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EACEA National Policies Platform


2. Voluntary Activities

2.7 Skills recognition

Last update: 25 January 2021

LAST MODIFIED ON: 27/06/2020

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  1. Policy Framework
  2. Existing arrangements


Policy Framework

On Thursday 21 January 2016, the Minister for Children and Young People led a Scottish Parliamentdebate on the topic 'Young people's achievements‎ across Scotland and the role of youth awards in recognising this’.

The Minister noted that ‘Since the establishment of the awards network in 2008, we have seen a 273 per cent growth in participation in and completion of youth awards in six years’.

The Minister referred to Education Scotland’s report from November 2015,A Review of Youth Awards in Scotland:

The review findings, the data from elsewhere and, most important, the stories and experiences of young people themselves highlight the impact of the awards and their importance to our society and communities. The report provides evidence of an approach that is delivering for young people in Scotland. The impact of that approach cuts across portfolios throughout Government and society.

Quite recently, we gathered in Parliament to consider what more we can do to close the gap in educational attainment and to tackle inequalities in our society. The youth awards report points to the potential and effectiveness of youth work as a key way to contribute to and collaborate with efforts to raise attainment. The report states: Some young people stay in education as a result of their participation in youth awards.

The Minister also noted the report’s statement that awards offered the chance for some of the most vulnerable young people to have their achievements recognised, including those in secure units, care homes and young offenders institutions.

Existing arrangements

TheSaltire Awards are a 2012 re-branding of the Millennium Volunteers award scheme (see the article on 'Youth Volunteering at National Level' for more background information). They are a national scheme, supported by the Scottish Government, to enable young volunteers in the 12-25 age group to record the skills, experience and learning gained through successful volunteering placements provided by local and national voluntary agencies.

The development areas/skills covered include: citizenship; personal commitment; community benefit; voluntary participation; inclusiveness; ownership by young people; employability skills.

The Saltire Awards are delivered in eachlocal authority area by the relevantThird Sector Interface (TSI) and supported at a national level by Voluntary Action Scotland. Achievement is recognised in the form of Saltire Award certificates and Young Scot reward points.

Participants record their achievements in a journal. They log their volunteering time, either manually in a spreadsheet or through an online account.

The Awards have four levels of progression:

  1. The Challenge – designed as an introduction to volunteering and undertaken as part of a team, with a certificate awarded on completion.
  2. The Approach – participants progress into an individual volunteering placement. They are supported to make a regular commitment to volunteering, with certificates being awarded at the completion of 10 and 25 hours of volunteering time.
  3. The Ascent – participants make a sustained commitment to volunteering with a local organisation, school, or project. Certificates are awarded on completion of 50, 100, 200 and 500 hours of volunteering.
  4. The Summit – the pinnacle of the Saltire Awards, which only achieved by those who have made an outstanding contribution to volunteering.

Dynamic Youth Awards

TheDynamic Youth Awards, offered by Youth Scotland, the network of youth clubs and groups, are peer-assessed awards recognising the contributions and achievements of young people in the 10+ age group.

The awards are designed to be easily incorporated into existing youth work and school programmes. Young people are encouraged to self-assess and then peer-assess each other's achievements, and can use the awards as an access route to the Youth Achievement Awards (see below).

Dynamic Youth Awards are now credit rated at Level 3 on theScottish Credit and Qualifications Framework by the Scottish Qualifications Authority.

Youth Achievement Awards

Youth Achievement Awards, also offered by Youth Scotland, offer significant opportunities for young people to develop the four ‘Curriculum for Excellence’ capacities: successful learners; confident individuals; effective contributors; responsible citizens. They recognise young people's contributions in a variety of settings including youth work, volunteering, active citizenship, and formal education.

Aimed at young people aged 14+, the Awards recognise four levels of responsibility taken by young people participating in activities that interest them. Bronze is about young people taking part;  the Silver level involves young people assisting or sharing responsibility with others; the Gold level involves them taking individual responsibility to organise; and the Platinum level sees them undertake training and lead.

The Award does not come with a programme; instead, the open framework allows learning providers to mould the Award around existing youth work and school programmes.

Award in Volunteering Skills

The Award in Volunteering Skills, accredited by the Scottish Qualifications Authority, at Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF) levels 3, 4 and 5 provides formal recognition of volunteering activity.

Through participation in volunteering activities, candidates can develop a range of skills and personal development experiences which will help to prepare them for responsibility, further education and employment.

The achievement of other awards such as the Saltire Awards or Youth Achievement Award  can contribute towards the Volunteering Skills Award. These other awards exist for people under the age of 25, although the Volunteering Skills Award is open to learners of any age.

Further information is available from theScottish Qualifications Authority.

The Awards Network, a forum of 21 providers of non-formal learning awards, maintains a searchable directory of the awards and qualifications available through non-formal learning.

Detailed information on awards is also available inAmazing Things: a Guide to the Youth Awards in Scotland (Awards Network, 2017) and Education Scotland’s 2015 publicationA Review of Youth Awards in Scotland:  Helping Young People to be Successful, Confident, Effective and Responsible Citizens.