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Jeremy Miles, Minister for Education and Welsh Language

First published:
20 December 2021
Last updated:

Since 2018, the Interim Youth Work Board has been tasked with developing recommendations for a sustainable model for youth work in Wales. On 16 September they published their final report Time to deliver for young people in Wales: Achieving a sustainable delivery model for youth work services in Wales.  I would like to once again thank the Board members, Young Persons’ Committee, Strategic Partnership Groups and all others who helped to shape the final report. I am grateful for the participative way in which the Board has engaged with young people and stakeholders across the sector, their approach has helped to understand what the issues are and work collaboratively to overcome them.

Now is the time to move away from words and towards turning our commitment to action into implementation.  We must do so at pace and without pause. I am therefore delighted to announce that recruitment of the new Youth Work Strategy Implementation Board will start in January, and I am grateful to the current Board for further extending their own timeline whilst the Implementation Board is recruited. This will provide important continuity and retain momentum. Building on that continuity, it is vital that the voice of young people remains a key part of our work to ensure we develop effective youth work services that meet the needs of all young people. I am pleased therefore that the work of the Implementation Board will be supported by the Young Persons’ Committee. 

The Board’s recommendations are ambitious and several stretch beyond youth work, which exemplifies youth work as an important strategic service, cutting across many areas. It is clear from our early considerations that cross-government working is required to identify the full scope of them. This is particularly relevant to the recommendations around the youth entitlement scheme, youth information exchange and creating a vision for children and young people. There is work already underway in some of the areas addressed in the recommendations and this cross-government approach will help us to better understand what is already in train and what we can build on.

I am pleased to confirm that specific funding, worth £11.4m over three years, has been allocated in the Welsh Government’s Draft Budget to support implementation of the Board’s recommendations.

Further investigation of the intended policy outcomes of the recommendations will help to inform the action needed to address them.  This investigatory work, as well as additional funding announced today, will support us to take this work forward. Working through these matters will be a key role of the Implementation Board, and will enable the development of a work plan for the next three years, which will prioritise what and when we will deliver.  The Implementation of the youth work strategy, which was published in 2019, will be updated to reflect this.

The annex below provides an initial response to each recommendation. As work progresses, I am committed to provide a further update on the recommendations in the new year.  

The Implementation Board will be established as a priority, and in the meantime we will continue to work with the existing Board, Strategic Partnerships Groups, the wider youth work sector and the Young Persons’ Committee to build on the progress we have already made. 

This statement is being issued during recess, in response to the Draft Budget, in order to keep members informed. Should members wish me to make a further statement or to answer questions on this when the Senedd returns I would be happy to do so.

Annex

Recommendation

 

Action

Recommendation 1: Welsh Government should establish a young people led governance structure for youth work services in Wales so that it listens to young people and acts on their views as it develops services for them.

 

Ensuring that young people are fully engaged in the work we are doing to strengthen youth work is essential. We have extended the lifetime of the Young Persons Committee and we expect them to continue to work with the current Board and in the development of the new Implementation Board (see Recommendation 5) to guide this work.

Recommendation 2: Welsh Government should strengthen or establish a new legislative basis for youth work services in Wales.

 

Further work is needed to establish what changes are needed to strengthen the legislative basis for youth work services. We need to undertake detailed policy work to inform how the intended outcomes of this recommendation can be achieved.  We will work through this with the Implementation Board (see Recommendation 5) and the wider youth work sector. This work will commence in the new year.

 

Recommendation 3: Welsh Government should appoint a Minister for Children and Young People within Cabinet with a portfolio dedicated to youth work services. The Minister should lead a process of creating a vision for young people in Wales.

 

The Minister for Education and Welsh Language has youth work within his portfolio.

 

Welsh Ministers are agreed that children’s rights are everyone’s responsibility and embedded within all portfolios.   The concerns of children and young people are subsequently at the forefront of the Cabinet’s collective thinking and policy-making. The Welsh Government is exploring how to create and share a unified vison for children and young people in Wales, drawing on the support available across all Ministerial portfolios. Youth work will be reflected in that vision and in the steps we take to coordinate and communicate our work on behalf of children and young people.

 

Recommendation 4: Welsh Government should ask the Auditor General for Wales to undertake an independent review into the sufficiency, transparency, accountability and effectiveness of funding and expenditure on youth work services across Welsh Government, local authorities and voluntary organisations, in order to assess the delivery of outcomes and impact for young people.

 

Ensuring adequate funding is available for youth work is essential to deliver against these recommendations. We will undertake a review of the funding available and how it is being used to help inform the work of the Implementation Board.

 

However, we do not accept that this work needs to be undertaken by the Auditor General's office due to the potential conflict of interest.

Recommendation 5: Welsh Government should establish a national body for youth work services in Wales.

 

In January 2022, recruitment for the Chair of a new Implementation Board will commence. The new Board will be tasked with working with the Welsh Government to take forward the recommendations outlined by the current Interim Youth Work Board where appropriate.

 

As part of their work, the Implementation Board will be asked to consider the remit of a new Body, and what functions, funding and powers it may need to have. This work will be done alongside the consideration of Recommendation 2.

 

Recommendation 6: Welsh Government should establish regional delivery partnerships supporting local delivery.

 

We are exploring opportunities to embed youth work within the existing regional education consortia model.

 

Recommendation 7: Welsh Government should establish a framework to support innovation within youth work services in Wales in order to improve standards within the sector.

 

We must ensure that the workforce is robust and driven by high quality standards. The Quality Mark for Youth Work in Wales continues to grow in strength, and we will also work with others, including Estyn, to ensure that we have ways in which we are able to appropriately assess the quality of all our youth work provision which are supportive and help to drive improvement and innovation.

 

Recommendation 8: Welsh Government should strengthen the current Education Workforce Council (EWC) legislation so that the gaps in registration criteria are closed.

 

Registration of youth workers is an important measure to help safeguard the well-being and safety of young people. As part of wider work on registration of education professionals the Welsh Government will take steps to address the gaps in registration. A formal consultation is planned to take place in Spring 2022, with implementation of any changes in 2023.

Recommendation 9: Welsh Government should work with the sector to commission an information exchange for Wales as part of a digital youth work offer to young people.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These recommendations stretch beyond youth work and a cross government approach is needed to help us better understand what is already in train and what we can build on. Work on this will continue in the new year.

Recommendation 10: Welsh Government should launch a Young Person’s Entitlement Scheme for all 11 to 25 year olds in Wales.

 

Recommendation 11: Welsh Government and the youth work sector should work together to promote equality, inclusion and diversity, both in terms of access to youth work services in Wales, and in relation to the role that youth work services can play in proactively challenging discriminatory attitudes and behaviours within society.

 

Establishing an equitable and inclusive offer for youth work should underpin everything we do as we drive this agenda forward. We have already taken several positive steps towards this by making changes to our grants and launching the new Strategic Voluntary Youth Work Organisation Grant with a specific focus on equality, inclusion and diversity.

 

Further work will be undertaken both by the Welsh Government and the Implementation Board, working with the Young Persons’ Committee to further develop this work and consider next steps.

 

Recommendation 12: Welsh Government should increase the availability of youth work services through the medium of Welsh. It should also ensure that one of the key priorities of the National Body will be to promote youth work services through the medium of Welsh.

 

We remain committed to increasing the opportunities for young people to truly engage in the language of their choice.  We will learn from the Welsh language pilots which are due to finish in March 2022 to support the increase of services delivered in Welsh and ensure that tools are created to extend this practice across Wales.

Recommendation 13: Welsh Government needs to build on its commitment to support and develop the youth work profession with a career structure offering progression.

 

The recent workforce mapping provides a starting point in helping us better understand who delivers youth work services.  We must seek to ensure the workforce is suitably diverse to reflect the needs and backgrounds of our young people, and is supported in their own professional development. We will seek to develop a clear career structure for youth workers, with opportunities for development at all levels. This will be taken forward by the Implementation Board and its supporting structures.

 

Recommendation 14: Welsh Government should establish a youth work services in Wales brand and a resource to co-ordinate and promote communication within the sector and between the sector and its partners.

 

In 2022-23 we will fund Marketing and Communications posts within the sector to  to raise the profile of youth work and to help others understand the impact it has on their sectors. They will work with the Implementation Board to identify priorities and this will be informed by a youth work sector brand audit, which will start in the new year.