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EACEA National Policies Platform


10. Youth work

10.5 Youth workers

Last update: 25 January 2021


On this page
1.Status in national legislation
  1. Education, training and skills recognition
  2. Mobility of youth workers


Status in national legislation

Most people enter youth work as either a volunteer or paid worker/apprentice.

The Standards Council for Community Learning and Development for Scotland (CLD Standards Council) is the professional body responsible for staff involved in community learning and development in Scotland, including youth work. It oversees the registration of practitioners; approves training courses; and oversees the continuing professional development of the sector's workforce.

A 2016 framework agreement, sets out the respective roles, goals and responsibilities of the CLD Standards Council and Education Scotland, the improvement agency.

The Youth Work National Occupational Standards are also in operation in Scotland. These define the competencies required to carry out youth work; they form the basis for Scottish Vocational Qualifications, and inform other qualifications throughout the training pathway. They are agreed standards of performance and knowledge which youth work practitioners may be required to demonstrate, depending on their role and responsibilities.

Education, training and skills recognition

A number of pre-degree awards and training programmes exist for youth workers, including:

●      National Youth Work Induction Checklist has been developed by the sector and launched in 2018. The purpose is to have a minimum induction standard across Scotland so that staff and volunteers can expect the same level of induction training wherever they practice and so that induction is transferable across organisations and locations.

●      The Professional Development Award (PDA) in Youth Work, designed as early career training for new staff or for existing youth workers who do not yet have any formal qualifications; the award recognises staff who have developed the knowledge and skills of young people;

●      TheScottish Vocational Qualification at SCQF Level 5 or 6 Youth Work, or work-based apprenticeship route aimed at individuals aged 16-19, which is a Level 5 or 6 on the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF);

●      The Higher National Certificate in Working with Communities at SCQF level 7 sets youth work within the wider CLD context.

●      The Certificate of Higher Education in Working with Young People, which aims to give learners an understanding of the key ideas, issues and policies relating to informal education work with young people and will enable learners to demonstrate reflective practitioner skills; it is a Level 7 on the SCQF;

●      The Diploma of Higher Education in Working with Young People, which gives learners a sound knowledge and critical understanding of the key ideas and policies relating to youth work and will enable learners to design, implement and evaluate programmes to support young people's development; it is a Level 8 on the SCQF.

Many youth workers will have a bachelor's or master's degree in youth work (or community learning and development) at levels 9, 10 or 11 on the SCQF.

Degrees relevant to the youth work sector andapproved as professionally qualifying by the CLD Standards Council for Scotland include:

●      BA in Community Education at the University of the West of Scotland;

●      MEd or PgDip in Community Learning and Development at the University of Aberdeen;

●      MEd or PgDip in Adult Education, Community, and Youth Work at the University of Glasgow.

Mobility of youth workers

Every year YouthLink Scotland hosts a National Youth Work Conference, a seminar designed to bring together youth workers from all around Scotland to discuss ideas and practices surrounding youth work. The 2020 conference took place online due to COVID-19 and the theme was “Resilient, Resourceful and Reimagined”. 

Furthermore, YouthLink Scotland annually hosts the National Youth Work Awards. These awards formally celebrate and recognise the achievement and innovation of youth workers and youth work organisations from all over Scotland and provides a platform for them to discuss their work. 

Erasmus+ and international mobility

Erasmus+ provides Scottish organisations engaged in youth work with opportunities to travel abroad to attend seminars, training courses, networking events, study visits, and job shadowing/observation periods. Youth work organisations can apply to either send youth workers abroad, or receive organisations and be responsible for hosting a group and developing a programme of activities for participants.

Any organisation or group established in a Programme Country can be an applicant, and must apply on behalf of all participating organisations involved in a project.

Opportunities for youth workers can include up to 50 people and can last anywhere between two days and two months. Projects must take place in the country of a participating organisation. 

In 2018 through Erasmus+ funding, 18 youth workers from Xchange Scotland were sent to 6 different international training courses in Germany, Italy, Russia, Czech Republic, and Hungary.

Under the Withdrawal Agreement negotiated with the EU, the UK will continue to participate fully in the current (2014-2020) Erasmus+ as part of the Brexit transition period. According to the European Commission website, the possible participation of the UK in future programmes after 2020 will depend on the outcome of the overall negotiations on the future relationship between the two parties.