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How VU’s youth work industry upgrade gets you a degree without the fuss

15 June 2021 at 7:00 am
The program is one-of-a-kind in Australia and provides career progression opportunities.

Contributor | 15 June 2021 at 7:00 am


How VU’s youth work industry upgrade gets you a degree without the fuss
15 June 2021 at 7:00 am

The program is one-of-a-kind in Australia and provides career progression opportunities.

Victoria University’s (VU) industry upgrade program provides an opportunity for youth workers across the country, who have studied a diploma of youth work/community services or equivalent qualification and have at least three years’ work experience, to advance to a bachelor of youth work.

Why you should do the upgrade program

Due to policy and legislative changes, a minimum standard qualification of a degree level has been set in place across government and community agency employees in the youth work profession in many states in Australia.

VU’s youth work upgrade program ensures experienced youth workers can achieve their degree simply and efficiently, anywhere in Australia.

They can use their previous work experience for recognition of prior learning (RPL) while learning via our award-winning “block model” with units delivered in intensive interactive zoom sessions.

Unlike the standard university model where you juggle multiple subjects at once over a semester, with VU’s block model, you get to focus on one unit (subject) at a time, completing each unit over a four-week “block”.  

The online classes are delivered primarily by experienced youth workers, including specialist youth sociologists, AOD (alcohol and other drugs), disability, youth participation, community development, legal, residential care and criminal justice experts.

“Best decision I made”

Youth worker Mitch Rose from Sydney says undertaking the bachelor of youth work for industry students with VU was one of the best decisions he’s made.

“I never thought I would go to university. I had been working long term at an organisation based in Sydney and had done well there. I thought there was no point in studying a social work degree now, plus there are no youth work degrees in NSW,” Rose says.

Rose says he kept an eye on the job market and noticed more and more roles had a minimum requirement of a bachelor. When the opportunity came up to study block model, while still working full-time and getting RPL, it was too good to pass up. 

“The model of delivery, as well as the expertise of the teaching staff, meant my previous experiences as a youth worker were the foundations for the course. Being able to work full-time and complete a bachelor in just two years made it feasible and realistic,” he says.

Rose says his whole cohort gained a much deeper understanding of youth work practice and came through the other end politically charged and motivated to continue their advocacy and work with young people. 

“Many have gotten promotions, moved onto bigger and better things with new organisations. For me personally, I’ve continued down the academic path and am currently undertaking a master of research, looking to further contribute to our understanding of issues impacting youth,” he says.

“A supportive, inclusive environment… a great experience”

Youth worker Sam Kettlewell says her manager advised her to do the industry upgrade program. She felt she had hit a ceiling in her career and would not progress further without a degree.

“I was apprehensive and a little resentful,” Kettlewell says. “With the naive belief that after 15 years working in industry, I didn’t require a piece of paper to justify myself and my practice.”

Kettlewell says, when she started the program, the teacher said during orientation week that: “This degree will not only gain you more knowledge and understanding but aid you in establishing a framework for your practice, define you as a practitioner and give you a seat at the table.”

“And it has!” Kettlewell says. “I now have a clear understanding of my practice framework, the things that motivate me, it’s reinvigorated my passion for working and advocating for young people as the primary consideration within my work.

“The teachers are a breath of fresh air and industry experts and specialists who deliver the material in a raw and passionate capacity, inclusive of stories of engagement and interaction, with actual young people, not just textbook scenarios. It was a supportive, inclusive environment and a great experience.”

How you can take part

The VU youth work team are leaders in youth work research and education, as reflected in the VU bachelor of youth work being the only Australian youth work course to be professionally accredited by the National Youth Agency in the UK.

The industry upgrade program for the bachelor of youth work is unique and one-of-a-kind in Australia and provides career progression opportunities.

To learn how you can take part in the industry upgrade program contact or visit

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