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Unite Press Release on The Value of Youth Work

Posted on Wednesday, May 21, 2008

UNITE PRESS RELEASE - 19th May 2008, for immediate release

’YOUTH WORK IS THE ANSWER’ - New  research shows an increase in the role and number of youth workers

Unite, Britain’s biggest union, is calling for the formal recognition, through registration and licensing, of youth workers, as new research points to an increase in the role and number of youth workers in the UK.
Doug Nicholls, CYWU national secretary said:
"Tragically there have been over sixty deaths of young people in gang and gun related crime this year. Studies have proved youth work to be the most effective way of preventing these crimes. Furthermore, they also reduce the chances  of re-offending. For those young people who face difficulties in life, youth work provides unique hope and alternatives to help reintegrate them into education and employment. Youth work is also key to active citizenship amongst young people and youth workers support most of the new youth councils and parliaments."
Unlike other professions in the new integrated youth services, youth work though valued, do not have a license to practise, anyone can call themselves a youth worker and this puts the public at risk. Youth work is the longest established profession within youth services with well established systems to endorse qualifications linked to coherent national terms and conditions agreed with local authority and voluntary sector employers.The move towards integrated services for children and young people means the role of youth workers is valued more highly than ever before but they need formal recognition of their skills and dedication.
Over 80% of local authorities took part in the research commissioned by the Community Youth Workers section of Unite the union. Early research findings show the following.
Youth Workers
There has been an overall increase in the employment of youth workers, with no plans by local authorities to cut the number of directly employed youth workers, but with fewer part time workers. Up to 90% of local authorities apply national  pay and conditions for youth workers, with no plans to change. This confirms the professional role for youth work in education and learning, supporting the personal and social development of young people.
Youth Service
Bucking the trend, 4 out of 10 local authorities plan to keep a distinct youth service; the same number have decided not to tender those services and have not adopted the controversial principle of contestability (see notes to editors) in the way that their youth services are provided. In most cases, the local authority youth service has retained its specialism even when part of multi-agency or multidisciplinary teams.
In many areas, there is discrete funding for youth services; elsewhere measures have been taken to ensure that youth service provision does not lose out in terms of spending. 7 out of 10 local authorities said that youth service funding has not been pooled with other service provision. However in some areas, even with a dedicated youth service, youth work depends on numerous applications for external funding with insufficient core funding.

Doug Nicholls, CYWU national secretary continued:
"Never before has youth work had a greater impact and we are able to evidence its beneficial social and educational effect. With youth work in the ascendancy, we now need formal recognition of our role through a registration and a license to practice for youth workers.
For all young people involvement in positive activities develops their political and social awareness. It is the involvement of youth and community workers that underpins local programmes and national initiatives such as the UK Youth Parliament."
Yet in the national debate about increased youth participation and the government’s pledge for new or refurbished youth centres in every constituency, the one essential ingredient overlooked is the youth worker. The youth worker has the specialist skills and training to enable the young person to manage the youth centres and to deliver the youth service in all its settings."

- ENDS -
For media inquiries contact: Contact Ciaran Naidoo on 07768 931 315 or Doug Nichols on 07970345381
Notes to the Editor:-
a) 112 local authorities out of a possible 140 took part in the CYWU commissioned research. The full findings will be published in June 2008.
b) "Contestability is defined as being the process of considering different supplier options, rather than just considering changing the management, method or processes of the existing supplier" - Local Government Information Unit.
c) The Community and Youth Workers’ Union is a national section of Unite the Union. CYWU only organises and represents those working or training to work with children, young people and communities.

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