Youth work approach

This section of the resource will explore what youth work is in Scotland and look at the Youth Work Outcomes model which has been developed by the sector. 

What is Youth Work?

Youth Work is a recognised education practice.  In Scotland, there are 80,000 youth work practitioners, working to support and engage 385,000 young people every week in learning, social, and personal development.  This takes place in a range of settings, such as in school, youth centres, or outdoors; and is delivered by youth workers, many of whom are volunteers. 

Youth work in Scotland is characterised by three essential and definitive features:

  • Young people choose to participate - This means that the young person takes part voluntarily. They choose to be involved. The young person decides whether to engage or to walk away.
  • Youth work must build from where young people are - This means that youth work happens in young people’s own spaces, and on their terms. This could be within a specific geographic community or a community of interest. The young person's life experience is respected and forms the basis for shaping the agenda in negotiation with peers and youth
  • Youth Work recognises the young person and the youth worker as partners in a learning process - The young person is recognised as an active partner who can, and should, have opportunities and resources to shape their lives. The relationship and dialogue between the young person and the youth worker is central to the learning process. In youth work, the youth worker learns from the young person through this relationship.

For more information on what youth work is in Scotland, take a look at our statement on the nature and purpose of youth work

Youth Work Outcomes

YouthLink Scotland has supported the youth work sector in Scotland to develop a common framework of outcomes for young people through youth work.  These are outcomes which are a tool for self-evaluation and quality improvement.  They are supported by a suite of suggested indicators. 

Youth Awards

Youth work provides an opportunity for young people to learn and develop new skills and gain new experiences.  There are a range of youth awards which enable young people to have their learning and skills recognised.  Youth workers should reflect on their learning offer and consider if what the young people they are working with is doing could be recognised by a suitable Youth Award.  You can find out more about youth work and youth awards here on the Awards Network website


You might find the below resources useful when planning how to use the youth work outcomes in your youth-led heritage research. 

  • Participative Democracy Certificate

    Youth work is a learning process, and some young people may like the opportunity to gain accreditation (a youth award) which recognises what they have learnt or achieved. Find out more about the Participative Democracy Certificate and how young people can achieve it.

  • Using youth work as a means to support young people to engage with heritage

    This resource is focused on how youth work can provide a means to support young people to engage with their heritage.

  • The Competences Framework

    “The Competence Framework brings together the knowledge, skills and personal characteristics that make up competence in CLD practice. The Framework is used by practitioners, training providers and employers to reflect on, develop and strengthen practice.” - CLD Standards Council

  • Amazing Things 4: A Guide to Youth Awards in Scotland

    Produced by the Awards Network, Amazing Things highlights opportunities and potential of youth awards to support and recognise the achievements of young people.

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