Many radical changes are taking place in this area of work and there is great demand for higher level professional skills.
As well as the specific subject knowledge gained from studying for an OU degree, you'll develop many transferable and work-related skills that are highly valued by employers and which will increase your employability.
The OU Careers Advisory Service defines student employability as: ‘A set of capabilities and achievements that support students in developing their careers, raising their aspirations and enhancing their contribution to society’.
Whatever your motivations for study, your goals and career aspirations, you are entitled to supported personal development planning either as an intrinsic part of your programme of study or through signposted optional activities. You can view the full Student Employability Policy Statement on our website.
For Childhood and Youth students the employability skills you will develop that are highly valued by employers include:
To see specific learning outcomes related to degrees in this area visit Study at the OU.
To check which skills valued by employers can be developed from studying a particular subject, look at the Student Employability Profiles on the Higher Education Academy website. You will also find information about employability skills developed through study of specific degree subjects on the Options with your subject pages on Prospects website.
In the UK many graduates enter employment where a degree in any subject would be acceptable. In this instance what they offer the employer is evidence of the range of competencies which have been developed through their academic study, rather than the specific subject content of their degree. This page will focus on careers directly related to childhood and youth, however, if you want to explore all of the choices open to you, also refer to the ‘Further Resources’ section.
Given the current economic climate and the increased competition for graduate jobs, it is important to consider a range of occupational areas. Bear in mind that many careers require further study, training and/or work experience beyond your degree.
We advise you to thoroughly research your career choices as early as possible, particularly in relation to experience required, differences that relate to where you live, or where the study choices you make may affect future opportunities.
You can enter a range of careers by taking a qualification in this subject area and there is a great demand for the knowledge and analytical skills developed in OU study. For example, you could find openings in the following career areas
*Note that if you want to teach, The Open University does not offer routes into teaching in the early years and primary age ranges. See getting into teaching.
You need to be aware that the BA (Hons) Childhood and Youth Studies and BA (Hons) Working with Young People are not qualification routes into teacher training. However some HEIs will consider the BA (Hons) Childhood and Youth Studies as an appropriate degree for entry into PGCE/PGDE Primary teacher training.
In England, as part of a commitment to a graduate led Early Years workforce, Early Years Professional Status (EYPS) was created for those working with children in the age range birth to five. The Government is on target to have an Early Years professional in all early years settings by 2015. The Dept for Education is responsible for the EYPS programme and queries about early years work can be submitted from their Contact us page.
In Scotland all workers in early education and child care need to register with the Scottish Social Services Council.
If you live in Ireland look at the relevant information on career sectors and jobs with your degree on the Gradireland website. The Career Directions website also provides individual career profiles. Also see the Community Exchange section of Active Link for jobs and voluntary opportunities in the not-for-profit sectors.
Use the Prospects website to explore career options related to this subject. Click on your subject to see examples of job roles and get information for further research. You may also find it useful to refer to the job profiles on the National Careers Service website, and do job searches under the keywords 'Children' and 'Youth'.
To find out about ways of gaining experience through volunteering, see our voluntary work pages. You can also make use of the searchable databases on the following websites:
Many graduates undertake further study on completion of their first degree and/or after gaining relevant work experience. Reasons for doing so include wanting to explore an aspect of their studies in more depth, to further or change their career, because a specific postgraduate qualification is either an entry requirement for their career of choice or would be an advantage if entry is competitive.
Postgraduate study related to Childhood and Youth can open up opportunities to work in higher education, social services, youth work, youth justice and the voluntary sector. Postgraduate study can also lead to opportunities to shape and influence future policy and practice within the childhood and youth sectors as managers, senior youth workers, consultants and senior positions within government departments at local, national and international level.
There are a range of childhood and youth related OU postgraduate study options, both taught and research awards, including courses that focus on Integrated and Critical Practice.
It is important to research further study options comprehensively by exploring the range of postgraduate courses and research opportunities on offer at the OU and elsewhere and funding possibilities to ensure you make the correct choice, for the right reasons and importantly that you can afford it, as funding for postgraduate study is very different to the undergraduate system.
Rigorous academic standards ensure that OU qualifications are recognised and valued by professional organisations and employers.
As an OU student, you can access the Employer Showcase to find out about some of the employers who are keen to recruit OU graduates. Those particularly relevant to Childhood and Youth students include:
Having relevant experience can be vital in gaining a competitive edge for jobs related to Childhood and Youth. The Employer Showcase also provides details of several organisations who offer volunteering and internship opportunities that might be of particular interest including:
Remember also that many employers recruit graduates from any discipline so there are others among the diverse range of companies on the Employer Showcase that you might consider.
One graduate employer, CGI, says this of OU students
They have got that unique skill set or background that perhaps our standard graduates don't have. They have thought about their career and how they're going to fit that in with the rest of their life as well. That's a very potent blend and already gives them a competitive advantage.
If you are a student you might want to see further advice from major employers on applications, the skills they require and the value of OU study. Go to our What employers say pages.
As an OU student you can also register for our online vacancy service and receive email notification about job opportunities.
There are a wealth of resources on the OU Careers website. You might want to watch the Guide to the careers site to help you get the most out of what it has to offer.
Use the other sections of this web site to
Don’t forget to check the careers home page regularly for news of events, forums, careers fairs and short courses. If you are an OU student you can participate in and read entries on our online forums.
If you are a mature student you may find our tips for mature graduates page useful to help you tackle the graduate employment market.
You may also find it useful to read the publications produced by the Careers Advisory Service and the specialist graduate careers organisation AGCAS, that provide further in-depth advice and information to help you plan your next careers steps.
For some graduates traditional forms of full-time employment are unattractive and increasing numbers of the workforce are turning to alternative ways of working that better fit their work and life values. Find out more about alternative work styles in the Exploring your career options section of the website.
If you are studying with the OU (or finished your studies within the last three years) you are entitled to a careers consultation with a careers adviser in your region or nation. This is designed to help you through the planning process and identify an action plan for your future. (If you are not studying with the OU or last studied with the OU more than 3 years ago, you should go to the Contact page of this website for other sources of careers advice.)
I sometimes feared my brain had seized up. The Open University helped to open it up again.
Sarah Witts, Classroom Assistant
To see the experiences of other OU students visit 'Student stories'.
All UK graduates are invited to complete the Destinations of Leavers Survey six months after they graduate. Of the OU graduates with a Childhood and Youth Studies degree who responded to the latest survey
90.6% were in work.