Is the tide turning? The IYW offers a strategy and UNITE seeks to resuscitate the JNC

At this moment we are near completing a draft ‘Is the tide turning?’ document based on the discussions at events held around the country late last year. We are going to present a draft for debate at the Youth & Policy conference in Leeds on Friday, February 9th, after which we are going to circulate the paper to all those involved thus far. The draft will then go to the IDYW national conference in Birmingham on Friday, March 9th. Amongst those contributing to the conference will be UNITE and UNISON, together with the Institute for Youth Work.

In this context, it’s informative and revealing to spend time with two new publications from the Institute and UNITE.




The IYW has become a robust and trusted organisation in its own right that has an elected council of 12 dedicated individuals bringing a wealth of skills and experience from across the youth sector. We grew from sector bodies and continue to be a team player, open to working with the wider sector.

We have outlined below our strategic plan that seeks to ensure the place of IYW in the future of youth work as the democratic, independent professional body for youth workers that does not compete with those we seek to represent.

Read in full at IYW STRATEGIC PLAN

Meanwhile UNITE has produced a research report, undertaken by the Yorkshire and Humberside Regional Unit, entitled YOUTH WORK: PROFESSIONALS VALUED.

Find below its key recommendations.

Key recommendations

i. A specific Minister for Youth Affairs whose responsibility is to be an advocate and voice for young people in Government, attending Cabinet. The role would straddle  Government departments and assess the impact of Government policy on the hopes, aspirations and lives of young people.

ii. Government should create a national youth forum to consult young people on policies that affect them, giving them powers to challenge policies that will affect their interests.

iii. Parliament should establish a joint parliamentary commission on youth services to consult with young people, communities and key stakeholders of the sector on the impact loss of or change of provision has had on the lives of young people, communities and key stakeholders and make recommendations for legislative and
other action.

 iv. The introduction of a Statutory Youth Services bill that places new legal duties and obligations on local authorities to provide a professional youth service and meaningfully consult young people on any changes to local services; especially cuts, closures and removal of services.

v. A Parliamentary Select Committee report on the impact of the changes in government policy on youth and community work, with a comparable cost analysis of short term programmes against universal open access provision. This should assess the impact of cuts and policy changes, in order to make recommendations to
government on how to stop the further de-professionalisation of youth and community work.

vi. The UK Government and the Governments of the Devolved Nations where responsibility for youth services sitmust develop a national strategy involving stakeholders to resist further de-professionalisation and retain and return local authority youth service funding to a well-resourced, statutory provision and seeks to protect and preserve the JNC.

vii. The protection of the JNC quality standards through the establishment of a Youth and community workforce licensure system, workforce register including a revocable license to practice, protection of the title, CPD scheme and code of ethics as exists in many other professions.

viii. Stakeholders within the community and youth work sector must develop a communication strategy to educate students on youth and community courses about the JNC.

ix. Stakeholders including the JNC, Trade Unions, ETS committees, Training agency group, plus HEIs and Youth work employers must carry out a national review of local and national training for youth work.

x. Local authority employers must work in partnership with trade union staff side groups to develop policies and procedures to support those workers already redeployed, to maximise their impact in new roles.


We look forward to the contributions of both the IYW and UNITE to our conference. What will be fascinating is to explore the question of the relationship in seeking to turn the tide between IYW, UNITE and indeed UNISON? Almost a decade ago at the first IDYW conference held in Manchester, Doug Nicholls, then the long-standing General Secretary of CYWU [UNITE], gave an impassioned speech, warning of the dangers of reviving the idea of a youth workers’ professional association. To what extent have the circumstances and perspectives changed?


LOGBOOK 3 : Youth Work as a Profession


Again ahead of our conference which will be tangling with dilemmas posed by a fractured landscape of youth work and a fragmenting workforce or profession, POYWE [Professional Open Youth Work Europe] has produced its latest impressive e-magazine, Logbook 3. Its theme is youth work as a profession viewed theoretically and through the prism of examples in practice from Croatia, Lithuania, Finland, South Tyrol and across the ocean, Indianopolis. It also includes interviews with youth workers undertaken by our own Pauline Grace.

As it happens it contains also a typical rant from me about neoliberalism’s impact on open youth work.

Hence it’s never been keen on the questioning, improvisatory and unruly world of open youth centres and projects. It fears a dialogue that fosters critical thought. It mistrusts a space, where young people create their own autonomous groups and agendas. It is deeply suspicious of an unpredictable process, which refuses to guarantee its destination. Above all it is impatient. It has no time for time, no time for the uneven pace of making conversations and relationships.

And so on and so on! The managing director of POYWE, Marc Boes is not impressed. He responds in a complementary opinion piece, implying that we [I] fall into the trap of simply complaining about the ‘Other’ rather than reflecting upon ourselves.

What is interesting about this is that youth work in times of cuts has the same reflex. It is all the fault of the “enemy” and we are definitely not going to take a hard look at ourselves. The point is that youth work always will be influenced by politics on which youth work has almost no influence. It is called democracy. A majority of the voters wanted to have the budget cuts, plain and simple.

Anyway see what you think, but more importantly find time to explore the diversity of excellent articles, which challenge our often insular British outlook on youth work. In addition to those mentioned above there is a discussion on developing detached work through European cooperation and a summary of young people’s and students’ expectations of open youth work.

Finally the e-magazine contains POYWE’s Declaration of the Principles of Open Youth Work, around which we hope to organise an IDYW seminar.

Read the whole magazine in full at LOGBOOK 3. Well worth the trouble.