobilised; equipped to help drive the integration, peace and development agenda; and recognised and utilised as an effective resource (African Union Commission & United Nations Population Fund Agency, 2011:1). This vision and commitment to address the needs of an increasing youth population, particularly in developing countries, emanates from the conviction that, in addressing national and global challenges, young people as a key population segment of the population need to be empowered, prioritised, and anchored to become strong and accountable leaders as well as an asset for development in the global arena (African Union Commission, 2010:2; Charles, 2006:46; United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, 2011:7, 8). It was also on that basis that Charles (2006:45)and Ryan (2003:65) asserted that, the surest approach to developing the human race is to target the youth sector, because they represent the future and therefore ignoring their plight could result in economic, social, and political catastrophe.

Key Concepts
1.1 Introduction
1.2 Situational analysis
1.3 Background
1.4 Motivation for the study
1.5 Problem statement
1.6 Significance of the study
1.7 Goal and Objectives of the research study
1.7.1 Goal
1.7.2 Objective
1.8 Underlying research questions
1.9 Summary of the research methodology
1.10 Ethical considerations
1.11 Limitations of the study
1.12 Definitions of key concepts
1.12.1 Youth or Young person
1.12.2 Development
1.12.3 Youth development
1.12.4 Youth work
1.12.5 Occupation
1.12.6 Profession
1.12.7 Professional
1.12.8 Professional practice
1.12.9 Professionalisation
1.12.10 Specialisation
1.12.11 Social Service
1.12.12 Child and youth care work
1.12.13 Social work
1.12.14 Educator
1.13 Outline of the content of the research report
2.1 Introduction
2.2 Theoretical Perspectives
2.2.1 Humanistic theory
2.2.2 Community youth development theory
2.2.3 Positive youth development theory
2.2.4 Social systems theory
2.2.6 Advocacy theory
2.3 Concluding Remarks
3.1 Introduction
3.2 The status of Youth work at international level
3.3 The status of Youth work at regional level
3.4 The status of Youth work at national level
3.5 Concluding Remarks
4.1 Introduction
4.2 Youth work as an occupation
4.3 Youth work as an area of specialisation
4.4 Youth work as an area of profession
4.5 Benefits and non-benefits of an occupation, area of specialisation and a profession
4.6 Concluding Remarks
5.1 Introduction
5.2 Research Approach
5.3 Type of Research
5.4 Research Design
5.5 Population, Sample and Sampling Methods
5.6 Qualitative Data Collection and Analysis
5.7 Quantitative Data Collection and Analysis
5.8 Concluding Remarks
6.1 Introduction
6.2 Qualitative findings
6.3 Quantitative results
6.4 Concluding Remarks
7.1 Introduction
7.2 Conclusions.
7.3 Recommendations.
7.4 Concluding Remarks

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