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EACEA National Policies Platform


10. Youth work

10.8 Current debates and reforms

Last update: 25 January 2021
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1.Forthcoming policy developments
  1. Ongoing debates



Forthcoming policy developments

National Youth Work Strategy 2020-2025

YouthLink Scotland announced the development of the National Youth Work Strategy 2020-2025 with the aim of ensuring that youth work strategy reflects the interests, knowledge, experience, expertise, and skills of all youth work stakeholders and seeks to contribute to the meaningful legacy of the Year of Young People 2018. At the time of writing, December 2020, this strategy is still in development. You can read an update from April 2020 here

The Youth Work and Schools Partnership Programme

A pilot scheme to help schools and youth work organisations work together to close the attainment gap in education was launched in April 2019. The Youth Work and Schools Partnership Programme seeks to offer young people the opportunity to develop relationships with trusted adults and provide learning opportunities outwith the home and school environment. It is part of the Scottish Attainment Challenge which was founded by the First Minister in 2015 with the aim of ensuring every child has the same opportunity to succeed, with a particular focus on closing the poverty-related attainment gap. The Scottish Government has funded Youthlink Scotland with up to £324,000 over three years from 2018/19 to 2020/21 to deliver the Youth Work and Schools Partnership Programme.


Ongoing debates


Scottish Government funding for youth work is being increased more than 30% this year to recognise the vital role the sector will play in making up any ground lost in learning during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. A newly created £3 million Youth Work Education Recovery Fund - administered by YouthLink Scotland - is being targeted at those communities and young people who need the most support, bringing Government spending in the youth work sector this year to at least £12.5 million. Commissioned by YouthLink Scotland, Hall Aitken (2016) estimated the social return on investment in youth work contributes between £656 million and £2 billion to the Scottish economy every year and shows a return of £7 for every £1 of public cash. 

The Scottish government has released numerous guidances for the youth work sector in light of the global pandemic. The most recent (December 2020) guidance can be found here

As part of the Scottish Government’s £100 million winter support package, YouthLink Scotland  received £150,000 in December 2020 to allocate small grants to local grassroots youth work groups and organisations supporting young people most affected by social isolation and loneliness.

A Youth Work Education Recovery Fund was announced by the government in September 2020. The Recovery Fund will be administered by YouthLink Scotland, the national youth work agency. The fund is open for applications from Community Learning and Development services that help young people engage and re-engage with learning. Submissions should support partnership work between November 2020 and the end of August 2021. National decisions on specific awards from the new Youth Work Education Recovery Fund will be guided by local assessment to ensure community needs are met, with local panels feeding back to a national panel, and with young people playing a central part of both local and national panels.

YouthLink Scotland have an overview of funding provisions following the COVID-19 outbreak available here