The Youth Service in Wales refers to the framework by which youth work is delivered and is done through the local authority, major voluntary youth organisations and through independent local projects.
Youth work involves the education and development, both social and personal, of young people aged between 11 and 25 years (particularly those aged 13 to 19 years) and is delivered in a variety of settings including youth clubs, residential settings, in information, advice and counselling centres, on the streets and in various public locations where young people meet and through special issue-based projects etc.
Youth work is a distinct profession with its own qualifications framework and national occupational standards (NOS), with local authority provision dating from the 1930’s and has an important part to play in the provision of youth support services.
National Youth Work Strategy for Wales
The National Youth Work Strategy for Wales (2014 - 2018) was published by the Welsh Government in February 2014 and sets out a 4 year vision (2014-2018) for youth work in Wales. The strategy reinforces the benefits of open-access provision, which is available to all young people, regardless of their background or circumstances.
As well as being beneficial in providing safe places to relax and have fun, open access services provide a non-stigmatising environment where potentially vulnerable young people can identify themselves and be identified as requiring further support. The personal and social skills gained via youth work programmes are essential for future employment and functionality in communities for young people of all abilities.
The strategy refers to youth work as being well placed and having the necessary skill sets to provide the ‘lead worker’ role for a number of young people as part of the Youth Engagement & Progression Framework. It also proposes the development of a national outcomes framework, a forum (Youth Work Reference Group) to advise Ministers, increasing the numbers of young people accessing youth work, increasing the recognition of their achievements and improving the quality of youth work provision, utilising the Quality Mark for Youth Work Organisations.
Youth Engagement and Progession
The Youth Engagement and Progression Implementation Plan (2013) is non-statutory guidance based on 6 key elements:
- Identifying young people most at risk of disengagement
- Better brokerage and co-ordination of support
- Stronger tracking and transitions of young people through the system
- Ensuring provision meets the needs of young people
- Strengthening employability skills and opportunities for employment
- Greater accountability for better outcomes for young people
The emphasis of the two-year plan is for local authorities and partners to work together towards reducing the numbers of young people not in education, employment or training (NEET), with access to a lead worker to assist them through the process.
Delivering the Youth Guarantee in Wales
A key part of the framework is the Youth Guarantee, which is defined as the “offer, acceptance and commencement of a suitable place in education or training for a young person making the first time transition from compulsory education at the age of 16”.
An important part of the offer will be a new Common Area Prospectus where young people will be able to view post-16 learning options with careers advice and guidance.
Relationships with young people are based on voluntary engagement and underpinned by the five pillars in Youth Work in Wales: Principles & Purposes - Educative; Expressive, Inclusive, Participative and Empowering.
'The Maintained Youth Service…has an essential role in providing a wide range of informal and accredited opportunities for young people to engage in community participation' Learning Pathways 14-19 Guidance, 2004.
Links: Welsh Government / Statistics - Youth Work / ETS Cymru / Wales / Youth Work National Occupational Standards
For more information contact: Tim Opie