11 October 2010
Call for national standards in youth work education
Youth work educator, Michael Emslie.
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Youth work educator, Michael Emslie, has called for national higher education standards to be introduced to improve the provision of services for our community's young people.
"If Governments and universities are serious about improving the capacity of youth workers to support young people they will acknowledge the need for improving the expertise of those who work with them," Mr Emslie said.
"The education of this workforce is not regulated in the way other professions such as teachers and nurses are and there are no specific formal educational requirements among those who do this important work."
These shortcomings are in stark contrast with the wealth of professional educational services offered in the UK - long seen as a leader in youth work education.
Mr Emslie, who lectures in Youth Work in the School of Global Studies, Social Science and Planning at RMIT University, said: "If you compare the professional services and institutional support in the UK with what we have here in Australia, then we can immediately appreciate the ground that we need to make up."
There are currently four universities in Australia that offer undergraduate youth work degrees, three in Victoria. By contrast, 123 universities and colleges offer youth work undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in the UK.
This comparative lack of educational investment in the sector in Australia is reflected in the limited amount of higher education research on youth issues.
Mr Emslie has called for a creation of a set of national education standards and minimum qualification requirements of people working with young people.
"Ultimately, better outcomes for vulnerable young people will be achieved with the professionalisation of the youth work sector," Mr Emslie said.
Mr Emslie graduated from RMIT Youth Work in the early 1990s. He worked in the youth work sector, returning to RMIT in 2008 as a lecturer.