Towards an Institute of Youth Work : An Atmosphere of Ambivalence?

The National Youth Agency has published somewhat belatedly four papers ahead of tomorrow’s Development Day in Leicester.

Governance interim proposal

Membership Proposal

A Framework for Ethical Practice

Guidelines on Continuing Professional Development

Responses to these proposals should be sent to Alkesh Patel by 22 February, 2013.

Frankly it would be easy to drown in the detail of these papers, but for our Campaign the overriding concern remains general and fundamental. In our submission Responding to an Institute of Youth Work made back in September 2012 we asked the IYW steering group to grapple with the dilemmas posed by the shifting landscape across youth work and work with young people. In our opinion it has failed to grasp the nettle.

In proposing to define youth work and the youth worker it falls between the hurdles. Thus it proposes that the IYW will offer membership to all in the youth sector [?], who claim to be holistic in their intent – a formulation, which begs many more questions than it answers. Adding to the confusion it goes on to say that all members will be able to identify in their practice the core values outlined in the National Occupational Standards for Youth Work [LSIS, 2012]. However the very first of these values clash with the lived reality on the ground, the increasing emphasis on prescribed and imposed programmes.

Young people choose to be involved, not least because they want to relax, meet friends, make new relationships, to have fun, and to find support.

The work starts from where young people are in relation to their own values, views and principles, as well as their own personal and social space.

Thus our representatives at tomorrow’s meeting will continue to challenge the steering group’s failure to engage with this basic contradiction of today’s ‘youth work’ practice. Given the steering group’s ‘fudge’ we will be questioning the basis of the regulatory powers, which the IYW seems to be claiming for itself.

It will be very interesting to see how other key parties will react. As far as we understand the youth work unions are ambivalent, whilst the Training Agencies Group may well feel that the IYW offers a future bulwark in defending the profession. In its submission NCVYS as a leading voice from the voluntary sector counselled a measure of caution. We will endeavour to report back as a matter of urgency. In the meantime if you do read the papers, please let us have your thoughts.



One comment

  1. I think that perhaps the IYW steering group’s conception of what constitutes a ‘choice to be involved’ may be what is the issue here. As you rightly state they fail to address the tension between the NOS and the realities or practice in regards to voluntary association. Similarly, there membership proposal suggests that joining the Institute would be by choice yet they suggest that employers may require access to the list of qualified practitioners to check the status of job applicants (to feature on this list, applicants would have to join the IYW, plus pay for the ‘added extras’). Not really a choice then. Voluntary association or manipulated compulsion?

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