Examination of Witnesses (Question Numbers
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 theI can't call them cutsdestruction, and there
are so many proposals to get rid of youth services 100%.
Q271 Chair: How many? I am aware
Doug Nicholls: There are many
more than two, and I think I have listed some of them in supplementary
evidenceI 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 sectora 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 documentit 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 workersit
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
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
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
Doug Nicholls: I have already
indicated that key sectionsyouth work and play work, for
exampleface 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 sittingI represent across the work forcewe
are going to see a serious and unnecessary reduction in key skilled
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 outthat
provision is largely goingwe 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
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
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 researchnot only in youth work, but across all settingsis
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 skillswe are running
a programme at the moment, which is very popularand 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
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
forcewhether I like it or nothas 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-westDevonwhich
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 herehorses 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
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
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 livesmy 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
protectionismand 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 peoplewill 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
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
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
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 needsthose 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
Doug Nicholls: It is not entirely
the changes in higher education funding that are the current problemthey
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 practisethat
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
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
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.