In today’s labour market, Joint Negotiation Committee (JNC) validated youth work qualifications are being applied across a large number of sectors. Youth work predominates but we see youth workers in housing associations, emergency services, health organisations, the secure estate, schools, welfare services, and many more. Youth workers are working on local to international projects and so although there may be less statutory youth service positions than before, the opportunities for trained youth workers are still there, and the opportunity to make a positive difference is large.
Recently we helped undertake an All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) Inquiry on Youth Services, and, with others, reviewed the National Occupation Standards (NOS) for England. Consultation for both of these has told us that the NOS and JNC are vital for, and are supported by, the sector.
Youth work and its methods are therefore well recognised and supported across wide applications, and are proven in providing support and guidance for all young people.
However, the APPG inquiry found that traditional training routes of volunteering in a local service and being supported in further training, have reduced in number and accessibility, and access to degree level training and management training is also diminished. Alongside this is an increasing reliance on volunteer workers who, despite often excellent quality, suffer from little recognised available training or on the job support.
Given the diversifying role of youth work methodology, its importance in young people’s lives and the loss of many traditional youth services which provide training, there has long been recognition of the need to bolster the sector’s workforce development and provide extra training opportunities.
Whilst there has long been an apprenticeship available at level 3, the modernisation of this, along with the introduction of a Level 6, degree apprenticeship brings renewed energy to youth work training opportunities. The creation of the degree apprenticeship is only a part of the need, but it sits well between academic and vocational approaches, and helps fill the gaps where youth services previously provided training for aspiring youth workers. By joining pathways at Level 3 and Level 6 it ensures the opportunity for structured youth work training for all, with practical experience across a number of different locations and access to the best JNC tutors.
The Level 6 standards have been published and the updated Level 3 proposal is developed. Both are currently with the Institute for Apprenticeships for final approval, and we hope that both will be fully operational for early 2020.
For those aged 16, the renewed apprenticeship framework at level 3 provides a route into youth work training that may not have been available otherwise until 18, and the Levy funding helps both local authorities and some third sector organisations balance their books better whilst still being able to provide quality, recognised training for their staff.
For those with additional responsibilities who struggle with the demands of a full-time degree, the Level 6 apprenticeship can give the structured support that may be needed; we recognise that the welfare of workers and students needs better attention and support, and apprenticeships will be able to help provide for that.
These are positive developments but there is much to be done to further connect up training pathways and make training at all levels more accessible, and we are continuing to work tirelessly to develop and bolster these training routes, and others, along with sector partners and others. We thank all involved and look forwards to providing more updates as we are able.