News Archive

Successful and productive year for the National Youth Agency

Posted on Tuesday, October 30, 2001

General Secretary Doug Nicholls reports on another successful year for the National Youth Agency.

Make use of the NYA.
Members should be more aware of the NYA’s work, its excellent publications, advice and support work and its advocacy for young people and Youth Service issues. NYA’s website should be visited at least weekly and practitioners would benefit from subscribing to Shabaab, Young People Now, Policy Update and Essential Reading. If you have a question about young people and youth work, the Agency will get you the answer quickly.

Passionate and eloquent.
The Chief Executive of the Agency, Tom Wylie is a passionate and eloquent advocate for youth work and the Chair John Bevan has made it clear in his report that he believes the Agency should not court popularity in its advocacy for young people. An example of this clarity has been the Agency’s consistent caution about Connexions and its demand that the Youth Service become statutory. The Agency is not the biggest youth support agency in Europe, nor is it the best funded relative to size within the UK, but it packs a punch and successfully draws down resources in the interests of young people and to promote the distinct voice of youth work across government and civil society. It seeks also to undertake quality developmental work and its commitment to youth arts and literacy is a case in point.

CYWU has criticised many tactical political decisions of the Agency over the years, but we have always sought to play a constructive role in its development, indeed we are consistently the strongest advocate of more core funding for the Agency. The management of endorsement and training functions within the Agency are primary and it is time that the NYA was given more powers to build the central planning and professional development function for youth work supply, training and qualification.

Wonders on a shoe-string.
Through its endorsement work the Agency has achieved wonders on a shoe- string and it is time that the government recognised that some meagre funding for this work would go a very long way. CYWU has criticised the Agency for going along too easily in the past with developments that would reduce its powers, namely the National Training Organisation (PAULO), now, after eighteen months of building its brand image, likely to be merged into a new Sectoral Skills Council. We have criticised the Agency’s support for competency based assessment frameworks and for not sufficiently securing resourcing RAMPS which are now to relinquish their awarding functions to the market. We remain particularly concerned that the Agency rejected the deep felt demands of the field for a Code of Ethics. This was a big mistake. We were worried too when the Agency started to talk of ‘working with young people’ rather than youth work, this ran a danger of reducing the professional identity of our work.

Such have trends have reflected the tendency of all Agencies of this sort to go with the funding flows and latest government announcements rather than recognise the genuine concerns of face to face workers. But it is also up to fieldworkers to make their voice heard more.

One of the cornerstones.
The importance of the last year’s work of the Agency is that its status as one of the rocks on which youth work is founded has been secured and extended. Remember, the Tories tried to get rid of the Agency’s predecessor organisation. We now have local government and government recognising the central role that a national support agency of this sort can play. It is therefore a shame that more of its Advisory Council members do not attend meetings and that the potentially very representative Advisory Council does not have more teeth within the Constitution. Two meetings a year are not adequate to sustain a vibrant democracy to guide the work of the Executive Board.

Over the last busy year the Agency has commented consistently and effectively on a range of policy initiatives, kept the field uniquely informed of legal and policy and funding developments as they have affected young people, maintained its endorsement function and most importantly conducted research into the workforce and the shape of the training agenda and monitor and evaluated training courses.

Importantly the Agency has started to give better advice on Best Value and to construct proposals for senior manager training. Early forays into the Best Value area were not successful.

Innovatory youth work.
The Agency has also looked at a broad range of innovatory youth work programmes and many of these areas from the excellent work on YouthBoox, to encourage reading in conjunction with library services, to the National Study Support Evaluation and Development Programme to show how youth work assists academic progression should be closely looked at by full time staff. The Agency’s studies on youth involvement and participation work are also essential materials.

Keeping a focus on the significance of youth work in the promotion of achievement, citizenship and social inclusion has been important and the Agency has undertaken a great deal of work from the promotion of the Philip Lawrence Awards to the development of an understanding of the role of youth work in Connexions. The NYA should be congratulated too for producing materials about Afghanistan and the world situation to assist youth workers in an increasingly tense climate in may areas.

Fund it consistently.
The Agency’s income has increased from £3,7 m last year to £5,2 m. A lot of this is in and out money for funded schemes. The trick now is to persuade the LGA and Government that a doubling of the core budget is essential and will reap one of the most cost effective rewards the Treasury could imagine. Youth and childrens’ services have received a £billion from the government since 1997. It is time the Agency got a decent slice of this action to really enable the government to join up its many new initiatives for young people.

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