A Network of Regional Youth Work Units, in England, collaborating across regions to promote good youth work and young people’s voices.
As you read this, a short consultation is beginning, to get the views of the field on proposed changes to the Level 2 and Level 3 Youth Work Practice qualifications. The current qualifications are approaching the end of their lifespan (though they will still be available into 2015), and the time has come to reflect on what we need from these qualifications in a changing youth work world.
There is no doubt that there is still strong demand for training and qualifications for youth workers at all levels. New people keep joining the workforce, whether as volunteers or as paid workers, and they are keen to develop their youth work repertoire. Local community organisations that find themselves managing youth work for the first time in decades know that they need skilled workers to provide the best possible offer for their young people, and seem to be willing to find money to subsidise the cost of training their youth workers.
Meanwhile, youth workers are being employed in organisations that work with young people, but don’t have a history of doing ‘youth work’ – housing associations, doctors’ surgeries, schools, churches and colleges, and they too are looking for training and qualifications to help them develop their youth work skills and knowledge. And despite the cuts, there are still youth workers in voluntary and local authority youth projects, providing an amazing array of opportunities for young people in their areas.
The current Level 2 and 3 qualifications were put together at a time when the main driver for work with young people was ‘integration’. Youth workers were increasingly working in multi-agency settings, doing targeted work with vulnerable young people, often on a one to one basis. Qualifications were also going down an integrated route, and we were encouraged to use units that related to other areas of work as part of our youth work qualifications. As a consequence of this environment, the youth work qualifications are made up of units, many of which come from different professional fields, and many don’t quite fit the settings where youth workers do their stuff.
Will it be better this time round? Well, there are definitely positive aspects: the review process has been led by the National Youth Agency, along with Wales Education & Training Standards Committee and NCVYS, so the youth work sector is at the heart of design. Also, the field are getting a chance to have a say in the composition of the qualifications, along with training providers and awarding organisations. The focus is much more about youth work as an educational process, emphasising the importance of group work as a key tool for youth work.
The proposed qualification structure is different too, taking into account feedback about the length and relevance of qualifications, and the need for accessible pathways from Level 2 to 3 to higher level professional qualifications. The suggestion of a common baseline Award that both Level 2 and Level 3 learners have to complete will help to ensure that even if people can only do one qualification, it will include the basic requirements for youth work, from which they can build their skills at the level relevant to their work role and their own capacity.
I’m sure there will be a lot of debate about the new proposals, and the more people who contribute, the better the final version will be. The consultation proposals can be found (insert link) and views are welcome by 30 July 2014.
Have your say and help shape the youth work workforce for the next five years!
Regional Youth Work at Learning South West
Image credit: hvaldez1