NYA demands national youth work strategy

By Gabriella Jozwiak

| 02 June 2017

The next government must create a national strategy for youth work that recognises its value to young people's personal and social development, the National Youth Agency (NYA) has said.

The NYA wants the next government to create a national youth work strategy. Picture: Alex Deverill

The organisation said whichever political party wins at the polls next week must "invest in youth work and make it more accessible to young people".

The call, set out in the organisation's election manifesto, follows steep cuts to youth service budgets in recent years, with latest local authority section 251 returns showing council spending on youth services fell from £815m in 2012/13 to £500m in 2015/16. 

In reference to government investment in the National Citizen Service programme - which is being funded with £1.2bn of public money up to 2020 - the manifesto states that although "social action is great" there is a need for "a range of services catering to young people across a broader age range than 16- to 17-year-olds".

NYA's manifesto also calls on the government to use youth workers to support young people on apprenticeships. 

It said: "Skilled youth workers support young people through the first crucial six weeks when the drop-out rate is highest and provide wraparound support for more vulnerable young people entering work for the first time." 

Other demands include asking the government to invest in programmes to boost young people's financial skills.

"Building these skills are as important as formal qualifications in supporting young people's life chances," the document states.

It also calls for the voting age to be lowered to 16.

Last month the NYA highlighted the value of youth workers after it emerged that a Manchester community worker reported concerns about the Manchester suicide bomber, Salman Abedi, five years earlier.

At the time, NYA chief executive Paul Miller said youth workers needed "to play a regular and stable role in young people's lives for this to happen and we need to see investment in youth work as an investment in the future of our young people".

The Labour Party's general election manifesto states it will prevent further cuts to youth clubs, while the Green Party has pledged to increase spending on "youth services, youth councils, and non-curricular education and training". 

Neither the Liberal Democrats nor the Conservative Party manifestos mention youth clubs or youth work.

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