Bradford and Ilkley College Conference 1995

Thank you very much for the invitation to address this welcome initiative, it is always good to come to the Community College and support the work of the excellent department here.

I am speaking on behalf of CYWU. The Union is now involved in a broader range of representative roles within youth work, community work and training than it has ever been in both England and Wales and with developing contacts in Scotland. I think our representatives play a useful role in that they express collective views, positions discussed in debate by full and part time practitioners. Very often they are so effective at representing progressive ideas that they are criticised behind the scenes for being mavericks, or paddling their own canoes. This is very far from the truth our representatives are I believe the most accountable in the field and the contribution which I am making today is a case in point. It has been discussed by our National Executive Committee and it is based entirely upon Union Policies that have emerged from closely argued debate.

In a quango dominated country with Health Trusts, Housing Associations and arms-length, next step agencies dominated by Government’s pals, with Trans National Corporations wrecking so much of our economy from their Board rooms in other continents, with so many people speaking from an entirely personal perspective, I think perhaps that one of the essential foundations upon which the future of our avowedly participative and democratic service will be built is the establishment at all levels of more representative and accountable professional structures. The voice of those elected by real constituencies of interest will be more and more important. There are times during the last three years when I have thought that the democratic deficit in society at large has actually been compounded, rather than opposed by developments and various power structures in both youth work and community work.

CYWU has looked into the future and written a very positive statement which I commend to you concerning the funding and organisation of the service. In addition, you will be aware of a document ’Planning for a Sufficient Youth Service’ which has already been commended to all Local Authorities by the Council for Local Education Authorities. This document, produced at private expenses because no publicly funded agency in England was permitted to develop such thinking, makes a number of strategic points about the future of funding and legislation. I’ll try and touch on some of the points contained in both documents in what I have to say.

I will also refer to the debates surrounding the future of the profession and training. You will no doubt have received the important consultative document from the charmingly titled Endorsement of Informal Education Interim Officers’ group, or and the play worker representative on this group calls it - EIEIO. Alongside this goes the concisely titled CYWU Publication The Future of Education and Qualification in Youth Work and Community Work and the Irrelevance of NVQs.

Firstly, just to cheer you up on the question of funding, CYWU is embarking upon some more comparative and historical Youth Service expenditure research. This is in its early stages, and I consequently do not have figures for all Local Authorities in the North. Unfortunately for two, which have come from the researcher at random this week, I have some interesting comparative figures for Barnsley and Doncaster. On the basis that you understand that I am in no way making a point about the elected members or management or CYWU Branches in those areas I can reveal that in real terms expenditure in Barnsley since 1978 has been reduced by £443,000 and in Doncaster by £211,000. In other words they would have to spend these amounts to keep equal the level of expenditure 16 years ago.

These figures are derived by comparing the expenditure figures set in 1983 prices for the year 1978/9 and comparing these with the returns to CIPFA for 1993/94 and using the standard Retail Price Index multiplier for the period. We anticipate from the early research that we have done, seeing this pattern repeated throughout the country. In 1978 there was a Grant Related Assessment figure for the Youth Service. Most local authorities spent much less than this figure. The nominal expenditure figure was removed in the early nineties and as we know all hell has broken loose as far as cuts are concerned.

In fact, in the interesting press release circulated last week by Simon Hughes he records a net cut of 12% in the five West Yorkshire authorities over the period 1990/93 and a 12% cut in the 4 south Yorkshire authorities in the same period.

One thing we are going to need for the future is much more reliable expenditure analyses. You will know that one day recently a DfE Press Release proudly claimed that £291 million had been spent on the Youth Service, while on the same day an internal memorandum covering expenditure for the same period showed £244 million spent. CYWU’s figures, based more scientifically on direct provision within the service still show less than £200 million being spent. That is ten pounds per annum for every young person of youth service age. I seem to recall another press release from the government a couple of weeks after these claiming a Youth Service expenditure of £355 million. I believe this is what Kenneth Clarke may be referring to as inflation. In any event the cyberspace virtual reality of the Government’s figures belie the obvious misery and poverty and reduced opportunity that has resulted from the deforestation of our service. £200 million is by the way far far less than the personal fortune of Britain’s wealthiest millionaire. Millionaires used to have some civility and culture either as landowners or captains of productive industry. In 1995 Britain’s richest man is a pornography merchant.

Speculating a bit more deeply you could infer that on current trends public expenditure is set to plummet still further regardless of the result of the next General Election due to the restrictions imposed on national states by the World Trade Organisation and the various trading blocs, in our case the European Union. In fact in a too easily forgotten warning give by John Smith, the previous leader of the Labour Party when he was addressing Social Democrats in Brussels he criticised the capping by the EU of Government borrowing in the member states to 3%, he described this limit in 1993 as absurd, unfeasible and liable to choke off recovery. We have seen the result, local authority cuts, far more spectacular than any Tory Minister could dream up unaided, coupled with the Local Government review and the privatising impetus of the Local Government and Housing Act, have led to unparalleled devastation, particularly in the nation’s lifeblood, its education system.

If current trends continue public sector investment will be reduced by 13% in real terms over the next two years. In local authorities it could mean a mind blowing 27% reduction. This on top of the fact that we already spend less per capita on our public services than Portugal, Spain and Greece, and investment in Britain is the lowest in Europe. 2 million public sector jobs have gone since 1979 with 500,000 having gone since 1990. For every 100 public sector jobs that go at least 22 more disappear from the local economy. As our industrial base continues to shrink less wealth will be available for public sector investment.

There are very deep seated deflationary and industrial pressures that will shape the Youth Service and its ability to survive. However, there are a range of tangible aspects within our own direct control that we can alter. In fact, in CYWU we believe that there has never been such political support for the Youth Service and and its future within a new consensus around community education. from imminent ruin we have a unique opportunity to build a new home for ourselves. There have never been so many councillors aware of what we do, never so many leading elected members in the local authority associations supportive of our work, never so many MPs lobbied about our Service and never before have the labour Party and the Liberals so genuinely put youth and community work at the centre of education policy.

At our National Conference in Swansea a month ago Peter Kilfoyle for Labour gave a sincere an unequivocal committment to introducing statutory provision for the service to improve the current legislation. He is preparing a Bill and these issues will be subject to what I hope can be the biggest lobby of Parliament we have seen on July 12th. In addition you will be aware that Peter Kilfoyle has been charged through the Labour Party Task Group to bring together existing and new policies for young people to present at Party Conference as a major package of new measures. many involved in this work are pressing strongly for a new Minister for Youth.

The Liberal Democrats similarly will produce a major youth package and are committed from the top leadership down to introducing statutory protections specifically for the Youth Service.

There are now ADC and AMA Policy papers on the Youth Service and statements have been issued recently in relation to the future of the NYA.

We have significantly more than promises from the Opposition Parties and our job I believe is to unite conceptually around the main points of the Planning for a Sufficient Youth Service document. To remind you, these are:

1. There should be at least 2 million funded places for young people between the ages of 10-19 and each funded place should provid for 100 hours of informal social and political education per annum. This would give 1 in 3 young people social and political education opportunities equivalent to just over 10% of the time provided for their schooling. It would also allow for the provision of sufficient JNC Qualified workers to address aspects of development within the Service.

2. New legislative underpinning of the Youth Service should require that local authorities have a duty to provide for a ’sufficient service’ on the basis of a separate education related Standard Spending Assessment figure.

3. Partnership in provision with the voluntary sector should be a requirement on local authorities.

4. A minimum level of professional staffing and infrastructure of service support to enhance the educational purpose of youth work should be required within each local authority organisation.

5. This should be supported by a system of integrated training and peer endorsed qualification.

6. A national audit of premises available for youth work should be undertaken with a view to a new capital expenditure programme.

CYWU further believes that the annual nature of Youth Service allocations should end, we should be put on at least three year cycles at local level and elected members, working in conjunction with officers and staff on specialist sub committees should be centrally involved inthis allocation on a more collective basis.

The Sufficiency Document and CYWU’s Policy Satement

In response to the gathering momentum about what needs to be done and the need for a comprehensive youth policy based on statutory Youth Service provision, I believe we are in England seeing a scorched earth strategy aimed at the very heart of the profession. The Government’s attempted dismemberment of the National Youth Agency is extremely serious indeed, it parrallels their current break up of the integrated structures supporting playwork. However, there is a particular aspect to this attack which is almost inspiring in its philistine ingenuity. This is the proposal, now with some backtracking following considerable outrage from the field, to end funding for professional peer led endorsement and replace existing structures with the competence assessment rooted NVQ.

Our profession has been exceptionally pioneering in its development, out of trade union structures originally, of peer led endorsement. We have defined our standards of work, married employers’ and trainers’ expectations with young peoples’ and communities’ needs, through professional endorsement we have opened access to initial training, in service training, Part time accreditation and voluntary sector training. We have linked this work to terms and conditions to give ourselves professional identity and social value.

At the Centre of the work of the Scottish Community Education Council, which you can read more about in the Rapport supplement I have distributed, and increasingly at the centre of the Wales Youth Agency through its new and forward looking ETS Committee is the work of their professional endorsement panels. There is a genuine recognition in Wales and Scotland that the basis of the work of supporting work with young people and communities is the quality, definition, excellence and standard of the practice of the full time, part time and volunteer staff employed within the Service. This work is not particularly glamorous or newsworthy, and not exactly composed of sound bites. However, it is absolutely fundamental and it provides a bedrock upon which any professional and political survival strategy can be built. Unless there is an identifiable profession to defend, there is nothing to defend. You could not protect schools without teachers, hospitals without doctors and nurses. The skill and transmitted knowledge within any occupation is the foundation of the service that is provided.

By creating national agencies to defend a profession and thereby promote a socially invaluable service we have provided ourselves with mechanisms to anchor our work and our provision as storms toss around us. In England I believe there has been too much opportunistic chasing of flotsam and jetsam and wreckage of other vessels, too much hanging on the coat tails of other social policy issues. There has been a return to faith, hope and charity, a sickly collusion with policies designed to return the service to its nineteenth century origins in charitable philanthropy. The deprofessionalisation of the Service is matched by the increasing concentration on various workfare notions whether Citizens’ Service for young people or the current fashion for voluntarism or decriminalisation approaches. The ideal within current trends is an NVQed part timer working on a Citizens Service programme.

We are an independent, strong profession which has actually become key to rebuilding so much of educational and social life. Our future depends on the reassertion of this fact.

There are marked differences I believe in the way the service has presented itself in Scotland and Wales and compared with England in relation to local government review. The fragmentation of our already desparately small service into new unitary authorities should have been countered here as in Scotland by a major publicity campaign concentrating on the educational significance of our work and its vital role in promoting local democracy, community and economic development. In Scotland next week there will be a Conference for all the new unitary authority councillors to discuss the educational shape of the service, but this is based on a fairly assertive advocacy document from the Scottish Office promoted and supported by SCEC and the Local Authority Association.

Similar with Wales, I do not believe the confidence and pride in professionalism of the Wales Youth Agency’s document Building For Our Future has yet been matched, although I think CYWU’s forthcoming document on this subject will be helpful here.

England in the youth and community sector is fast becoming the poor relation. There is another reason why we in CYWU think that the profession in England is suffering disproprtionately, this relates to the failure to gather the momentum within the profession itself around new important concepts of definition. In Scotland the Alexander Report of 1975 brought youth work, community work and adult education together in one overall promotion body - SCEC. Professional endorsement and colleges courses recognised tha this required the instruction and qualification of workers in the generic skills of community education, sometimes referred to as informal education.

The recognition of this has come to England sometwhat later but nevertheless forcefully. A growing academic literature on the subject has reflected the fact that many training courses, including a new one in this area are basing their curriculum on broader techniques applicable to youth work, community work, community arts, play and adult education. This as it were organic impetus has in turn reflected the part contingent, part progressive development of Community Education or Development Departments at local level which have brought together the various disciplines in adult, community, play and youth under the JNC scales. In turn JNC will be discussing this year the incorporation of adult education, youth and community staff.

The most detailed examination of the needs of future training and endorsement was contained in the report of a working party which I was delighted to have chaired which sought to identify the core elements of youth and community work training. This concluded that the generic skills in the related informal education occupations were similar. The Training Agencies Group and CYWU and NAYCEO came to identical conclusions independently. Scotland had reached this point twenty years ago and Wales is nearly there.

In England this concept has not been embraced within the National Youth Agency. Indeed community work was not represented on the newly formed endorsement body. This has led community work to establish a new standards body for Community work to endorse this training. Play work has done much the same thing following a wide ranging consultation exercise. CYWU has managed to bring a repreentative range of these disparate groups together - the infamous EIEIO Group - and a proposal for a generic endorsement body is out for consultation. I have further copies today if you do not have yours. Again the field has been forced back to its own devices, unaided and voluntarily, to achieve its main aims.

CYWU would wish a new endorsement body to be built on the existing excellent practice and professional staff of the NYA ETS Committee. It is fair to say that this committee itself has been approaching very similar conclusions. An ideal opportunity to encourage a healthy debate around these issues would have been afforded if the Committee’s own desire to revise the existing endorsement guidelines had been fulfilled, this now looks likely and the field’s impatience on this issues looks regrettably to add fule to the Government’s indifference to state funding for this function. Politically if the state withdraws funding for professional endorsement it will be jettisoning all commitment to our profession.

I remain absolutely sure however, that by whatever means a new stronger more broadly based endorsement structure will emerge and the first class work of the ETS will not have been in vain.

As soon as the professional purpose and organisation of our work is lost other things slip. Money and energy has been diverted centrally from the field led development of RAMPs which have potentially laid the basis for part time worker training into the twenty first century, and into the comptency, off the shelf, nevery mind the quality, Not Very Qualified, certainly not educated approach of the NVQ. But even this is not plain sailing. The Department of Employment itself is extremely sceptical to say the least that an NVQ Level 4 or 5 is appropriate within our work. The working group which I chaired on this matter incidentally concluded that a one session a week part timer required the expterise of at least an NVQ Level 3 equivalent. We were delighted at our Conference in Swansea that the leader of the Local Education Authorities herself actually reasserted the vital improtance of professionalism at all levels in our sector and branded the NVQs ’inappropraite’ here.

Lose sight of the profession and you think you can contract it out to the highest bidder. Great damage was done in several parts of the country following the Coopers and Lybrand Report when a number of authorities were centrally encouraged to develop new arms length provision. I have worked closely with staff in those authorities ever since and seen the transformation from professional youth workers to Business Unit Managers. I have also seen senior officers and elected members pull their hair out and now I am pleased to report that in at least two of the irresponsible experiments, youth and community services will be returned to direct provision.

We have received clarification recently from the Department of the Environment that Youth Services cannot be subject to Compulsory Competitive Tendering.

Lose sight of the profession and staff become units. A gallmaufrey of quantitative human resource techniques, usually based on contracts that shift away from the ten session week have been introduced, and are partly echoed in the accountants’ evaluative criteria contained in the Guidelines for Inspection of the Youth Service. Many youth workers now, or should I call them cost autonomous centre managers are asked to account for their time in ten minute units broken down into various tasks. Staff development Policies have declined and in the place of regular supervision, so absolutely fundamental in our work, we have the computerised time sheet.

Lose sight of the profession and you start to conceptualise the service as predominantly something to do with crime prevention or behavioural modifaction through the management of deficit model approaches. The Citizens Service trend currently is one of the best illustrations of this. Where is the Youth Service committment, indeed anger, to campaigning for full youth employment and education. Community Service trends as currently debated threaten also to put more compulsion in the school curriculum for the most disadvantaged at a time when PSE is still outside school teacher time. It will also devalue and stigmatise certain forms of useful labour. Above all it will offer, much as the Community Programme did a few crutches for hard pressed youth and community centres making them reliant on cheap labour once again. Our young people deserve much more and the youth service should be in the vanguard of seeking an alternative.

Fortunately the JNC and the local authority associations are not losing sight of the profession. There has recently been a fascinating ACAS Review of the JNC Report in response to the Unions’ demands for parity for part time workers. This will provide all employers with an excellent opportunity to legalise their employment practices and professionalise the conditions of the majority of the workforce. We have been deluded for too many decades in the belief that if we have a service built on casual, part time labour we will gain the permanence and social respect and investment that we deserve. Part time workers have done a phenomenal job, but their employers projection of them as semi skilled temporary staff has let the side down badly. We can now change this.

We should change also the horrendous DfE view that there should be no Labour market planning in our sector. The tripling of college places over the last five years driven by the market forces dominating Higher Education has raised expectation and caused many tragedies. The truth is we need more full time staff and more qualification students, but we have a responsibility to create an equilibrium.

The future is bright if we make it so by focussing our political strategy and national support agencies around the profession rather than the fads and quirks of Ministers and politicians. Our little ship needs a firm anchor. Local authority associations and the voluntary sector at national level need to take firmer control over this anchor. But I do have a warning. As a gastronome I know that if I were to throw a live frog into boiling water it would leap out to freedom. However, if I placed the frog in cold water and gently turned up the heat it would all asleep and perish. I hope that you will leap out of the water with us an be at Parliament on July 12th to Lobby as senior practitioners in the field, your MPs, that day will start a new chapter in our history. Thank you for listening.

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