Each year, Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) offering a validated youth work qualification are required to complete an Annual Monitoring survey as a part of their validation process. This data forms an annual report which supports NYA and the wider sector in developing professional training.
Since the last report youth work has seen a rise in profile. 2019 saw the publication of a national inquiry into youth services via the APPG for Youth Affairs and related work in the APPG for Knife Crime and Youth Violence Commission. The General Election saw youth services allocated dedicated budgets in each major manifesto, with The Conservative Party receiving a majority and committing £500m towards youth services over 5 years, with an element for workforce development.
Government have also committed to review the guidance to the statutory duty for youth work and funded 450 bursaries for delivery of Level 2 and Level 3 validated training across the country.
NYA are continuing to work hard with partners to develop the workforce and have convened experts to work on a Curriculum for Youth Work and continue to push for apprenticeships at Levels 3 and Level 6. Government have provided financial support for these, and towards undertaking preparatory work to inform a workforce development strategy, a review of qualifications, and more.
Overall, there is increasing recognition of the need for professional youth workers and a supporting infrastructure. This context provides a positive setting for future years with an uptick in interest from HEIs to run professionally validated youth work courses, even as a response to Covid-19 is being developed where trained youth workers will be needed more than ever.
There are, therefore, many positives to build on in developing the HEI provision of youth work qualifications, which will form a key part of Youth Work Week to be held later this year, 2-6 November, with our collective vision and central theme – ‘Ambitious for Youth Work’.
Our data from the academic year 2018/19 shows that across HEIs:
- Whilst there is a decline in number of HEIs, programmes and students for this year, 4new courses are due to have intakes starting in 2020, and discussions are underway with others. There is also more ‘remote digital’ provision for students than before.
- Staffing levels have remained stable relative to student numbers, and students retain good access to JNC qualified staff and supervisors. To increase student placement options, HEIs are providing long-arm JNC qualified support to students in placements where necessary, and are also training and providing guidance to non-JNC supervisors. This has benefitted students who are able to undertake a wide variety of placements in non-traditional youth work settings.
- Student intakes are ethnically diverse, have a range of starting ages, and programmes are accessible to disabled students. There is also a clear indication that the ‘life experiences’ of students are varied.Whilst this inclusivity and diversity is positive, more must be done to attract males to the qualifications, with only 1 in 4 of the intake being male for the past 4 years.
- There is a continued improvement to completion rates amongst students at Level 4, and overall withdrawal rates have reduced by 37% over the last 3 years. This is despite the challenges facing many students who juggle caring, parental, employment and other responsibilities, and suggests that the learning of previous years has been implemented by HEIs successfully.
- Available student destination data shows the benefits of a youth work degree. The roles that graduates are moving into are diverse with youth work skills valued across a wide range of settings, and unemployment rates are extremely low.