I don’t want to run the risk of repeating what most of us already know so let me try to be brief and that, as anyone who has heard me will know is likely to be a bit of a challenge.
Wherever we look the message is the same
Employers are no longer looking for compliance nor for employees who will just do a job. Arguably, there is no such thing as “just the job” any more. Changing technologies, aspirations, demands and structural changes in economies mean that jobs will change and we need workers who can adapt to that. The pressures that businesses and services are under also mean that we need employees who are flexible and can make a far wider contribution than would, traditionally, have been sought. We are looking for workers who can learn, who can contribute more widely and can help businesses to grow and services become more efficient. This creates demand for a broad skills base, for problem solving, creativity and a willingness to engage and contribute.
All of these points can be reinforced through reports from the OECD and consultants like McKinsey or, if you prefer, from a host of YouTube videos and seemingly endless succession of TED talks.
The big question for me is what this means for Youth Work.
The answer, from my standpoint is very straightforward. The demands of employment endorse the core values of Youth Work. These have always sought to build confidence in young people and to enrich their experience. The best Youth Work empowers young people, supporting them to devise activities, manage facilities and shape provision. It encourages young people to be active in meaningful ways in their communities; it battles against alienation, dependence and disadvantage. It helps young people to be more than they might be. It offers the possibility of them being contributors in work and in their communities. One can only hope that employers recognise its value.
Originally written for Youth Link Magazine