We live in a young world: children and young people (those aged 24 years and under) make up nearly 40 percent of the world’s population. The number of young people between the ages of 15 and 24 account for 18 percent of the global population. About 85 percent of the globe’s young people live in developing countries. Almost 240 million youth live on less than $1 a day and 462 million youth survive on less than $2 a day. About 133 million youth in the world are illiterate. 41 percent of the world’s unemployed are young people. This simply cannot be allowed to continue unchallenged.
According to USAID’s paper ‘State of the Field Report: Holistic, Cross-Sectoral Youth Development’ (Feb, 2013): ‘Youth need a range of opportunities to build and practice skills and competencies, including opportunities and supports for healthy development […] programs must be comprehensive preventative and positive’.
Youth work addresses these issues and provides an intervention at a critical stage in the transition to adulthood. This leads to greater personal development and social inclusion, offering pathways which alleviates poverty and reduces risk of falling into deeper poverty. Good youth work addresses sexual health, builds confidence and provides skills for leadership and good decision-making. All of which is necessary for combatting HIV/AIDS, empowering girls and increasing the capacity for gaining employment and community development.
At the crucial moment of transition to adulthood SERVE’s youth leadership programmes aim to prevent beneficiaries from falling into deeper poverty by helping them remain in education, increasing their decision-making skills, social network and accompanying supports. According to both the UNV’s 2011 paper ‘Youth Volunteering, Social Integration and Decent Work’, the NYA’s 2010 paper ‘Valuing Youth Work’ increased social networks derived from community engagement, informal education, good youth work and support from youth workers, combine to provide a significant advantage in gaining employment and reducing poverty. At the community level these projects open the space for sustainable development and cultivate the human resources necessary for achieving change in the long term.
From its inception in 2003 SERVE has been committed to working with young people to play a key role in the pursuit of international development. In particular SERVE has outlined as two of its fundamental aims:
- To contribute in the long term to the emergence of a youth sector that is a confident and enabled stakeholder in the pursuit of the development agenda.
- To resolutely implement and foster HIV/AIDS prevention and education programmes in SERVE’s youth work.
SERVE has and will continue to work to achieve these goals through the following interventions:
- Specific and prioritized commitment in the long term to the capacity development of the global youth sector.
- Professionally delivered leadership training of a substantial number of young people between the ages of 15–24;
- Provide life-saving HIV/AIDS prevention programmes to thousands of young people;
- Search for solutions to the enormous problem of youth unemployment that affects every nation.
SERVE in collaboration with Youth Link has produced a Global Youth Work Toolkit which underpins the training programmes offered by SERVE. The Toolkit includes youth work training to provide skills, methodologies and understanding of best practice and youth leadership training. This intervention fits in with SERVE’s comparative advantage and can provide real added value by transferring skills and expertise to the beneficiary community.
One of the key ways for SERVE to undertake these interventions is through robust well structured youth work. SERVE’s Global Youth Work Toolkit forms a key instrument in achieving the goals of our development agenda. Through the Global Youth Work Toolkit SERVE can continue to bring best practice in youth work across the island of Ireland and in our partner countries. The Toolkit provides a framework for working with our partners to develop their capacity to provide meaningful youth work. In addition, the Toolkit provides completed programmes for engaging with young people to build their leadership skills, assist in their personal and social development, and strengthen their resolve to engage positively in their community and country.