Youth Support Services
Youth Support Services is a suite of services given its statutory basis in the The Learning & Skills Act (2000) Section 123, which states:
The National Assembly for Wales may direct a local authority: (a) to provide youth support services; (b) to secure the provision of youth support services; (c) to participate in the provision of youth support services.
- youth support services means services which in the opinion of the National Assembly will encourage, enable or assist young persons (directly or indirectly): (a) to participate effectively in education or training, (b) to take advantage of opportunities for employment, or (c) to participate effectively and responsibly in the life of their communities.
- young persons means persons who have attained the age of 11 but not the age of 26.
The Youth Service in Wales refers to the framework by which youth work is delivered and is mainly done through the local authority, national and local voluntary youth organisations, with both sectors often working closely together.
Youth work involves the education and development, both social and personal, of young people aged between 11 and 25 years and is delivered in a variety of settings including youth clubs, residential settings, in information, advice and counselling centres, on the streets and in various public locations where young people meet and through special issue-based projects etc.
Youth work is a distinct profession with its own qualifications framework and national occupational standards (NOS), with local authority provision dating from the 1930’s and has an important part to play in the provision of youth support services. Since April 2017, professional Youth Workers and Youth Support Workers working for local authorities, voluntary sector organisations, schools or Further Education Institutions are required to register with the Education Workforce Council (EWC).
National Youth Work Strategy for Wales
The National Youth Work Strategy for Wales 2019 was published by the Welsh Government in June 2019 and sets out a vision for youth work in Wales, which will be followed by an Implementation Plan. The strategy reinforces the benefits of open-access provision, which is available to all young people, regardless of their background or circumstances.
As well as being beneficial in providing safe places to relax and have fun, open access services provide a non-stigmatising environment where potentially vulnerable young people can identify themselves and be identified as requiring further support. The personal and social skills gained via youth work programmes are essential for future employment and functionality in communities for young people of all abilities.
The strategy refers to a vision for youth work which ensures that young people are thriving; that youth work is accessible and inclusive; that voluntary and paid professional youth work staff are supported through their careers to improve their practice and that a youth work delivery in Wales is based on a sustainable model. It states that:
The supporting Implementation Plan will clarify ownership of actions and delivery milestones. It will also be a living document, reflecting progress and updating approaches as new evidence emerges.
Youth Engagement and Progession
The Youth Engagement and Progression Framework is non-statutory guidance, which is based on 6 key elements:
- Identifying young people most at risk of disengagement
- Better brokerage and co-ordination of support
- Stronger tracking and transitions of young people through the system
- Ensuring provision meets the needs of young people
- Strengthening employability skills and opportunities for employment
- Greater accountability for better outcomes for young people
The emphasis of the Framework is for local authorities and partners to work together towards reducing the numbers of young people not in education, employment or training (NEET), with access to a lead worker to assist them through the process.
For more information contact: Tim Opie