Services for young people - Education Committee Contents

Examination of Witnesses (Question Numbers 270-302)

Jane Haywood, Gill Millar, Doug and Adam Nichols

30 March 2011

  Q270 Chair: Good morning, and welcome to this session on services for young people. We have three panels today, which is a tight schedule, so I ask Committee members to be short, brief, succinct and to the point. I know that panellists of your distinction will automatically respond in that way, but I apologise in advance if I brutally cut you off as we try to get through and cover the issues that we want to talk about today.

  Tim Loughton, the Minister, said at the recent Positive for Youth summit, "The youth sector should have been reformed years ago." Is he right? Does the sector need to be weaned off its dependency on Government funds? Does it need a major push to change and improve?

  Adam Nichols: He is right. The sector has been far too dependent on state funding, and there are too many organisations. The current context provides a real opportunity for reform, and the sort of things we would like include a more mixed economy in funding terms, and more of a focus on the volunteer side of the work force, which we think is really important. I think that the Minister is right, and I think that there is a real opportunity.

  Doug Nicholls: The Minister is right and wrong all at once. We are in the middle of the most dramatic reforms in the youth work and youth service sector that we have experienced since the creation of the service in 1961. We very much welcome the formation of this Committee, but the carpet is being pulled from under your feet, because of the scale of the—I can't call them cuts—destruction, and there are so many proposals to get rid of youth services 100%.

  Q271 Chair: How many? I am aware of two.

  Doug Nicholls: There are many more than two, and I think I have listed some of them in supplementary evidence—I will send some more through. There are certainly more than two; I can think of six quite easily. Even in those areas that are being cut by only 75% or 50%, the effect will be to remove educational youth work provision so significantly as to render it meaningless.

  Just as a reminder, local authorities have never spent what the Government said should be spent on the youth service. The last figure that we have from 2008 of £316 million on the youth service in England is very small when we compare the number of people who come through with a positive alternative. We have asked the Minister, and we ask you, to take cognisance of the fact that by July nearly half the professional youth work force could disappear as a result of redundancies. That level of funding and support is not being replaced by any other source. State funding is indicative of a social commitment to young people, and there has never been enough of it.

  Gill Millar: I am not sure that the youth sector has stood still and suddenly needs reforming. For me, it has been in a state of gradual reformation for a long time. Successive Governments have had high expectations of what they wanted for their young people, and they have expected the youth sector to respond to that either through directives and investment, or by setting out what they want for young people and leaving it to the sector to decide how to do it.

  I don't think we're looking at a sector that is stuck in a particular way of doing things. An awful lot of good work goes on in the sector, and if we are reforming it again and further, let's build on that good stuff.

  Q272 Chair: Is there an urgent need for reform, Jane?

  Jane Haywood: The sector has always reformed, and it has always tried to respond to the condition that it is in, so we are in a different position than we might have been in three or four years. We now need to look at how we can deliver more effectively. Clearly the voluntary sector is the right place to go, and the use of volunteers is right.

  What is really important is that we remember that all young people, whether they are most disadvantaged or very privileged, will benefit, grow and develop from some form of youth work, so we need to think about how to ensure that as much provision as possible is available using all the resources that we have. Sometimes those resources are generous, and sometimes they are not.

  Q273 Craig Whittaker: Interestingly, 6 million people in England work in the work force, with 5.2 million of them primarily from the voluntary sector—a couple of you have said that the use of volunteers is the right way to go, and it is fair to say that we are probably on that track anyway. The Children's Workforce Development Council describes the work force as complex and fragmented. Just so we understand, who makes up the young people's work force, and is that distinct from the children's work force?

  Jane Haywood: I think you have seen the copy of the tangerine in our document—it depends on where you draw the circle. In terms of the young people's work force, you have people working in formal education, and then you have youth workers, family support workers, Connexions workers, guidance workers, youth justice workers and health workers—it is a very wide and varied group of people. Then you have a huge set of people who are operating in the voluntary sector, so the work force is very wide.

  Is the children's work force different from the young people's work force? I describe it as a continuum. The skills needed to work with children and young people, are about listening to children and young people, designing services that meet their needs, keeping them safe and working with parents and carers. As children and young people grow, how you work with them changes and adapts. What you do with a three or four-year-old is different from what you do with a 14 or 15-year-old developing their own autonomy and developing their independence from their parents. I think it is one work force with a common set of skills but, as they move forward, with the ability to work in different contexts.  

  Q274 Craig Whittaker: Is the Children's Workforce Development Council wrong when it says that the work force is fragmented and complex?

  Jane Haywood: It is fragmented and complex, because the work force sits in so many different places. That is not necessarily a bad thing if you can support that fragmented work force in different ways, starting from the Girl Guides on a Friday night and going right the way through to somebody working in a drugs project who is available 24/7. It is a huge spread. Their training and development needs will be different and the way in which they operate will be different, but within that, there will be some common skills. Because the work force is fragmented, communicating with it, supporting training and development and getting the system to work are much more complex than if you were working in education. In education, you know where your schools are, you know roughly what a teacher does and what a teacher teaches. It is much more complex in the youth sector.

  Adam Nichols: To back up what Jane said, one of the challenges is that a lot of people who are in the work force would not define themselves as being in the work force. If you turn up to run the Guide group or to coach football on a Saturday morning, you are doing it because you enjoy it and you want to support young people, and not because you view yourself as being a professional in any way, shape or form.

  Doug Nicholls: I am looking at the CWDC's state of the young people's work force report, which was published last year. It refers to 775,150 paid staff and about 5 million volunteers, and it breaks down the different occupational specialisms. Let me make a couple of observations about the youth work element of that, which involves 77,000 paid staff and 500,000 volunteers.

  The creation of the paid staff was a product of the voluntary sector and the volunteers themselves saying that this particular form of educational intervention with young people required a form of paid practice and professionalism. That was created by the first courses in 1945. We now have about 58 institutions running training for youth workers and that part of the work force is the oldest part of the young people's work force. They sought to consolidate themselves as a profession respecting the educational needs of young people and the need to support them and give them a voice. It is that part of the work force that is under the most pressure at the moment, and that has a direct impact on the ability to motivate and sustain the involvement of gifted, committed volunteers.

  A key element of youth work training is the motivation, recruitment and development of volunteers. As we know, most youth workers themselves come from voluntary effort. We are extremely concerned that the number of young volunteers will be reduced this year as key projects such as the Youth Action Network, which sought to encourage 400,000 volunteers, will literally be cut at the end of this month. We will see even fewer young people volunteering, because volunteers don't come out of the blue.

  Chair: We will come on to volunteers a bit later.

  Q275 Craig Whittaker: Doug, it seems fairly clear that the work force is very fragmented. Are you saying that change isn't good and that we should carry on the way we are going? That is the impression we are getting.

  Doug Nicholls: I have always been involved with change. As Gill indicated, the sector has responded consistently to the different needs of young people and the different policy initiatives of Government. I do not accept that it is a fragmented work force working with young people. A number of different specialisms have grown up at different points of history, and they involve different and equally valued forms of intervention with young people. It is important that people co-ordinate their work more. That is why the kind of youth work training that we get to ensure there is inter-agency work, which again is unique to the youth work training, is particularly important in this environment. Co-ordination is good, but the meltdown of different professional specialisms is not good, because young people consistently tell us that they value the different skilled professional interventions that they are involved with.

  Gill Millar: Change is an essential element of working with young people. Young people themselves are in a period of great transition and change in their lives. The workers working with them need to be very adaptive, responsive and so on. But if we are talking about the work force, it is important that, where we are changing, we build on what works, what is good and the skills that workers have that enable positive partnerships to be built and enable volunteers to play an appropriate role. We don't want to throw everything out and start from scratch, because there is a lot of really good stuff.

  Q276 Craig Whittaker: How might the composition of the work force change over the next few years as a result of the funding and the structural changes that are taking place?

  Doug Nicholls: I have already indicated that key sections—youth work and play work, for example—face so many redundancies at the moment that the skills that young people, Ofsted and local authority and voluntary sector employers say are important will disappear very rapidly. That is the scale of the difficulties that we currently face, coupled with some of the pressures on continuous professional development and initial training, too. So, regrettably, from where I am sitting—I represent across the work force—we are going to see a serious and unnecessary reduction in key skilled staff.

  Jane Haywood: We expect to see more volunteers and more people working in the voluntary sector, because the paid work face may sit in the statutory sector or the voluntary sector. We shouldn't get confused between paid people in the voluntary sector and volunteers. But we would expect to see more volunteers, and we would expect to see more paid people in the voluntary sector. The worry is that in the change process we are going through, the voluntary sector dips too much and is, therefore, unable to respond. It is difficult to tell at the moment how much of that is happening out there.

  Gill Millar: Local authorities play an essential role in keeping work with young people going in their areas. They either do that through direct provision or through contracting local voluntary organisations to do work on the ground with young people. Local authorities have obviously had significant cuts. In the south-west region, where I am based, we are seeing all local authorities cutting at least 20%, and in some cases 75%, from their services to young people.

  Q277 Chair: Who is cutting 75%?

  Gill Millar: Gloucestershire. Strictly speaking, Somerset is cutting 65%. There is more than one authority doing that. The reason for that are the priorities they are facing. Seeing that the priorities are child protection, safeguarding and so on, it tends to push interventions to those below the age of 11. Working with young people has taken a bigger hit. It is not only what they provide themselves that is being hit; it is what they ask voluntary sector organisations to do, too, because the money to fund those grants, awards and contracts is simply not there, either. We are seeing that as one trend.

  Another trend for the work force concerns what is left. In Gloucestershire, for example, where such an enormous reduction is being made, they are saying, "We're not going to provide open access provision. Our provision will be targeted at young people who have already been identified as having a particular need to be addressed." The work that staff are expected to do will change from providing open access areas and responding to young people's aspirations as they come along, to focused work with particular individuals. There are implications for work force development, because people who remain may be asked to do things other than what they were trained to do in the first place.

  Q278 Craig Whittaker: But is not early intervention and targeted provision better anyway?

  Gill Millar: It depends how it is done. You undoubtedly need targeted provision, but a good deal of what we describe as open access provision is targeted, because it is done in places and with communities where there will be a need and where that intervention will be necessary. One thing about open access youth work is that it is not stigmatised. People are not referred to a youth worker; they take part in youth work provision through that system and their needs are identified. The youth workers can either work with you, or they can refer you on. It is not like you are going to the place where the naughty boys go, and that is a significant factor. If we take that out—that provision is largely going—we will lose a big access route for young people to get more specialised services.

  Adam Nichols: Can I come back quickly on the original question about what is going to change? There is a danger that we see this in terms of the statutory and professional work force. The bulk of youth provision is not provided in those settings, so there will not be any change. Arguably this is an opportunity, and we are certainly viewing it as that. I do not dispute what other members of the panel have said about changes in those areas, but if you are the Scouts you will carry on delivering with a primarily volunteer-led model, just as you have always done. This measure will not make a huge amount of difference.

  Q279 Pat Glass: Can anyone work with young people, or is there something that is special or different about a qualified youth worker? What additionality does the qualified youth worker rely on?

  Adam Nichols: The simple answer is, yes, anyone can. I think it is more about values and ethos than about qualifications. At Changemakers, we look for people who are passionate about young people and who believe in young people's potential. We look for people who will engage with young people on an equal basis and who can facilitate and coach them. When I think about who is a good youth worker in the public eye at the moment, I think of someone like Jamie Oliver. He has consistently shown that he can do all those things with young people, but I don't think he has a youth worker qualification. There are lots of Jamie Olivers all over the country who have those kinds of beliefs and attitudes. There is sometimes a danger that we see qualifications as being a prerequisite, when actually the bulk of excellent young youth workers I know don't have qualifications at all, which is not to say that professionally qualified youth workers do not have those qualities.

  Q280 Pat Glass: When they are there, do they add additionality? Would you say that anyone can work with young people where there is a drug culture or a gun culture? Surely there are dangers in that.

  Adam Nichols: There are clearly specialisms involved in working with young people who have particular types of issues and challenges. I would call that content knowledge in terms of understanding problems and issues, and dealing with them effectively. Fundamentally, a false dichotomy is created between volunteers and professionals. I have seen professionals do fantastic work with young people in drug settings. Clearly, they have to be appropriately supported and trained, but the idea that someone—

  Chair: You said professionals. I think you meant non-professionals.

  Adam Nichols: Sorry, I meant volunteers. The idea that someone has to go to university and study for three years in order to do that effectively is not true.

  Jane Haywood: Anyone can work with young people. Adam's absolutely right that it's about values and it is about the way you work with young people. What we know from research—not only in youth work, but across all settings—is that when you train and skill people up, they can do that job better. You wouldn't have just anybody going in to teach a class, because you would want to be sure that they had the teaching and subject skills, and it is exactly the same in youth work. However, I run a voluntary organisation, and my whole setting is run with volunteers. In theory, I haven't got graduate leadership or a qualified youth worker, but my volunteers are teachers, nurses and teaching assistants. They bring a whole set of professional skills from another setting. So, yes, anybody can do it. Certainly, if you are in the Guides or the Brownies, we need you to know how to keep young people safe and be able to do that, as well as knowing what to do if you think they're not safe, and how to lead some really good activities. That is different if you're working with hard-end drug problems, for which you will need to know a lot more.

  What we also know from people who work in the sector is that they want training and skills—we are running a programme at the moment, which is very popular—and that they want that to be accredited. If you start with the people and what it is they're doing, what they want to do, and how they want to develop professionally, that is the best way to approach this. We mustn't think that volunteer equals amateur. I've been doing this for 30 years, and I am not an amateur. I do know, however, what I can do and when I need to refer to a skilled youth worker, or a skilled social worker. I know when I'm out of the range that I can deal with.

Gill Millar: I want to discuss the added value of a professional qualification, in that the qualification is a mark of having undertaken the training. I think Jamie Oliver is potentially a good youth worker. He is obviously naturally very good with young people and can motivate them, and so on. However, when I watch Jamie Oliver's programmes with young people, I think he misses opportunities. I don't think that he would miss them if he had had the chance to understand what he was doing in the context of broader education and policy, as well as the chance to develop the skills to be able to respond in particular ways and at particular times. He would have a deeper understanding and better range of skills at his disposal if he had done a professional youth work course. I have seen lots of very good youth workers, and I agree with Adam that you don't go into working with young people unless you actually like them and have a passion for working with them. I have seen lots of people come in and get better by undertaking training and gaining that qualification.

  Q281 Pat Glass: On additionality?

  Doug Nicholls: On additionality, the voluntary work force historically said that we need better levels of practice, we need to ensure that there are people who are doing this work full time, and that they should be equipped to do so. We have a work force made up of volunteers, part-time paid, and full-time professionals who dedicate their lives to the work. All three component parts of that unique workforce within youth work want to be skilled appropriate to the level of practice that they are delivering. If you are working one night a week, inevitably, the requirements on you are less than if you have made your career out of the profession. So, the additionality that the full-timers bring is to co-ordinate and bring the best thinking about informal education practice to bear on the voluntary staff that they work with in their teams, and on the part-time staff. They have a commitment to relationship-building with young people that it is not a product of character. It is a product of sophisticated learning about group work, child psychology and education theory, which is developed within the training courses for full-time and part-time workers. They bring that core of reliability and sustainable relationship-building with young people that you can only have if you are a full-time professional practitioner, who is there six or seven days a week.

  Q282 Pat Glass: Some people have argued that the professionalism of youth work over the last 20 years has been more about the conditions and pay of the work force than about the needs and rights of young people. Do you have a view on that?

  Doug Nicholls: I have a strong view about that because, if you look at it, the full-time work force—whether I like it or not—has not fallen over itself to argue for more pay. It is not a high-paid profession, as the statistics show.

  Q283 Chair: You have, but they have not. Is that it?

  Doug Nicholls: I have tried to, but the profession is dedicated and committed. Its first interest is the rights of young people and the entitlements of them. That is where it comes from. That is historically where this profession was created. So it is not by any means a greedy and protectionist profession. People would be in another area of work if they were that way inclined.

  Q284 Pat Glass: But they don't go into it for the money?

  Doug Nicholls: No, no. Some 68% of the students in qualification training are over the age of 21. They are mature, non-traditional entrants and they come from many years of voluntary experience and part-time paid experience. They recognise that in order to give the best to young people they need to upskill and get not necessarily a qualification, but skills, understandings and values to do the work better. So it is a very committed profession.

  Q285 Pat Glass: Gill, can I ask you about the balance of volunteers in the south-west and across the country. What do you think that balance should be?

  Gill Millar: It is obviously really difficult to get figures about volunteers. But let us consider one local authority in the south-west—Devon—which has recently done a survey on its staffing. Just within the local authority youth service, it discovered that there are more volunteers working than paid staff. If we scale that up, as Adam indicated, there are totally voluntary organisations and the voluntary organisations that have volunteers and a mix of paid staff. As the CWDC paper shows, there are substantially more volunteers than paid staff. There are also paid support staff and paid professional staff. Another authority in the region did some figures for me yesterday. They have 12 full-time professional staff working with 100 part-time support staff and volunteers as well.

  Q286 Pat Glass: Given the balance, we are talking about a largely volunteer staff. Is there anything we can learn from organisations such as the Scouts that rely upon a huge army of volunteers?

  Gill Millar: What I was just saying shows that there are volunteers right across the youth work force and certainly across the youth-work work force. It may be in the more specialist areas such as drugs advice and so on that the proportion of volunteers is less. What is needed and what exists in a number of places are progression routes that enable volunteers to come in and either choose to do what they do on their one or two nights a week, or to progress from that and do more complex work through pre-professional training level 2 and 3 qualifications and so on. We have seen that there is a real appetite for that in the south-west region and right across the country through the progress project, which is about providing accredited training for volunteers and the voluntary sector in the youth work force. Some 25,000 accredited learning opportunities have been made available and taken up in the past six months. There are progression routes into professional-level qualifications for those who want them.

  Q287 Chair: We are going to come to qualifications in a moment. The specific question was: what can we learn from large voluntary organisations such as the Scouts that receive no public money whatsoever.

  Adam Nichols: I think you can learn that you can run a highly excellent and massively-trusted-by-the-public youth organisation predominantly with volunteers. Doug said that you can only do this kind of stuff if you are a full-time professional practitioner, but I don't think that is the case. I suspect that if you asked the public which organisations they recognised and trusted, in terms of places where they would want their children and young people to be, the Scouts and those sorts of organisations would be right up there. They don't take any public money, and clearly they have a professional cadre of people who are doing the co-ordination, but most of that provision is run by volunteers.

  Q288 Pat Glass: Are we not talking about very different things here—horses for courses? There are groups of children who would do well and flourish in voluntary organisations such as the Scouts, but there are also children who have very complex, very serious issues. For those children, you need the more professional, specialist provision.

  Adam Nichols: There are targeted services, clearly, which need to exist, but if you look at something like the Scouts it is incredibly socially diverse.

  Q289 Pat Glass: And there would be dangers in the Scouts trying to get involved in things like that?

  Adam Nichols: I am not here to speak for the Scouts. I am not arguing that there is not a need for targeted, professional expertise and specialism, but I don't think that that necessarily has to be provided by full-time professionals.

  Gill Millar: But the Scouts and the Guides and all of those organisations provide accredited training for their work force, which is equivalent to the training in the non-volunteer world.

  Jane Haywood: The lessons are the same as those from my own organisation. You recruit people young, so you have got them before they realise that there is anything else that they can do with their lives—my children started at one month old. You make it fun and interesting, because the thing about volunteering is that you don't do it because you are a lovely person; you get something out of it, even if it is just the buzz of working with young people. You provide proper quality support and you provide training. Some of that training may well lead on to qualifications, but I couldn't run my set-up if I didn't invest in them as a group of people. That is exactly the same as you would do in a normal, working organisation: leadership of the people, support and direction. That is what the Scouts do. I think they probably take public money, because all of us small voluntary organisations are always whipping bids in here, there and everywhere, but it is not consistent, long-term money.

  Chair: I think they told us that they didn't, but it is pretty hard to avoid.

  Q290 Tessa Munt: I am going to ask you about the benefits, or not, of a minimum licence to practise in the youth sector.

  Adam Nichols: I don't see a benefit, particularly. I think that there are some dangers. You create artificial, unnecessary barriers to entry. You potentially create a false dichotomy between volunteers and paid staff, which I have already said I don't think is right. It could also be very expensive. In another life, I sit as a council member of the General Teaching Council, which has a similar kind of set-up for the teaching profession. The Government are in the process of abolishing it. It is an excellent organisation, but is a very expensive and quite bureaucratic process.

  I think it is more important to invest in proper training and development, as Jane has said, for all parts of the work force. This idea that we are going to create some kind of protectionism—and the idea, a bit like the safeguarding legislation, which basically takes as its assumption that everyone is a paedophile before they start, that if you are not licensed it is assumed that you are not capable of working with children and young people—will mean that a lot of people who currently volunteer would simply say, "Sorry, I'm not going to do that, so I'm not going to bother to do what I'm doing any more."

  Jane Haywood: A licence to practise that is voluntary and helps a practitioner to set out what their skills and qualifications are, which they can present to an employer, is a good thing. If you move beyond that, the complexities of running it, as Adam says, make it a much bigger ask.

  Q291 Tessa Munt: So it's a voluntary licence?

  Jane Haywood: A voluntary licence.

  Q292 Tessa Munt: But isn't that called interviewing people?

  Jane Haywood: It could be, yes.   

  Doug Nicholls: A number of people who have done terrible things have called themselves youth workers with absolutely no training qualification or relationship to the field of youth work. A very big issue about protection of children and young people is tied up with this. The views that Adam has expressed, as you will see from the submissions, are unique. There has been a long debate within the whole sector about the importance of getting some improved sense of licensing and regulation, bearing in mind the broad spectrum of the sector, and one simple size will not fit all. We have had a lot of discussions over the past couple of years about introducing systems that appreciate different levels of voluntary intervention, part-time workers' intervention and full-time practitioners.

  There are various forms of licence already: the training is validated, and most employers, particularly local authorities, will employ only Joint Negotiating Committee qualified staff; many voluntary organisations have their own ethical codes; and the National Youth Agency in the field has adopted an ethical code for youth work and so on.

  Q293 Tessa Munt: An ethical code is just—

  Doug Nicholls: Yes, but there is a spectrum of things. At the one end, there is the General Teaching Council's sort of absolute licence, which involves appeals if you are rejected, breaches of the licence and so on. At the other end, as in play work, there are passports to practice and different ways of ensuring that employers, the public and the work force have confidence that a particular individual is equipped to perform at the level at which they perform, particularly when we are talking about a sector where performance and intervention involves young lives. So an understanding of boundaries, power relationships and acceptable practice is essential.

  Q294 Tessa Munt: So you would say that it is absolutely critical that anyone whose work involves any form of contact with young people, whatever that may be, should have some sort of licence.

  Doug Nicholls: Particularly if they are to call themselves a youth worker, which, as yet, has no protection of title.

  Q295 Tessa Munt: A youth worker is not a profession, as such, is it? It covers a massive range.

  Doug Nicholls: It is for the 8,000 or so people who do it full time, and for those 3,000 or so currently on professional qualification training, who, when they come out and when they practise, will be at the centre of an organisation of volunteers and part-time staff in voluntary organisations and local authorities.

  Gill Millar: In many other areas of the work force, licensed practice has been used as a way of driving up standards and the quality of provision. In setting people up for youth work or, indeed, for wider work with young people, we need to make sure that we do not exclude unnecessarily. I would like a progressive licence to practise, perhaps similar to the Institute for Learning approach that has been taken with further education teaching, where there are recognised qualifications at different levels and there is a requirement to keep up continuous professional development alongside it in order to retain membership of an institute. I am quite attracted by that as a model of doing this. I think it is important to do it in order to ensure that the quality of what is provided remains good, because we are losing quite a lot of the ways in which we've checked that in the past.

  Q296 Tessa Munt: Looking at continuing professional development for the youth work force, is it sufficient?

  Gill Millar: At the moment, I think it's really patchy. Local authorities have focused on core issues for their overall children's work force such as safeguarding, assessment of young people's needs—those sorts of things. Employers and others have in-house provision. As a regional youth work unit, we do quite a lot of professional development events in the youth work field in the region, but it is non-accredited at the moment. I think there could be more accredited CPD, and more incentive for workers to undertake CPD. It needs to be done in ways and in places and at times that suit the work force. One of the problems that we have had with the youth-work work force in terms of accessing things such as generic safeguarding training is that it takes place on a Wednesday in the town hall, but they have other jobs then because they work in the evenings.

  Q297 Tessa Munt: Universities might stop offering youth work degrees because of the changes in higher education funding. Why should that be the case?

  Doug Nicholls: It is not entirely the changes in higher education funding that are the current problem—they are a problem, but that is not the whole picture. Youth and community work courses are professionally validated by volunteers through the National Youth Agency's education and training standards committee, which has standards for the operation of the courses. One of the requirements is that about 50% of field work practice is involved in the training, which is now at degree level, so a lot of placements are necessary. Those placements require skilled practitioners to supervise the students on the placements, and they require a massive amount of good will from the voluntary projects and local authorities that host them, because there is no funding for those placements for 50% of courses. And, of course, with students coming from non-traditional backgrounds, as they do in our particular sector, having to do 50% placement diminishes the time you can spend on part-time work, and fees are now likely to go up to about £8,000, on average, for youth work courses. So there are a number of pressures on the heart of the professional training, particularly relating to placements where there are simply not enough available and where the financial pressures on them are acute.

  We have been very successful in getting non-traditional entrants access into our sector, and that will clearly be changed by the fee system as well. Vocational training is quite a costly area for the universities, and our sector has never achieved HE funding comparable to teaching or social work training, which are the comparable professions. No additionality has been given to our courses in recognition of their high place-work element.

  CPD is in a woeful condition at the moment. I have the figures from 2008. It is a very small percentage of any local authority and voluntary sector budget for continuing professional development. That requirement, as with every other profession I can think of, would be integral to a licence to practise—that there should be a simple commitment to 5% or so of your time at work being CPD, so that the public can have confidence that you are up-skilled.

  Q298 Chair: If you haven't submitted that already, will you send us the figures on CPD? We would be grateful for that.

  Doug Nicholls: I will, yes.

  Adam Nichols: I think that the universities will respond to market demand. If employers and students want those qualifications, universities will offer them. As an employer, it is not something that we look at. I am not that interested in academic qualifications, whether they are for youth work or otherwise, when I employ people to work in my organisation. As I said earlier, it is the values, the attitudes, the beliefs and the philosophy that are the key thing. So from my perspective, it is not something that particularly drives recruitment decisions.

  Q299 Chair: Have you employed people with youth work degrees, or have you found that that has not provided sufficient additional value to make you prioritise it?

  Adam Nichols: We have and we do. I am not saying that they are not valuable, but it is not a great determinant in my experience.

  Jane Haywood: It would be a real shame if the youth work degree was no longer offered, but I think that universities will want to look at very different ways of delivering it to make it much more cost-effective, because of all the issues that Doug talked about. I also think that we should look at whether there is a broader degree on working with children and young people that allows specialisms, which makes it a much more attractive qualification for the person participating, because it opens up more doors than restricting them to one area.

  Q300 Chair: Very quickly, is there a case for a generic training qualification for volunteers, or should we rely on voluntary bodies' own systems? Adam, do you have any views on that?

  Adam Nichols: It would be expensive to develop. I think that it is unenforceable and that a lot of volunteers would not want to do it, so I would say no.

  Jane Haywood: We know from the Progress project that we funded that volunteers value training and want it to be accredited, but it should be driven by what they want to do. I think we can help voluntary organisations understand, through advice, what will be sensible things to do.

  Q301 Chair: Would that involve generic training or continuing with different bodies doing different things at different times?

  Jane Haywood: I am not sure that I understand the distinction you are making. I think that we need to say to the sector, "These are the skills you need to work in the voluntary sector, and these are the different ways you can get them," and then leave it to employers and the work force to pick and mix what meets their needs.

  Q302 Chair: I was thinking of volunteers in particular and whether you should use some expense and create generic—

  Jane Haywood: No, I don't think you should. And I don't think you should impose it, because I think that half my volunteers would walk if I said, "You have to do a qualification."

  Gill Millar: There already are generic volunteering qualifications. They are not necessarily in the youth sector, but there are awards in volunteering that a number of awarding bodies already offer. I have been involved in the Progress project that Jane just mentioned on training voluntary sector people. There is a real appetite there for accredited training, but I suspect the sector is too broad to be able to say that there is one award that will fit all. I suspect there might be a core on to which you build additional elements. The qualifications framework enables us to do that.

  Chair: Thank you all for giving evidence this morning. If there are any further points that you want to make, please do so. I look forward to hearing from you.

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