A new Level 4 Certificate in Professional Development (Youth Work) has been launched by the National Youth Agency (NYA) to help practitioners develop their skills in specialist areas. The qualification is aimed at youth workers and those who wish to make use of Youth Work methods in the services they offer, such as social workers, police officers, those working in the emergency services and teachers.

The qualification reflects the NYA’s five-year Workforce Development Strategy, in particular its aim to develop further training and resources for youth organisations and partner sectors to help youth work and allied sectors work together more effectively to benefit the young people they serve.

Kevin Jones, Director of Workforce, NYA, said: “Youth work attracts those who are passionate and dedicated to supporting young people to fulfil their potential, but we know that the country needs more of them and our aim is to attract some 10,000 new professionally qualified full-time youth workers within 10 years.

The NYA is committed to promoting youth work as a career, as well as making the case for investment to support training. This new qualification is the first step in our strategy to attract ambitious people into the sector and help existing youth workers to progress their careers.”

The new Level 4 qualification has been developed to promote specialist knowledge within the youth work sector as well as reflect changes in policy. The menu of Units responds to the plethora of research reports highlighting the challenges which young people are facing, such as an increasing need for mental health support, vulnerability to gangs and exploitation and barriers into employment. It also provides opportunities to build knowledge and confidence in key tenets of the National Youth Work Curriculum, for example, ‘Participation’ and ‘Identity and Belonging’.

All learners must undertake the Introduction to Professional Development (Youth Work)unit which focuses on the youth work relationship, working in partnership and reflection on the student’s own professional development and then select two further units from Learners then select at least two further units from a menu of 23, covering themes such as Trauma Informed Practice; Gender Identity; Mental Health and Wellbeing; Race and Racism; Disability; Faith; Violence, Gangs and Exploitation; Digital Youth Work; Leadership and Management in Youth Work and Participation and Democracy. There are also units relating to youth work in different settings such as Children’s Social Care, Formal Education, Youth Justice, Social Work and the Secure Estate.

Units on Critical Youth Work Practice (Exploring/ Opening up Gendered Worlds) allow learners to consider the ever-changing vocabulary to describe gender as well as how young people respond to gendered scripts, as well as take the opportunity to undertake an enquiry project to investigate gender related issues.

Janet Batsleer, Reader Emerita at Manchester Metropolitan University, who designed the gender focused units said: “These Units will encourage learners to tackle the assumptions in youth work about what activities are suitable for girls and boys, as well as reflect on young people’s varied experience of gender, including gender fluidity and trans rights. These issues have become highly politicised recently and the unit enables youth workers to take a step back in order to develop a rights-based approach to supporting young people navigating a complex set of issues. The enquiry project will enable them to pilot a way of working which will inform their practice and be more confident in their work with young people.

Within the Detached Youth Work unit learners will explore the theory and practice of detached youth work and examine the potential tensions and dilemmas associated with working in varying settings and contexts.

Graeme Tiffany, education consultant and trainer, the creator of the Detached Youth Work Unit, said: “The voluntary youth work relationship is most explicit in detached youth work. Working in non-institutional spaces means workers have no formal power. As such, young people’s agency is celebrated and put centre-stage; detached youth work is an appreciative rather than deficit-oriented practice. This makes it possible to work with young people who resist engagement with other practitioners working in more authoritarian, typically formal, settings.

“The unit aims to improve the practice of detached youth work by helping learners think critically about what detached youth work is, why, where and when it might be an appropriate and useful intervention, and how this analysis supports reflection on the work they are involved in.”

The Youth Work in Youth Justice unit will help youth workers better understand the youth justice system and how they can help young people navigate through it. They will also be guided to reflect upon the tensions that can arise when working with youth justice profession practitioners whilst upholding Youth Work principles.

Peter Harris, Senior Lecturer and Course Coordinator for Criminology, Newman University, Birmingham, who designed the unit said: “There are a lot of assumptions about youth work supporting youth justice work, and whilst it’s important to respond to areas of need, youth workers need to keep their values and purpose as a youth worker in clear focus.

Learners must be over 19 years of age and hold a formal Level 3 qualification in Youth Work (or related discipline) to apply for the Level 4 Certificate in Professional Development (Youth Work), via one of the Awarding Bodies: Skills and Education Group, the AIM Group, NCFE, NOCN Group, Agored Cymru, and Open Awards.

The new Level 4 Certificate has been developed by the National Youth Agency in collaboration with the Education Training Standards (ETS) Wales and Education Training Standards (ETS) England for individuals working in a Youth Work environment.

For more information visit Level 4 Certificate in Professional Development (Youth Work) – NYA

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