Youth Scotland's Story

“At Youth Scotland we take CPD very seriously. In the 968 affiliated youth groups and clubs we support, which are located in settings ranging from small villages to large urban areas, there is a strong emphasis on volunteering as an entry route into employment.

We have traditionally provided a programme of one-off, issue-based training for existing youth workers and volunteers. However, having questioned a lot of volunteers (3,500 volunteers support our member groups across Scotland) we identified that there were young people wanting to progress in youth work, but within the organisation there was a CPD gap. Youth Scotland offered very little to get young people on to the first rung of training in youth work outside of academic study.

Usually young leaders identify themselves fairly quickly. Often they show an interest or an aptitude to adult leaders and put themselves forward to help. We wanted to make a clear progression route for them, and to provide opportunities for these young people to take on leadership roles in their groups and communities.

One of Youth Scotland’s flagship programmes is the Youth Achievement Awards, which are delivered at Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum level.

The Platinum Youth Achievement Award provides a structured framework for young people to develop as leaders. Young people undertaking the Award are required to create a portfolio of work and plan their own youth work programme. It is credit leveled on the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF) by the Scottish Qualification Authority (SQA) at Level 7, and is comparable to an Advanced Higher.

They are expected to lead activities, make presentations and train others, and crucially they are assessed by their peers. The Platinum Award can take a couple of years to complete so young people have to be very dedicated. A recent Platinum Youth Achievement Award recipient successfully applied for a new job, which she had to beat 300 other candidates to get. She believes the skills and confidence gained from her Youth Achievement Award experience helped her to do just that.

At Youth Scotland we also offer a series of internship and traineeship opportunities for those looking to further their experience in community-based youth work. We have run an internship with our ‘Girls on the Move’ project for the past two years. ‘Girls on the Move’ is a project designed to increase physical activity amongst girls and young women in Scotland. The ‘Girls on the Move’ internship was developed to give young women that have experience of leading physical, dance or sports activities with young people, an opportunity to further develop their skills.

The interns provide support to young people taking part in residential and non-residential leadership courses as well as receiving a range of training. The interns gain skills and understanding of working with young people, as well as practical hands on experience of delivering training and activities in a supportive setting.

Of the three interns we have supported this year, one is now completing the Sports Leaders UK Tutor Training in Dance Leadership, one is working for Active Schools and the other one is embarking on a community arts course.

Youth Scotland is also providing a Youth Active Traineeship, which is supported by the Rank Foundation and Robertson Trust in partnership with the YMCA George Williams College in London.

The traineeship is a paid position for three years. It provides work-based training for four days of the week and then one day of distance learning. Four times a year the trainee will be required to travel to London to attend college.

Our first trainee is just about to start. He has been involved with physical activity and youth work throughout his teenage years, taking advantage of the opportunities available at his youth club and going on to become a trainer through the TOP Sports programme, which encourages young people into sport. We are really looking forward to supporting him throughout this traineeship, where he will be involved in developing our programmes of physical activity for young people, delivering activities and undertaking the training we provide for youth workers in all aspects of youth work delivery, including policies, programmes and child protection.

Over the past year Youth Scotland has piloted the Professional Development Award in Youth Work. This is a very new SQA qualification aimed at youth work volunteers and sessional staff. We have gone through a rigorous process to ensure we have the right structures in place to deliver the course, including developing materials that are interactive and fit for purpose for our candidates.<

A major benefit of the PDA is that it is work-based. The candidates taking part in the PDA don’t have to go to college but can continue working or volunteering in their youth work settings whilst completing the course. We ran the first one last year in partnership with our local Association in the Lothians,(LAYC) and Jewel and Esk College. The course was in high demand - when we advertised the programme we had over 50 notes of interest and 20 people undertook the course. As they were all working in different groups they were able to reinforce their learning from their own experiences of youth work.

In May this year, 18 candidates successfully completed the course. They have continued on in their youth work roles, either in full-time employment, volunteering or sessional work or into education. Six workers are pursuing further HNC, CLD and Youth Work degree qualifications. We now have a vision to take the PDA forward, and next year we hope to offer the course in the Lothians and the Borders too.

It’s so important that new workers and volunteers, at whatever age, are provided with support from the outset. Research carried out a couple of years ago showed that if you get it right at the start, people are far more likely to stay in their roles.

We are in the process of developing a youth work volunteer induction pack and accompanying training course. Hosted on our Youth Work Essentials web portal, which provides core information for youth workers and volunteers, the Volunteer Induction pack will cover all the key topics that new volunteers needs to know about.

Mentoring is also crucial. Very often people come out of courses with lots of ideas. What happens next depends on how they are received back in their own youth groups, and the support that is offered to them. We are very keen on developing this, by encouraging staff to see how mentoring others is key to their own CPD.

If other organisations are hoping to develop similar kinds of CPD opportunities for workers and volunteers, then I think linking with others is the key. At Youth Scotland we link with a range of local and national organisations. As well as allowing us to see how other people do things, these partnerships allow us to get the right support and resources to make things happen.

Last modified: Sunday, 30 August 2015, 1:15 PM