Guide to Qualifications and Training: Youth Justice

Joe Lepper
Friday, September 1, 2023

Leaving rates among prison and probation staff have been rising each year since 2017, according to HM Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) figures.

In March, the Youth Justice Board (YJB), which is responsible for overseeing the youth justice system, launched a workforce development strategy up to 2025.

This includes pledges to improve career support and training to help staff tackle complex problems around poverty and trauma. In addition, the government wants to recruit 1,500 probation officers by March 2024 to address increasing numbers of vacancies.

Secure estate

HMPPS's Youth Custody Service (YCS) offers roles in young offender institutions (YOIs), secure training centres and secure children's homes. Band 3 youth justice worker pay ranges from £30,702 to £36,140 for a 39-hour week. Trainees start on a 37-hour a week contract.

Where there are no local vacancies at a secure setting, trainees can work away for 23 months through HMPPS's Prison and Youth Justice Futures Training Scheme and gain financial help with costs, including accommodation.

The YCS is looking at developing apprenticeship training, meaning the foundation degree in youth justice will no longer be required training for YCS officers.

The Unlocked Graduates scheme places graduate trainee prison officers in YOIs for four years. These trainees work towards a master's degree and receive a salary of up to £34,000 depending on location. Applications for the next cohort open in September 2023.

Currently, there is only one secure training centre, Oakhill. The UK's first secure school is due to be launched by Oasis Restore by early 2024.


Training for youth justice specialists in multi-agency youth offending teams (YOTs) includes in-service courses, a youth justice effective practice certificate and youth justice degree.

The Association of YOT Managers (AYM) runs Level 5 and Level 7 leadership courses with local government leadership body Solace Enterprises.

The YJB-funded Youth Justice Sector Improvement Partnership is administered by the AYM and offers training for managers on carrying out peer reviews of YOTs and team leader training. It also offers operational manager training, coaching, and mentoring for YOT managers and supervisors.

Further courses

The Youth Justice Institute offers courses in areas such as trauma and reoffending.

Accredited by the University of Suffolk, Unitas offers a two-year, part-time Level 5 Foundation Degree in Youth Justice as well as BA Hons degrees in Youth Justice and Crime Criminology and Criminal Justice.

A 25-month Level 5 youth justice practitioner apprenticeship is also available from four providers, Unitas, South Devon College, Intelligencia Training and Mybe Awards.

Universities also offer a Youth Justice BA Hons degree covering social policy, psychology, sociology, and criminology.

In 2023, HM Inspectorate of Probation launched a one-year inspection skills course approved by SFJ Awards. Seven inspectors and 14 assistant inspectors are currently enrolled.

Read more in the Children's Workforce Guide to Qualifications and Training 2023/24

Read the full guide online

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