10 Important Youth Worker Skills and Career Information

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 13 December 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Youth workers, also referred to as youth professionals or youth advocates, can play an important role in the lives of young people. Through careful guidance and support, youth workers can provide mentorship and informal education to young people. Understanding the key skills of a youth worker can help you decide if you want to pursue this career path. In this article, we explore 10 youth worker skills, explain the duties of a youth worker and answer some FAQs about youth workers.

10 youth worker skills

Here are 10 youth worker skills to consider developing if you're interested in this career path:

1. Patience

Patience is the act of restraint in emotion and action in the face of difficult situations or adversity. Being patient helps youth workers maintain a professional and calm demeanour. Youth professionals may also work with young people going through complicated personal issues. Maintaining a calm demeanour can help put clients at ease so they're more likely to listen to your guidance. You can consider developing your patience through practising relaxation and meditation exercises.

Related: What Is a Social Worker? (Definition and Types)

2. Strong communication skills

Youth advocates possess strong communication skills, including verbal and written communication skills. Active listening allows them to understand their clients' issues and needs. Being able to approach sensitive topics delicately, by choosing the right words to invoke trust, helps provide the right support for each clients' unique challenges.

Their duties may involve communicating through email and writing reports or other documents, which requires strong written communication skills and an understanding of how to use basic computer software like word processors.

3. Empathy and compassion

Empathy is being able to understand and share a person's feelings, whereas compassion is feeling sympathy for a person's suffering. Both are key skills for youth advocates because they may work with troubled youth experiencing personal and familial issues.

By practising empathy, youth advocates can better understand their clients' feelings. Showing compassion can help motivate clients to solve their issues. Both empathy and compassion help create a deeper sense of trust between a youth professional and their clients, which can make giving advice easier and more effective.

Related: How to Include Volunteer Experience in a CV (With Example)

4. Collaboration skills

Youth advocates often work as part of a larger team of psychology and social work professionals to provide support services. This can require strong collaboration and teamwork skills, which may involve depending on others for their expertise and guidance or providing your own. Actively collaborating with colleagues can help you form stronger professional relationships.

For example, if a youth professional encounters a unique problem with one of their clients, they might collaborate with a more senior colleague to create a better advocacy plan based on their experience. Working with others can help youth advocates focus on professional accountability and solving problems as part of a group.

5. Conflict resolution skills

Conflict resolution is an important skill for youth advocates because troubled youths may require help with specific conflicts in their lives. Reducing or avoiding conflict is often crucial to treatment plans for troubled youth. Youth advocates understand how to analyse a problem to create practical resolutions. They may utilise de-escalation tactics, positive language and redirection tactics to minimise conflict and help youths understand and control their emotions. They may also help young people create their own solutions and form better habits to prevent conflicts.

6. Computer skills

Youth service professionals typically work with basic computer software to perform their duties. Their duties may include creating and printing reports, submitting online forms to social services and communicating online with other professionals in the industry. This requires basic computer operation and troubleshooting knowledge.

Some organisations may also utilise proprietary software to handle clients. For example, an employer might utilise software for creating profiles for each client. Having basic computer skills can also help youth advocates teach their clients to use technology for job searches, research or to find support online.

7. Resilience

Youth professionals may encounter complex or difficult situations with their clients. Being mentally and physically fit helps them stay calm and focused during high-pressure situations. They can develop resilience to mental and physical fatigue by creating a strong routine. This might include healthy eating, good sleep patterns and adequate exercise. Developing good habits may also help youth advocates coach their clients on how to improve their health.

8. Integrity

Integrity is a skill that helps keep youth professionals accountable for their actions and act as a positive influence for their clients. Integrity is making moral decisions even when there aren't any people around to hold you accountable. Youth advisors show integrity by embodying the advice they provide for clients. Integrity can help strengthen the relationship between youth advocates and their clients by building trust between them.

Related: Common Questions Employers Ask When Interviewing a Social Worker

9. Humility

Being humble involves viewing yourself as equal to other people. Humility is an important skill for youth advocates because it helps them embrace opportunities to admit wrongdoing and grow and learn from their mistakes. This skill can help them connect more effectively with their clients because they may appear more relatable. By practising humility, advocates can set a good example for their clients, encouraging them to accept their own mistakes. Being humble also helps youth professionals reflect on their skill set and actively seek improvement.

10. Psychology skills

While employers generally don't require youth advocates to have expertise in psychology, many learn the fundamentals of mental health and illnesses and human behaviour to improve their qualifications. Knowledge of psychology can help youth advocates more effectively understand their clients' struggles and communicate with them about potential solutions.

For example, a youth advocate that understands depression from a psychological standpoint and from personal experience might offer better advice for a client struggling with the same condition. Some youth advocates pursue degrees in social work or psychology to better understand the social and mental challenges of their clients.

What are a youth advocate's core duties?

Youth advocates perform many duties, including:

Providing advice

Youth advocates provide advice for their clients on difficult situations or personal challenges. Their advice often comes from personal experience and professional knowledge. They also guide youth to develop their own solutions to their personal challenges.

Being a support figure

Youth professionals often serve as support figures for their clients, providing mental and emotional stability in times of crisis and happiness. For example, a youth advocate might talk with a client on the phone during a depressive episode or attend a client's basketball game to show their support for the client's hobby. Actively supporting clients can help you build stronger relationships with them.

Creating personal development plans

Advocates also help clients create personal development plans with set milestones, such as attaining certain grades in school. They help youth review their progress, edit their plans to better achieve goals and help manage any setbacks. Advocates might file development plans with social services or share them with parents and counsellors for collaboration.

Related: Top 10 Social Worker Skills (Plus Tips for Developing Them)

Working with counsellors or mental health professionals

Youth professionals also work with other counsellors or mental health professionals to collaborate on treatment options and ensure they're working towards the same goals. They might share and discuss their client's progress to seek feedback. Youth professionals can also consult psychologists or mental health experts for advice on challenging cases.

Building life skills

Youth advocates may help clients build important life skills like conflict resolution and practical skills like financial management. They help clients practise these skills in a safe environment and provide positive feedback to motivate them. Teaching youth core life skills can help them succeed on their own .

Youth advocate FAQs

Here are some frequently asked questions about youth advocates:

Do youth advocates work full-time?

Youth advocates typically work full-time. Some advocates work voluntarily after school or work. Schedules often depend on specific client or employer needs. They may also meet clients outside of scheduled visits to show their commitment.

Who employs youth advocates?

Social service organisations or government agencies typically employ youth advocates. Some schools may also hire youth professionals to support students. In addition, charities that focus on youth may seek the expertise of youth professionals.

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