Wasting Time Article

The LAB (Living and Breathing) programme is a three-year youth work apprenticeship offered by the Territorial Youth Department. The LAB model sees experienced youth workers, called LAB facilitators, guide and support students through study and practical youthwork components. Applications are now open for the 2022 intake.

The facilitators work with the students to enable them to grow in core competencies of youth work over the course of their apprenticeship. The goal is for them to operate naturally within these competencies and graduate with a Salvation Army Certificate of Youth Work Training.

The programme is run out of corps and centres, called LAB Sites, and these are supported by corps officers and centre managers. The Salvation Army endeavours to train and equip youth workers to do life with young people in New Zealand. The youth of Aotearoa need leaders who will meet them where they are and make a positive impact in their lives.

There is education readily available for anyone who desires training and professional development in youth work. A LAB apprenticeship works alongside this education to grow youth workers to be competent and confident to make a long-term impact in Salvation Army corps, centres and communities around Aotearoa.


We asked some LAB grads and facilitators about their experience of LAB. Check out their answers below.

1.    Why did you apply to be a LAB student?

2.    What does being a LAB student look like?

3.    What has been your LAB highlight?

4.    How does LAB set you up for the future?

5.    What would you say to someone considering a career in youth work?


Jean Gailey | Graduate and LAB facilitator at Waitākere Corps

1.    I saw it as a good opportunity to upskill and learn more about how  I can be a better youth worker.

2.    I go to placement two days a week and am part of a youth team within the wider centre staff team. I attend retreats, youth camps and other Army events. I get supervision once a month and shadow an experienced youth worker and get opportunities to lead programmes.

3.    The experience and life-skills gained, also connecting with young people and other youth workers.

4.    You’re able to apply theory to the practice at ground level. You learn many things, not only in front of youth, but behind the scenes. You gain more confidence!

5.    Know your why! If you have a passion for young people, you will overcome the challenges and persevere. Be open-minded, true to yourself and what you have to offer. Be creative! Never stop learning and remember to self-care.


Ray Tuala | Third-year LAB student at Mt Albert Corps

1.    I was keen to get into youth work and LAB seemed like a cool way to get serious about  journeying with our rangatahi (youth).

2.    I was never alone when studying and always had a team to back me up and support me. 

3.    The opportunities and connections that I’ve been part of because of LAB, and meeting people who share a heart for seeing young people raised up has been awesome!

4.    It’s given me a strong foundation for my professional youth work journey. The formal study at Praxis (a youth development diploma) and learning opportunities offered through LAB, has constantly challenged me and given me chances to form complex understanding of youth work and also my faith. 

5.    Think, pray and meditate over it, because it isn’t an easy job, it doesn’t always pay the greatest and is quite tiring. However, if you want the world to be a better place, if you enjoy connecting with people, if you want to impact the next generation and create space where people can be their complete and authentic selves, then, yeah, go for it!


JD Douglas | LAB graduate from Central Youth Services

1.    Initially for the support of the Sallieswhilst studying. They provided what  I needed to get through, not only financial aid, but also in terms of my own spiritual journey—amazing mentors and peers to build whanaungatanga (relationships).

2.    I was a part of something, with a foundation to better conduct myself as a trainee youth worker. Thankfully, I have been a LAB student in three locations, which has given me a greater perspective on my journey.

3.    For me it has been the retreats and being able to connect with other like-minded people, who share a passion for building up our rangatahi (youth).  

4.    I've had a taste of what it is like to work within an organisation with different styles of leadership (not always aligned with my morals and beliefs), but just being able to push through that and seek better outcomes.

5.    To do so at your own capacity, ensure that you’ve got a strong support network behind you that can tautoko (support) your mahi (work), as well as taking necessary measures to ensure you’re conducting safe practice. Also, self-care … hugely important!


Kava Windsor | Second-year LAB student at Roskill Rec Centre

1.    I enjoy being in spaces with young people and so I applied to be a LAB student. It gave me the opportunity to work alongside rangatahi at a professional level.

2.    You have different networks/connections you can link up with, if you want to further your youth work or be a part of The Salvation Army family.

3.    The retreat, where we get to connect with other LAB students and organisations linked in with The Salvation Army. It’s so encouraging being part of a group where you share ideas with one another to better your work for the sake of rangatahi (youth).

4.    If you have a passion and deep care for young people, then LAB will help set you up for work with young people. I was able to apply to Praxis to further my studies in youth work. I was also able to begin my youth work experience by working in schools as a youth worker.

5.    If you love young people and you want to make a difference in their lives, then LAB is the place to help you get started.


James Adams | LAB graduate and LAB facilitator at Mt Albert Corps

1.    I was leaving high school and a  mentor asked me to apply. I experienced  deeply the value of having someone being intentional with me, and I wanted to stand in the gap for others. 

2.    You study youth work full time, and a significant part of this is unpacking practical youth work. The key part of LAB is the site and facilitator because the biggest issue for youth workers isn’t youth work, it’s the environment. LAB gives new youth workers structure and support to focus on what matters. 

3.    Being part of the Sallies, the culture of caring for others has always been important to me. Also, I developed skills and was trained to understand what is helpful and good practice, this has been massive. It shifts the impact beyond ‘care and pray’ to include understanding what makes a difference.

4.    Often youth workers don’t have the support to journey much longer than two years, or the organisation/leadership/funding shifts around them. LAB provides some stability and consistency for new youth workers. 

5.    Youth work is about lifting and enhancing mana in each young person. It’s about decolonising your thinking, recognising the impact you have on the world around you and putting others ahead of yourself. It costs—youth work requires you to give part of yourself. If you’re considering youth work, you should do it for the right reasons.


If you want to come on this exciting life-forming journey and become a LAB student, you can apply for our 2022 intake now. For more information about the LAB programme have a look at our brochure and application forms on the Youth Work Training page.