Children & Young People Now Magazine, run a short feature each week called Vox Pop where people give their view on a topical question. A few weeks back I was asked to weigh in on the debate over a new title for qualified youth workers. The published article is below:
Heads of youth services are being asked whether qualified youth workers should be renamed “youth work professionals”.
NO – JON JOLLY, YOUTH AND SCHOOLS WORKER, ARUN COMMUNITY CHURCH
I would have to answer “no”. While I agree that there is a huge diversity of practice under the title youth work and perhaps some confusion over what the discipline entails, labelling qualified workers as “professionals” will only further divide the sector between those who are or who are not “professional”.
As a qualified worker, I can see no real benefit in gaining this title. A worker’s experience and practice should dictate their status.
YES – DILLON HUGHES, SECRETARY, CONFEDERATION OF HEADS OF YOUNG PEOPLES’ SERVICES
There is a need for a new job title because currently anybody can refer to themselves as a youth worker.
While many volunteers do a fantastic job, there is no differentiation in the minds of families and communities. Consequently, there is a lack of recognition for the work that the professional youth workers offer to communities.
NO – DOUG NICHOLLS, NATIONAL OFFICER FOR YOUTH AND COMMUNITY WORKERS AND THE NOT-FOR-PROFIT SECTOR, UNITE
All Joint Negotiating Committee (JNC)-qualified workers are fully qualified for the job they are paid for. Local employers will choose job titles within this framework.
Ironically, plans to introduce a youth professional status assessment framework are less demanding than the JNC, so waters will be muddied and skills diluted if this is the title chosen. The effect would be the opposite of what is intended.
The important thing is not the title but the protection of title that ensures only those properly trained and qualified can work at all levels.
NO – PETER HART, A HARTLEPOOL CHURCH YOUTH WORKER
Do we need a new job title? As a fully qualified youth worker my answer would be “no”.
I work with a great many volunteers. In fact, I am the only paid worker in my organisation and a lot of my role is empowering other leaders, just as much as young people.
Going in one day and telling them that I have a title they will never achieve without two years at university will undermine all we are trying to do with community-led youth work.
The question actually got me thinking and served to inspire my next article (to be published in early June), so look out for an extension of this argument then!