Careers Guide: Foreword


There are few nobler career choices than working in the service of children and young people. And there are few occupational groups that are evolving as fast. Plenty of moves are afoot to develop and professionalise the children's and youth workforce, as crystallised in the workforce strategy that was due to be published in November 2008.

There are a number of great challenges on the horizon. They range from the implementation of the Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum, right through to the educational reforms for 14- to 19-year-olds. Then there are the constant challenges of giving vulnerable children the best chances in life.

The Every Child Matters green paper, published more than five years ago, was a seminal policy to improve partnerships between all professionals working with children and young people, while The Children's Plan, released in December 2007, cemented this agenda. And, from 2010, the Integrated Qualifications Framework will enable practitioners to move more freely between jobs, through a programme of continuing professional development.

In this guide, we attempt to set out the key qualities required to enter the principal fields of the sector. And we feature a number of profiles with practitioners from around the country, who provide a real flavour of the work they do, its frustrations and its rewards.

The economic slowdown will bring challenges as budgets are squeezed. But the various skills of those who work with the young will remain in demand. The people who make up the children's workforce can be secure in the knowledge that their jobs really do matter.

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