The overall aim of the Youth Affairs Unit (YAU) is to support and promote non-formal education and developmental opportunities for young people through which they can enhance their personal and social skills and competencies. Particular regard is had to the youth work needs of young people between the ages of 10 and 21, and to those who are socially or economically disadvantaged.
Specifically the YAU work:
To develop youth policies and strategies that enable and enhance young people’s personal and social development
To support the youth sector in providing effective youth work and associated opportunities for young people and to consolidate and enhance existing provision of youth services and initiatives
To monitor and assess the youth work structures, supports and services so as to ensure both quality of service and value for money
To support the alignment of youth policies and services with other Departmental policies and services and the broader policy and services field to help ensure an integrated and coordinated approach to the needs of young people
To liaise with EU/Council of Europe on youth policy and the implementation of EU programmes for youth.
The above aims seek to provide greater definition and direction to the youth work and youth services. Youth work can be described as being educational and elective, structured and systematic. Youth work operates in various settings spanning the non-formal education through to informal education yet alongside formal education and engages young people from ten to twenty-four years of age, representing a significant period in both development and duration. It is also predicated on the voluntary participation of young people.
In addition, youth work can act as a support to young people, who may be both engaged and external to the formal education system, and as a point of contact and referral to other youth related services.