Youth Work Bulletin - Guest Editorial from Workforce Development Participation Group - Special Focus: Workforce Development Edition - October 2020

**Guest Editorial from Workforce Development Participation Group - Special Focus Edition**


A word from our Board Chair

Keith Towler

Keith’s Voice

My thanks to the Workforce Development Participation Group for this wonderful ‘guest-edited’ edition. During this time of uncertainty, it’s important that we continue to cherish and invest in our workforce as a key building block in establishing a sustainable model for youth work in Wales. Please do get in touch with them with any concerns or questions you have in relation to workforce development.

Following a brief ‘pause’, I am pleased to report that all of the Strategy Participation Groups (SPGs) are back up and running. Workplans will be updated over the next few weeks to reflect time lost to COVID-19 and adapted to reflect any lessons learnt so far during the pandemic.  This work will help us to develop more agile ways of working, and a more flexible model for youth work than we had perhaps previously envisaged, one that is able to adapt to the changing needs of young people and society.

On the 16th October, we brought together all SPG participants – I was delighted that over 50 participants joined me and the other Board members in a frank, honest and productive discussion about next steps. As we reviewed the plans it was also acknowledged there is still a lot of work to do, that these current plans are ambitious –which I don’t think is a bad thing, and that we should be aiming for the best possible set of youth work services that we can.

On 16th November, the Board has an opportunity to outline its vision for a sustainable delivery model for youth work with Kirsty Williams MS, the Minister for Education, ahead of the publication of our formal report to the Welsh Government in December. In advance of this, I have met with the Children’s Commissioner, the Future Generations Commissioner, the Welsh Language Commissioner, the Welsh Local Government Association, the Chair of the Children and Young People’s Committee, the Principal Youth Officer Group for Wales and the CWVYS Trustees to seek their views on our approach.

As we approach this key point in our journey, it is more important than ever that we work together and stay connected to develop a youth work service that enables us to deliver on perhaps our most important strategic aim – to ensure all our young people are thriving. As we enter a new phase in the management of the virus and fears of a catastrophic recession grow, our support for young people has never been more important. 

Please do get in touch with any queries and concerns by emailing There is also an opportunity to become more formally involved in the work of the Board - please see details in the ‘Have you heard’ section below. As a Board, we recognise there is still further work needed to ensure we are representative - to this end, please share this opportunity widely with your networks and encourage anyone with an interest to come forward. We are committed to being as inclusive as possible, do get in touch with officials with any access queries.



Welcome to this special edition of the newsletter which focuses on Workforce Development and is guest edited by the Workforce Development Participation Group (WDPG). The WDPG is one of four Strategy Participation Groups set up to implement the Welsh Government’s Youth Work Strategy and has representation from all youth work stakeholders. It is chaired by Jo Sims, Principal Youth Officer of Blaenau Gwent and Interim Youth Work Board member.

The WDPG acknowledges that the youth work workforce is diverse, comprising of managers, delivery staff and volunteers across a range of sectors. In terms of how the workforce is best supported, the WDPG is looking at a range of areas for development including: mapping the sector to get a picture of the number, location and skills of youth workers; further developing existing qualifications and continuing professional development; enhancing recruitment and retention; and promoting youth work as career. A workplan was produced which provides more detail, but timings will be amended slightly due to Covid.

While the WDPG is an established working group, if anyone feels they have something to offer or contribute to the discussion, then please do get in touch.

Further information - WDPG and its work plan

Young People’s Voices – Vickie Lovell

Vickie Lovell

When I was 11, my favourite thing was going to my local youth club in Cimla each week. The Youth club was a place where my friends and I could go play Xbox, do some arts & crafts, or just chill out and listen to music. We started going to youth club as it was a place to go during the cold and dark winter nights, however we enjoyed it so much that we just carried on going.

The club offered many opportunities for accreditation and qualifications, such as cooking, volunteering, first aid, food hygiene and budgeting, which gave me the life skills I needed. The staff in the club were always there to listen and help with any problems we had. They treated us like adults and had serious discussions with us about relationships and substance misuse. I believe my life would have been quite different without the skills and support from the staff at my youth club: they helped develop my confidence and provided opportunities for me to try new things.

I started volunteering in my youth club as part of my bronze Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. I then became a senior member of the club by volunteering in the tuck shop and helping run some of the activities. As part of being a senior member I had to undergo Junior youth leadership training, which taught me the basics of youth work and discussed how to adapt activities for different learning styles.

When I turned 18, I became a paid member of staff in my youth club, although I did not start my Level 2 training until two months into my role. While on the training we learnt all about adolescents and explored the reasons for why young people behave the way they do. This helped me to understand the young people in my club and to be less judgmental. It also helped me to understand why I did some of the things I did when I was younger.

Some people may say that youth workers have an easy job and just play pool all day. However we know that the role of a youth worker is much more than that. In my opinion youth workers provide practical and emotional support to young people. Youth workers are not like teachers, telling the young people what they can or cannot do. Instead they work with young people, helping them to do things that are important to them.

This is why I love my job and am excited to be doing my degree in youth and community education, so I can learn more about young people and therefore I can learn more ways to help young people.

JNC Youth Work Qualifications


In 1982 a HMI report estimated that the local authority and voluntary sector youth service in Wales comprised of almost 34,000 individuals. This included 87 officers (24 from local authorities, 63 from national voluntary youth organisations), 186 full-time field workers, 3,500 part-time workers and some 30,000 volunteers however it was not clear what qualifications were held by the majority of that workforce.  Fast-forward to 2020 and, while the annual audit of local authority youth services along with the number of registrants on the Education Workforce Council (EWC) provide partial figures, there is still no definitive data on the overall make-up of the youth work workforce or the qualifications held by individuals. This is further complicated by the fact that youth workers are now based in a far wider range of non-traditional settings. The need to undertake mapping of both the wider workforce and the qualifications held by that workforce is recognised by the Interim Youth Work Board, and features as part of the WDPG’s workplan.

Now, as in the past, the sector strives to be a professional workforce, with a clear framework of qualifications. Therefore the constant existence of the Joint Negotiating Committee (JNC) for Youth & Community Workers for England and Wales since the 1960s has been a substantial benefit. The JNC (along with negotiating pay, terms and conditions) has provided that framework of nationally recognised professional qualifications for youth workers. A JNC-recognised qualification is transportable and allows a holder to work at a similar level throughout Wales and in the rest of the UK and Ireland; it also permits registration with the EWC. Current JNC-recognised qualifications include:

  • Level 2 Certificate in Youth Work Practice – Assistant Youth Support Worker
  • Level 3 Certificate in Youth Work Practice – Youth Support Worker
  • Level 6 BA (Hons) Degree or Level 7 Post-graduate Diploma/MA – Professional Youth Worker

The qualifications at Levels 2 and 3 have recently been updated and a briefing paper covering the learning areas and units, the key duties of workers, and training providers is now available via the link below

ETS Wales professionally endorses youth work training on behalf of the JNC. At Level 6/7 this is done by a panel of youth workers visiting a university to meet with staff, students and local employers to explore and ensure the programme is fit for purpose.

Further information:

The Youth Work Quality Mark for Wales

Quality Mark

The Education Workforce Council (EWC) in partnership with Education Training Standards (ETS) Cymru (and in collaboration with the Council for Wales Voluntary Youth Services (CWVYS) and Principal Youth Officers Group (PYOG) Wales) have been commissioned by the Welsh Government to deliver and develop the recognised Quality Mark for youth work in Wales until January 2023. They have appointed Andrew Borsden to lead in this new role. He has many years of experience in youth work as a Principal Youth Officer, an advocate for young people, and a staunch supporter of the voluntary sector.

The Quality Mark for Youth Work in Wales is a badge of excellence. It supports and recognises good practice of organisations that deliver youth work and celebrates the excellence of their work with young people.

If you would like to know more about the Youth Work Quality Mark, please click here or get in touch by e-mail:

The Leadership and Management Programme for Youth Work in Wales


  • Are you a leader or manager of youth work?
  • How do you deal with a problem like Covid-19?
  • Is it a leadership or management issue?
  • Are you up to date with policies and strategy for Youth Work in Wales?

The work-plan of the WDPG includes a programme for training strong, effective well-skilled leaders and managers.  The programme is currently being redeveloped with the support of the National Academy of Educational Leadership. It is aimed at existing leaders and managers, and at people aspiring to acquire the skills, knowledge and behaviours required to manage their organisations and lead youth work across Wales into the future.

The programme will involve six days of in-depth training and group discussion. To take part you’ll need to be in a leadership and/or management role so you can test the theories and learning from the programme in your own practice. To get a flavour of the content check out the link here

The Leadership and Management Programme Steering Group is now seeking expressions of interest from experienced trainers to lead the delivery of the programme. Interested? Contact Steve Drowley, Chair of ETS, at

What youth work means to me - Josie Downing

I’d love to start this article with an inspirational story of how I got into youth work; how I was inspired by a youth worker which led me to choose this line of work. But that wasn’t really the case for me.

I left school when I was 17 without finishing my A-levels, and thought university was generally off the cards. I did some travelling, worked some odd jobs, but like many young people in their late teens and early twenties, felt generally quite lost and confused. I wanted to do more, but I didn’t really know what.


After some bits of volunteering, I applied for the Youth and Community Work degree at Cardiff Met following a suggestion from a family member. On my interview, I immediately felt at home, a feeling I had never felt before in education. I think that’s what good youth workers do; you feel completely comfortable in their company.

The degree taught me so much, both professionally and personally. I learnt how to be a youth worker, but also a great deal about myself. Placements were the real highlight for me. I worked with a variety of organisations, from Cardiff Council, the youth service in Malta, and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Wales (who later gave me my first youth work job). In addition to taught sessions and placements, the course really suits people who haven’t had great experiences with mainstream education and the learning was really inclusive. Friends from other courses would always give me a confused and slightly jealous look, when I’d tell them I was sailing from Cardiff to Bristol, or visiting the Houses of Parliament as part of my course.

At the start of my training, I didn’t have an inspirational youth worker anecdote, but I have so many now. The lecturers were my youth workers, placement supervisors my mentors, and both have completely influenced and shaped the way I work with young people, colleagues and my general self as I continue to grow and evolve.

So, what’s next? I am a self-confessed nerd about youth work, and I can’t wait to work in a range of settings with a variety of young people. I could have really benefitted from youth worker support when I was in school, and I hope that others will benefit from my listening ear. I look forward to the days where I can tell others training to be youth workers stories of my work in the field, how I influenced young people, my triumphs, failures, learning curves, and moments of reflection.

I’m still a young person navigating my twenties, wondering if I’m doing it right, but my youth work training has helped me to feel a little less lost and confused. Most of all, I understand that we’re all wondering if we’re doing It right!

Further links:

  • Training courses (including the one I attended) are available from ETS Wales
  • My blog post on youth work in Indonesia

Around the World: Youth Work in the Commonwealth: A Growth Profession

Published by the Commonwealth Secretariat, with lead writer Dr Brian Belton of YMCA George Williams College. This publication is a 35-country study of the status of youth work as a distinct profession in the Commonwealth. It is the first time a broad-based survey and case study collation has been conducted in the Commonwealth on the status of the profession.

The full publication is available to download.

Have you heard?


Educators Wales (Promotion of Careers in the Education Workforce)

A new advocacy service and website is launching in February 2021. The ‘Educators Wales’ website will include a careers portal, jobs portal and a training portal and will be used to promote careers in education. To find out how the service and website can support your organisation contact: 

Professional Learning Passport (PLP)

EWC’s Professional Learning Passport is your free tool to help you reflect on your learning, showcase your ideas and celebrate your achievements. To get you started, read our article for hints and tips on using the PLP to promote you. 

Call for Quality Mark assessors

Are you an experienced youth worker with a passion for celebrating excellence in youth work provision in Wales? Why not join our pool of assessors to help us deliver the Quality Mark for Youth Work in Wales. Find out more here. 

Alternatively, you can call the EWC on 029 2046 0099 for a discussion on the role.


The 2020 Youth Work Excellence Awards virtual ceremony premiered on 9th October and has since had over 700 views. Congratulations to all our winners! Thanks to all who took the time to send in a nomination - it was a really strong field this year, testament to the quality and diversity of innovative and inspiring youth work provision in Wales. You can watch the film again here and head to the  campaign site to see all the winners and finalists. 


Welsh Government has developed resources to assist practitioners to identify signs a young girl could be at risk of FGM (Female Genital Mutilation). The new resource on Hwb  includes an e-poster and factsheet which includes information on how to take action if a child is considered to be at risk.


The Interim Youth Work Board are looking for volunteers to join Strategy Participation Groups. Volunteers will join a cross-sector collaboration effort to deliver the five aims of the Youth Work Strategy. The Board’s particularly keen to widen group diversity, with meetings currently held virtually every 6-8 weeks. Contact for more information.

The new look Keeping safe online on Hwb

The Keeping safe online area of Hwb has been completely redesigned to enhance digital resilience in education. You can find up-to-date online safety, cyber security and data protection guidance, resources and events tailored to children and young people, parents and carers, practitioners and professionals, and governors.

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