5 The youth services workforce |
Size and composition
92. The youth workforce is as diverse as the
range of services it supplies, encompassing a range of paid professionals
and volunteers, including young people themselves. Recent analysis
of the workforce by the Children's Workforce Development Council
(CWDC) found that it stood at over 6.2 million in England in April
2010, comprising 912,000 paid staff and the other 5.3 million
largest paid workforces were sport and recreation (363,000), children's
health (153,000), play work (110,000), creative and cultural industries
(93,000) and youth work (85,000). It should be noted that the
'youth work' category included youth workers, youth support workers,
and information, advice and guidance workers. The greatest concentrations
of volunteers were in sport and recreation (3.4 million), the
outdoors (1.15 million) and the youth voluntary sector (0.53 million).
However, the CWDC noted that data collection and reporting is
inconsistent, with different agencies often using incompatible
data sets, including some time-series data and some one-off data
collection; and it warned of gaps and double counting.
Since the term 'youth worker' is not a protected title and there
is no requirement to register or obtain a licence to practice,
there are no reliable national figures for the numbers of qualified
youth workers (either full time equivalent or part time).
93. Recruitment and retention difficulties reported
for youth and community workers employed by local authorities
fell between 2001 and 2009: in 2001 some 47% of local authorities
had difficulties recruiting nationally qualified workers, whereas
10% reported having difficulties recruiting in 2009. Over the
same period the proportion of authorities reporting retention
difficulties for youth and community workers fell from 20% of
authorities in 2001 to 3% in 2009. In terms of other youth services
staff, the vacancy data in 2010 showed a slight rise in overall
vacancy rate in youth justice (from 3.7% to 4.1%), and a marked
increase in notified vacancies for sports and leisure attendants
94. David Wright, Chief Executive of the Confederation
of Heads of Young People's Services (CHYPS), told the Committee
that its survey of local authorities at the start of 2011 had
found planned cuts of 10% in the workforce in the coming year.
This equated to around 3,000 local authority youth workers.
Doug Nicholls painted an even bleaker picture
of multiple redundancies, especially of youth workers: "by
July (2011) nearly half of the professional youth work force could
disappear as a result of redundancies".
Skills, qualifications and training
95. Requirements for initial qualification and
professional status as a youth worker have increased over recent
years. There are now two qualification levels for youth work:
the lower 'Youth and Community Support Worker' range and the 'Professional
Youth Worker' range. To qualify as a Youth and Community Support
Worker, individuals need to hold a Level 2 Certificate or Level
3 Diploma in Youth Work Practice. From September 2010 the minimum
entry requirement for the Professional Youth Worker range became
a BA degree from a university or college of higher education
validated by the National Youth Agency,
or the alternative postgraduate qualifications. Such awards are
currently offered by around 40 English universities and colleges,
under a range of titles including 'youth and community', 'community
and youth studies', childhood and youth studies', and 'informal
and community education'.
A move towards a more qualified youth workforce is mirrored elsewhere
in Europe: in Germany we found that the most common qualification
for youth workers was a Bachelor degree, whereas it had previously
been a diploma.
In terms of pay, the current (2009) professional youth worker
range minimum starting point is £20,591 as compared with
a median starting salary for new graduates of £27,000, and
an average public sector starting salary of £24,100 in the
same year. The
current (2009) Youth and Community Support Worker range starts
These pay levels and qualifications apply to youth workers employed
across all settings, not only those employed by local authorities.
96. It is hard to generalise about qualifications,
skills and pay levels of non-youth work professionals in the youth
workforce, since they are made up of a wide range of practitioners
with different qualifications and training. In addition, most
voluntary sector organisations have their own internal training
and accreditation systems for volunteers. The National Council
for Voluntary Youth Services and the Children's Workforce Development
Council recently jointly launched the Progress project
to provide 25,000 training places to workers in the voluntary
and community sector, provide bursaries to 30 voluntary sector
organisations to help them become accredited training providers,
and support 360 individual trainers.
97. The Department for Education told us that
it did not intend to take a view on workforce qualifications,
development or regulation, stating that "the Government believes
that the development and recruitment of both professionals and
volunteers is best addressed by professionals themselves and their
Amongst witnesses we found varied views about what the appropriate
mix of staff in the workforce should be. Many written submissions
focused on the particular value of professional youth workers.
For instance, TAG, the Professional Association of the Lecturers
in Youth and Community Work, argued that :
Central to an effective infrastructure of high quality
services are youth workers, who are educated and formed to initiate,
develop and support informal educative work with young people.
These workers also leverage the commitment and skills of a range
of part-time and volunteer workers.
Linda Jack, Youth Policy Adviser at the Consumer
Financial Education Body and previously a youth worker, identified
a view "that anyone can do youth work and thus diminish the
role of the professional youth worker ... Of course there will
always be a role for support and voluntary youth workers, but
if youth work is to be truly effective it needs excellent leadership
and a highly qualified workforce".
Gill Millar, Regional Youth Work Adviser at Learning South West,
told us that qualifications were "a mark of having undertaken
the training" which offered "the chance to develop the
skills to be able to respond in particular ways and at particular
Nicholls told us that:
the additionality that full time [youth workers]
bring is to coordinate and bring the best thinking about informal
education practice to bear on the voluntary staff that they work
with ... They have a commitment to relationship-building with
young people that 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.
98. In contrast, Changemakers, a charity which
aims to develop young people's leadership skills, argued against
further 'professionalisation' of the workforce, particularly of
youth work, and in favour of increasing numbers of volunteers:
"the real workforce development need in the sector is to
encourage more adult volunteers to get involved in delivering
activities for young people".
Its Chief Executive, Adam Nichols, argued that "there is
a danger that we see qualifications as being a prerequisite, when
actually the bulk of excellent youth workers I know don't have
qualifications at all", although he conceded that "there
are clearly specialisms in working with young people who have
particular types of issues and challenges".
Derek Twine, Chief Executive of The Scout Association, pointed
to the example of young people as proof of the potential for volunteers
in the workforce, saying "Rebecca and Meg as volunteers are
both offering something as powerful as someone who had been on
a particular so-called professional course. It is the training
and quality that matters, whether that is delivered by volunteers
or a college, whether you have letters after your name or not".
99. Ginny Lunn, Director of Policy and Development
at The Prince's Trust, sounded a note of caution about the scope
for using volunteers, noting that they were not necessarily a
'cheap' option: "volunteers cost money. It costs us £380
per volunteer to ensure they are properly trained and supported.
We need to get away from thinking that you can just bung volunteers
in to deliver something".
100. In reality the dividing line between volunteers
and professionals in the youth workforce is porous. It is common
for individuals to join an organisation as a volunteer, often
having previously been a service user (as in the case of several
of our young witnesses), and subsequently train as a youth worker.
A submission from Hollie Hutchings, a Youth and Community Worker,
stated that "most youth workers (like myself) usually start
their youth work career with volunteering and then with experience
start to get paid work".
Other submissions gave similar examples.
Charlotte Hill, Chief Executive of UK Youth, told us that "the
people who often become the best youth workers are the people
who have been volunteers themselves".
101. Many of our witnesses agreed that a blend
of professionals and volunteers was most desirable, led by youth
workers but harnessing the enthusiasm of volunteers. The Confederation
of Heads of Young People's Services (CHYPS) wrote that "for
volunteers, it is the relationship they have with professional
youth workers which ensures their success".
Fiona Blacke, Chief Executive of the National Youth Agency, noted
that "successive Ofsted inspections have shown that best
practice is where there are services strategically and professionally
managed by professionally trained staff".
Jason Stacey, Head of Policy, Media and Research at YMCA England,
also advocated "a mixture where you have the professionally
trained youth worker with volunteers to support them", but
warned that there were limits to the appropriate use of volunteers:
"in terms of the work that the YMCA does with some of the
most damaged young people and the support that is required of
them, I'm afraid it is really a lot to ask for that to fall on
Ginny Lunn added that "volunteers are really valuable ...
but we would never say that volunteers can take the place of the
workforce; they can add".
102. Volunteers are highly valued
and already much deployed across youth services and should continue
to be encouraged. The experience of The Scout Association, amongst
many others, shows the considerable potential for volunteers to
be trained effectively and form a core part of the workforce.
It is not, however, clear to what degree greater use of volunteers
is possible, since they already comprise a sizeable proportion
of the workforce87% according to analysis by the Children's
Workforce Development Counciland there are costs to their
training and support. However, additional barriers to their participation
should not be introduced, and in this context we welcome the Government's
pledge to scale back the bureaucratic nature of Criminal Record
103. Requirements for initial qualification and
professional status for youth workers have increased over recent
years. It is not clear to what extent this has been prompted by
a wish to regulate and professionalise youth work, and to what
extent to ensure that workers have key skills. We heard evidence
that trained and qualified youth workers brought skills and an
understanding of informal educational processes which less trained
staff might lack. We acknowledge
that the requirement to have a degree in order to acquire professional
youth worker status may have had positive effects in cementing
youth work as a profession. However, we are not aware of any
research that shows definitively that higher levels of qualifications
in youth work lead to better outcomes for young people, and it
was not clear to us why a degree should be the only route into
qualified youth work status. We believe that it would be timely
to review the knowledge and skills likely to be needed by youth
workers over the next decade and the range of initial training
and qualifications which would help to secure these.
104. We heard that there was little in the way
of continuing professional development for youth workers or other
staff. Doug Nicholls told us that "CPD is in a woeful condition"
and that, although the Joint Negotiating Committee terms and conditions
for youth workers recommended that 5% of local authority youth
service budgets be spent on CPD:
In the absence of a license to practice as in most
other professions there is no requirement to undertake in-service
training other than what good practice dictates ... most youth
work professionals have not been receiving any form of Continuing
Professional Development in their professional sphere for several
years. CPD was the first victim of rationalisation. The last recorded
figures are from the NYA [National Youth Agency] survey in 2008.
You will notice that some local authorities provided no in-service
training at all ... even if we take the figures as read, we see
that it was a spend less than half of the JNC recommended level.
According to the National Youth Agency audit in 2008,
47 out of 144 local authorities spend nothing at all on continuing
105. The low priority afforded
to continuing professional development of the youth workforce
is concerning, in particular the fact that, according to the last
audit conducted by the National Youth Agency in 2008, some 33%
of local authorities spent nothing at all on it, despite accredited
terms and conditions for youth workers recommending that it should
account for a minimum of 5% of local authority youth service budgets.
Investment in continuing professional development would be particularly
worthwhile in enabling practitioners to share good practice and
new ways of working between services. The Government must engage
with the questions about qualifications, training and continuing
professional development which we raise in this Report, and set
out how it intends positively to support the sector in its developing
Licence to practise
106. Unlike, say, teaching or social work, 'youth
work' is not a state-recognised occupation. As a consequence,
some have argued, parents and communities cannot necessarily be
confident that their young people are under the care of a 'fit
and proper person', even if they have passed criminal records
scrutiny. Doug Nicholls told us that "a number of people
who have done terrible things have called themselves youth workers
with absolutely no training qualification or relation to the field
of youth work".
Some suggested that one solution could be the creation of
a 'licence to practise', under which each youth organisation defined
what it regarded as appropriate skills for the work to be undertaken
by its personnel, including volunteers, but with some settings
(e.g. street-based work) requiring a professional youth
worker qualification. Doug Nicholls explained why a licence was
The term youth work is unprotected. This is irresponsible
and dangerous. Anyone can call themselves a youth worker. Urgent
attention must be given to a simple parliamentary proposal to
protect the title of Youth Worker for those working full time
in the field with the relevant JNC or CE VE endorsed qualification,
and the title Youth Support Worker for all those with the relevant
qualification. A licence to practise needs to be introduced to
provide registration and the recording of experience and qualification
appropriate to the different levels of operation of youth workers,
volunteers, part-time support workers and full time professionals
and advanced practitioners and officers.
107. However, Adam Nichols, Chief Executive of
Changemakers, disagreed, saying "I don't see a benefit, particularly.
You create artificial, unnecessary barriers to entry. You potentially
create a false dichotomy between volunteers and paid staff. It
could also be very expensive ... This idea that we are going to
create some kind of protectionism, 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 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'".
108. Others thought that a flexible model could
be found that would apply different requirements to different
staff. Gill Millar, Regional Youth Work Adviser at Learning South
West advocated "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 a requirement to keep up continuous professional
development alongside it in order to retain membership of an institute".
Jane Haywood, Chief Executive of the Children's Workforce Development
Council, thought that a voluntary, not mandatory, licence would
be useful. Mr
Nicholls acknowledged that one size would not fit all and there
were different possible models for a licence, which could allow
it to apply to "different levels of voluntary intervention,
part-time workers and full-time practitioners".
109. The Minister, Tim Loughton MP, believed
that there was "merit" in the idea of valuing youth
work more and that a licence to practise was "an interesting
idea" which he could see the principles behind. However,
he thought that "in practice, it could have unforeseen consequences.
I need to be very much more convinced on how it will improve the
quality and quantity of provision, rather than discourage people
from coming forward. Who would regulate it? Would there be a college?"
110. We did not hear sufficient
evidence to convince us of the merits or otherwise of introducing
a licence to practise for youth work, although we note that it
does seem rather odd that other professionals working with children
are subject to protection of title, when similar standards are
not applied to the youth workforce. A recent proposal by youth
organisations to establish an Institute for Youth Work which could
set minimum standards across the sector and promote continuing
professional development, is worth further consideration.
187 Children's Workforce Development Council (2010),
A picture worth millions: state of the Young People's
Workforce, p.9 Back
Ibid., p.6. The main gaps in data apply to the housing,
schools and education, social care and substance misuse sectors,
employment in the voluntary and private sectors and volunteers.
Data gaps particularly apply to age, disability, retention data,
specific qualifications, current training data and detailed pay
and benefits data Back
Ibid., p.10 Back
Q 233 Back
True scale of council youth service cuts revealed, Children
and Young People Now, 8 February 2011. Back
Q 271 Back
This change will not be applied retrospectively: all previously-gained
professional youth work qualifications at Foundation Degree and
Diploma of Higher Education level will continue to confer qualified
youth worker status. Back
National Youth Agency, Workforce and Training, Getting Qualified:
See Annex [Note of Berlin visit] Back
High Fliers Research, The Graduate Market in 2010, p.19.
Available at: http://www.ljmu.ac.uk/WoW/WOW_Docs/GM10Report.pdf
The Joint Negotiating Committee for Youth and Community Workers
(JNC) is the formal oversight body for youth work and has two
main functions: first, to set the national framework used to grade
and pay youth work jobs, agreeing salary scales and other terms
and conditions; and second, to endorse youth and community workers'
qualifications which have been professionally approved by the
Education and Training Standards (ETS) Committee of the National
Youth Agency. Organisations representing employers and organisations
representing staff sit on the JNC. Local authorities, and many
voluntary organisations, will usually employ only youth workers
with JNC-accredited qualifications Back
Ev 112 Back
Ev w196 Back
Ev w343 Back
Q 280 Back
Q 281 Back
Ev 172 Back
Qq 279-280 Back
Q 126 Back
Q 168 Back
Ev w4 Back
For instance, the Confederation of Heads of Young People's Services:
"[volunteering] is often a route into the profession that
adults begin as volunteers and continue to develop and grow into
paid employment as a support worker and then occasionally into
a professional role" [Ev 148]. See also Charlotte Hill, Q
Q 278 Back
Ev 148 Back
Q 81 Back
Q 126 Back
Q 168 Back
Ev 199 Back
Q 292 Back
Ev 200 Back
Q 290 Back
Q 295 Back
Q 290 Back
Q 292 Back
Q 486 Back