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Institute of Technology or Polytechnic

Otago Polytechnic
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New Zealand Diploma in Youth Work (Level 6)

This course is available

Online, On-Campus

Level of Study



2 years

Next start date



This qualification will prepare you for a career as a Youth Worker within Aotearoa New Zealand. You’ll learn skills and techniques to support young people (12-24 years) and their whanau by helping them to develop quality relationships and providing guidance on education, training and employment. Course work includes a series of work placements, one of which where you will lead and evaluate a youth development project.

Youth development is about promoting young peoples’ personal and social development and enabling them to have a voice, influence and place in their communities, as well as in society as a whole.

Our programme will prepare you to enter the workforce through a series of work placements. During one of these, you’ll lead and evaluate a youth development project. You’ll also build a network of contacts for when you graduate!

Your learning will prepare you for a career as a Youth Worker within Aotearoa New Zealand. Chances of getting a job are good due to the increasing demand for youth work services. And, with further training, youth workers can move into social work, counselling or teaching roles.

Other career options include Rangatahi Development Worker, Youth Advocate, Youth Facilitator, Youth Leader, Youth Pastor/Minister or a Youth Support Worker.

Our programme provides the training and education you need to ensure you meet the established industry competency standards for youth work.

You’ll graduate with the latest skills and knowledge about the youth development sector – understanding all about practices and resources that are useful for working with young people, youth culture and their communities, physical and mental health issues among youth, and laws and policies that affect young people.

During your study, you'll learn how to:

  • Integrate youth development theories and models of practice in order to respond to the needs and aspirations of young people from diverse cultures and contexts.
  • Apply safe, ethical, and professional youth work practices to ensure the safety and wellbeing of young people engaging in youth development activities.
  • Provide young people with responsive and positive support informed by knowledge of the historical, socio-cultural, economic, and political factors impacting them.
  • Select and apply a range of evidence-based practices informed by Te Tiriti o Waitangi and te ao Maori to support the aspirations of young people and build community connections.
  • Demonstrate leadership in a youth work and youth development context by leading and developing a youth development project.
  • Reflect on and evaluate your own youth work practice in a supervision context and engage in self-care to achieve continuous improvement in your own practice.

This programme has a great mix of learning activities. These include:

  • Classroom activities – lectures, tutorials, presentations
  • Information gathering
  • Online learning activities
  • Workplace learning through work placement
  • Guest speakers
  • Field trips
  • Project work

Further study options

To further your learning and practice, you could study the Bachelor of Youth Development at Weltec/Whitreia or the Bachelor of Youth and Community Leadership at the University of Canterbury.

Entry criteria

NCEA Level 3, New Zealand Certificate in Study and Career Preparation (Level 3) or equivalent qualification/work experience.

You’ll need to have an interview so we can make sure this programme is the right fit for you.

You’ll also need to complete a health screening, a safety check, and submit referee reports.

If English is not your first language, you must provide:

  • New Zealand University Entrance OR
  • Overall Academic IELTS 6.0 with no individual band score lower than 5.5 (achieved in one test completed in the last two years), OR
  • TOEFL Internet-based test (iBT) - Score of 60 (with a writing score of 18)
  • Cambridge English Qualifications - B2 First, or B2 First for schools, or C1 Advanced, or C2 Proficiency with a score of 169. No less than 162 in each skill
  • Pearson Test of English (Academic) - PTE (Academic) score of 50 with no band score lower than 42
  • LanguageCert - C1 Expert International ESOL Written (LRW) PASS with no less than 25/50 in each skill and Spoken (S) PASS

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