Training, Qualification, Experience and Personal Attributes

Larger organisations may have human resources professionals or others skilled in learning and development and they should be consulted when considering the competence of individuals for different roles.  This section provides an outline for smaller organisations in what to look for when considering individuals’ competencies. 

When recruiting or allocating workers to particular roles or responsibilities, youth work organisations should consider the competencies as well as principles of safer recruitment. Youth work organisations are responsible for ensuring that workers are assigned roles and responsibilities that match their level of competence and potential.

Competence means the ability to carry out responsibilities or specific tasks to a defined and accepted level on a regular basis. A combination of a worker’s skills, knowledge, experience, qualifications, training and personal attributes such as awareness and judgement can affect their competence in relation to a nominated role, responsibility or task.

It should be noted that one of these elements alone does not necessarily constitute competence. For example, a qualification or attendance at a training course without practical application or experience may not constitute sufficient competence.  Conversely, a worker with many years experience in a task may be more competent to fulfil the work than someone with no experience and who has only completed a training course.

Competence is situational meaning that a worker who may be competent in one role, activity or particular group of young people may not be competent in another. Competence should be considered in relation to specific workers, with specific groups, on specific programmes, in specific environments, undertaking specific activities.

Factors affecting competence:

  1. Experience and knowledge:
    1. How much and how broad is this?
    2. How relevant is this to the role/responsibility to be undertaken and the specific needs of the programme?
    3. How current is the experience? When was experience gained and how recent is it?
    4. Are there any transferable skills or experience in other areas such as teaching,  sports coaching, therapy, adult services, risk management or safeguarding?
  1. Qualifications and training:
    1. What qualifications are held or training has been undertaken?
    2. How relevant are the qualifications or training to young people? If relevant and considered necessary, are youth work practice certificates held?
    3. When were they undertaken? Has there been practical application since?
    4. Is it possible to evidence or verify the training or qualifications?
    5. Are there any transferable qualifications or training in other areas such as teaching,  sports coaching, therapy, adult services, risk management or safeguarding, first aid & medical?
    6. Are there other professional development or memberships?
  1. Personal attributes:
    1. Does the individual display an awareness and understanding of their responsibility?
    2. Does the individual accept and understand their own limitations and know when to seek advice?
    3. Does the individual have time to dedicate to professional development?
    4. Is it assessed that the individual has good judgement and are they trustworthy?
    5. Do the individual’s behaviours suggest an awareness of the balance between confidence and complacency?

Youth work organisations should look to make an informed decision about an individual’s competence through a combination of;

  • Evidence or verification of relevant qualifications and training
  • Evidence and understanding of relevant experience and the practical application of skills needed
  • Observation of their practice
  • Understanding of their individual attributes relevant to the proposed programme

Where sufficient competence is deemed not to be met for a particular role or programme, internal or external training may be provided to bridge the gap, and/or external expertise should be sought, i.e. outsourcing delivery of a particular activity.   Where sufficient competence cannot be met by training or external support, adaptations should be made to the proposed programme or delivery to maintain an acceptable level of risk.

Health and safety competency

There are various professional health and safety qualifications and other youth work training courses will normally include risk management as part of training specifications.  Youth work organisations may need access to individuals with formal health and safety qualifications and specialist advice for some specific functions but for much youth work service delivery, workers will not need such specialist training.  In such cases, it is an organisation’s duty to assess what training is required and to provide suitable access to this, whether this be conducted ‘in house’ or externally.  Such training is likely to be best delivered in a practical way that is designed specifically for the youth worker and the roles they are assigned.  A key component of any such training will be in how to conduct dynamic risk assessments in a setting and activity that is relevant to the individual’s role. Workers’ training needs should be reviewed periodically and key training requirements should be repeated at a frequency identified by their employer.

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