Skip to main content


EACEA National Policies Platform


10. Youth work

10.4 Quality and innovation in youth work

Last update: 22 January 2021

LAST MODIFIED ON: 28/12/2020 - 13:33

On this page
  1. Quality assurance
  2. Research and evidence supporting Youth Work
  3. Participative Youth Work
  4. Smart youth work: youth work in the digital world


Quality assurance

The National Youth Agency (NYA) ensures the quality and development of professional youth work training in England. It does this through validating and monitoring professional qualifications at universities and higher education institutions.

As part of its role in monitoring qualifications, the NYA produces annual reports on validated training programmes for youth workers. As well as ensuring students receive a good standard of learning, the reports create a picture of the developing workforce and highlight changes and new developments. With the help of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Youth Affairs, the NYA published their most recent Inquiry Into Youth Work in 2019. This document establishes a broad overview of the role and sufficiency of youth work in England and posits several recommendations for its improvement.

Research and evidence supporting Youth Work  

The 2019 Youth Work Inquiry Final Report by the National Youth Agency and the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Youth Affairs investigates the state of youth work in England. This research was conducted through an open call for evidence in which relevant parties answered the following questions:

●      What is the role of youth work in addressing the needs and opportunities of young people?

●      Are the key issues and challenges faced by young people being addressed by current youth service provision?

●      Are there sufficient youth workers to support youth services and other delivery models for good-quality youth work?

●      What are the training and workforce development needs to secure and sustain youth work?

111 written responses were received, which were analysed to provide a foundation for questions explored at oral hearings and to shape the focus of the desk research.

The NYA also hosts several commissions responsible for conducting research on youth work in England. These commissions include such as the Commission into Young People and Enterprise, the Commission on Youth Work in Education, and the Commission into Sufficiency.

Furthermore, in July 2019, the Government announced that it had launched a review of the guidance for local authorities which sets out how they should secure activities and services for young people. As part of the review process, a public call for evidence was open from October to December 2019. The analysis of this open consultation is still taking place at the time of writing (December 2020).


Participative youth work 

Local authorities have a statutory obligation to include the voices of young people and foster their participation in youth work policy development and initiatives.

Statutory Guidance for Local Authorities on Services and Activities to Improve Young People’s Well-being states:

‘Local authorities must take steps to ascertain the views of young people and to take them into account in making decisions about services and activities for them, in line with Article 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). They should establish and maintain structured arrangements for doing so. To inform continuous improvement, these arrangements should enable young people to inspect and report at least annually on the quality and accessibility of provision. As appropriate they should also be involved actively in service design, delivery and governance. Young people should receive the support they need to participate, ensuring representation of the full diversity of local young people, and those who may not otherwise have a voice.’

 Beginning in 2011, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport has contracted the British Youth Council to create the Youth Voice programme, which provides youth services and enables young people to express their views in national and local decision making, including decisions on youth work. This contract is expected to continue until at least March 2020.

 The Office for Civil Society in DCMS published the Civil Society Strategy in August 2018, which included proposals for three new youth voice projects. The following projects were launched in February 2019:

  •  A Civil Society Youth Steering Group, which is set up within DCMS to oversee the development and implementation of policies affecting young people. This group has contributed to DEFRA policy-making surrounding climate change and on issues including youth violence, volunteering, youth services and the coronavirus outbreak in 2020. 
  • A national Young Commissioners and Inspectors Group, to involve young people directly and meaningfully in the commissioning, monitoring and evaluation of national programmes affecting young people.
  • A new digital solution to enable large numbers of young people play a role in consultations and programme design across the government.

The three new projects are being delivered by a consortium of youth organisations led by the British Youth Council and will run as pilots until March 2020. The other organisations in the consortium are The Mix, Youth Focus North West, Youth Focus: North East and Youth Work Unit.


‘Smart’ youth work: youth work in the digital world

There are no top level initiatives to promote digital youth work in England.

However, UK Youth offers a programme entitled Generation Code which seeks to address ‘the lack of computer science skills in young people, empowering them to become digital creators in an ever-changing global society.’ Run in partnership with Microsoft, this programme targets 11-19 year olds to ‘explore the digital world’.

It trains young people ages 16-25 with no coding experience to become ‘code champions’ and deliver coding activities to the younger participants. In doing so, it teaches them valuable coding skills, fosters their leadership capabilities, and creates a multi-tiered network of learning.

An Instagram page, “Involved” was set up in July 2020 as a platform for young people to share their views and engage young people aged 13-25 around decisions made at the heart of government, by asking questions through the app’s polling and stories functions.