Youth Works was an initiative funded by the International Fund for Ireland, through the Sharing in Education Programme, and was managed by the Youth Council for Northern Ireland on behalf of the Department of Education.
A key purpose of the initiative was to illustrate the value and impact of a youth work approach to engaging young people not in education, training or employment and supporting them to gain recognised qualifications that would make a positive difference to their long term employment, education and training prospects.
Underpinning the youth work approach were three core themes which were embedded throughout each stage of the programme delivery cycle; Peace and reconciliation, Personal development, and One-to-one mentoring. Two other major themes were incorporated into the programme design as it developed; Parents and agencies and Employability.
Youth Works was designed as a 26 week programme, plus four weeks follow-up mentoring support and was delivered nine times from September 2011 to until it ended in December 2013.
The programme was evaluated by the Education and Training Inspectorate, and extracts from its June 2013 evaluation report are highlighted throughout the following sections. Whilst highlighting that many of the young people taking part would have benefitted from a programme lasting one year, the “Key message” of the report was that, “The youth work approach used to support and progress the young people was highly successful in raising their aspirations, and preparing them to engage in education, training or employment”.