Consultation on Institute for Youth Work

28 September 2011 — 6 Comments

Yesterday the National Youth Agency (NYA) announced a consultation to gather opinion from youth workers and managers about the potential for a national Institute for Youth Work. There’s a bit of a story to this which I previously wrote about here and here. It is now VERY important that anyone working with young people in the UK, complete the survey and pass it on to others. I’ll explain why below.

A chance to have your say!


Many of you will know that the concept of an Institute for Youth Work has been kicking around for a while with the intention to set standards and provide a strong voice for the sector and those individuals within it. It’s been mainly pursued by ‘professionally qualified’ youth workers who are looking for some kind of protection of their title. I kind of see the point. Currently anyone can (and do) call themselves youth workers without necessarily any training or understanding of what the discipline entails. However, my concern has always been around part-time and volunteer youth workers who may not have a professional qualification, but are heavily invested in providing youth work. What would an Institute mean for them?

As I reported previously, a group of organisations have joined together to create ‘Catalyst’:

The National Youth Agency (NYA), in partnership with National Council for Voluntary Youth Services (NCVYS), The Young Foundation and Social Enterprise Coalition have formed a consortium, named Catalyst, to fulfil the role of Startegic partner for young people with the Department of Education. The consortium will run a project consisting of three main work strands over the coming two years. As part of this work the NYA is exploring the potential for and role of an Institute for Youth Work as an independent body owned by its membership, giving voice to the sector and securing engagement across the whole sector.

As I said before, none of the grant from the DfE is to actually create or start the institute, but simply to explore what it could become. This is why there is now the first stage of consultation happening.

Further Information

There is a couple of useful documents that may inform your response to the consultation and help understand its intended purpose. The first is some more background on where the Institute for Youth Work idea has come from. You can download it here (pdf format). The second is A Stimulus Paper on Professionalism and Professional Bodies developed by the Institute for Learning. Although not specific to Youth Work, it addresses language and definitions around professionalism and professional bodies. Download it here (pdf format).

The Consultation

The first part of the consultation is open until 30th November 2011 and is mainly around establishing the level of support (or otherwise) for an Institute for Youth Work. The consultation is available online here for individuals to complete, or you could arrange events within your own networks & organisations to discuss the questions together (the consultation is available as download here). Alternatively there will be an free event at the NYA on 8th November 2011 to discuss the consultation. You can book for the event here.

Complete the survey now and share it around your contacts.

What next?

On the NYA website, Diane Evans states:

If the response to this is positive then the second phase of consultation will explore the detail behind all aspects of this from principles and mission through governance, functions, services and membership.

As someone critically involved in moving this project forwards, I’m really interested in your responses to both the Institute concept, and the actual consultation. Please leave some comments below outlining your thoughts to both!


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I am a qualified youth worker, writer and consultant based in Littlehampton, UK. I've worked in the voluntary youth sector for over 12 years, am married to Kirsty and we have two daughters named Hope and Eloise. Check out 'Journeying Together: Growing Youth Work and Youth Workers in Local Communities' and read my opening chapter.

6 responses to Consultation on Institute for Youth Work

  1. Thanks for this prod, Jon. Personally I’m deeply cautious about the motivation behind this initiative, but there is the chance to voice criticism, even opposition. Will link to this across our network.

  2. I had a bit of a rant when I submitted my answers to the consultation. As you’re sitting on the committee I’ll be interested to know if you get to see my response. I’m sure you’ll be able to tell which it is!

    For me the problem with “professionals” is their desire to control outcomes and delivery methods as well as their suspicion and distrust of work by the voluntary sector or should I call them “amateurs”. If the Institute of Youth Work focused on improving the training and support for all who work with young people then I would happily endorse it – but if it becomes a protectionist racket to which the Chief Mukka-Mukkas set increasingly higher membership fees and conditions for entry then I’m afraid I will be campaigning against it wherever I can.

    • Thanks Chris! 🙂

      I’m part of a “support and challenge” group so don’t get any say on the actual project. Our role is to provide a critical eye and advocacy role (e.g. Ask awkward questions and promote the consultation as widely as possible).

      I’m not sure if we get to see individual responses to the survey, but I doubt it. Thanks for being clear on your thoughts though. We need as many responses as possible!

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  1. Jon Jolly (@bobweasel) (@bobweasel) - 28 September 2011

    Consultation on Institute for Youth Work

  2. DianeLaw (@DianeLaw) - 28 September 2011

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