Recognising youth’s role in society

Danial Norjidi

Youth workers today face tough and ever-increasing demands, supporting a population burdened with multiplying and intensifying challenges of unemployment, the COVID-19 pandemic, conflict and climate change, especially due to the very nature of its core revolving around human rights and social justice.

As such, the Commonwealth Secretariat has put forward Youth Work Week, an initiative to recognise the contribution and responsibilities of youth workers and celebrate their achievements.

“From November 2-6, the Secretariat is inviting the Commonwealth countries to pause for a week to celebrate the achievements of youth workers,” said the agency.

Themed ‘Ambitious for Youth Work’, the Youth Work Week will provide an opportunity to explore strategies to improve support mechanisms for professionals and boost the impact of their work.

The Commonwealth Secretariat will also be teaming up with the Commonwealth Alliance of Youth Workers Associations (CAYWA) and the National Youth Agency (NYA) in the United Kingdom (UK).

CAYWA brings together national and regional organisations, and is the official voice of youth professional in the 52 member countries in the Commonwealth. Its current focus is on assisting youth workers’ of the Commonwealth to develop associations and progress the professionalisation of youth work globally.

NYA is a British national body for youth work, and it strives to find more inventive ways to empower young people by championing, professionalising and enabling youth work.

Together, the Commonwealth Secretariat, CAYWA and NYA aim to raise awareness of youth work, its principles, values and ethos, particularly concerning youth workers’ role during the global pandemic; build partnerships with youth workers associations and others in the sector; develop platforms for networking and promote the ambition for youth work; and advocate for enhanced commitments and investments to empower and engage youth workers.

The agency is set to fill the week with a wide range of activities, including a briefing for high commissioners, youth workers and youth work associations to discuss challenges and developments in the sector.

A collection and dissemination of cases studies of best practices in the field will also be put under the spotlight, featuring innovative solutions developed by youth workers, transnational collectives, young people and governments.

Another highlight will be the launch of the cutting-edge Commonwealth Youth Work Labs, an integrated platform for those in the sector to reflect and exchange solutions to specific challenges, on November 3 to “provide a dynamic space for sharing, innovating and co-creating within the youth work domain”, said the agency.

It added, “The labs will be organised as a monthly activity bringing youth workers, youth work associations, young people, practitioners and academics together to deliberate, brainstorm and co-create.”

The first lab will explore a set of inspiring and innovative games and projects for social change. Those innovations in the youth workspace will be deliberated for further adaptation and contextualisation through an interactive session.

There will be a lunch of a practitioners’ short course and web series to offer practical support to youth work associations.

The Online Course on Youth Work Practice on November 6 will be “a flexible yet deeply reflective and practical transformational learning journey for youth workers to strengthen youth-centric development in the Commonwealth”.

The agency aims to address some of the contextual needs of youth workers, youth work associations and youth-led organisations, through the course, by developing core competencies to design, lead and implement strategies for deepening youth intervention and engagement.

It will serve as an introduction to the online course scheduled to begin in January next year, taking the participants through the scope of the course and providing a teaser for the learning and leadership journeys.

Meanwhile, a social media campaign will run alongside the the array of activities to highlight the contribution of youth work towards national development.