The launch of a report analysing youth work across 35 countries has been described as “a seminal moment in the Commonwealth’s youth work history”.
The comments were made following the launch of the Secretariat’s study, ‘Youth Work in the Commonwealth: A Growth Profession’
The publication, which was co-authored by Dr Brian Belton, a senior lecturer at YMCA George Williams College, was presented as part of Youth Work Week 2017.
Dr Belton said, “We looked at youth work across the Commonwealth to achieve an international picture. What the report found was that a lot of steps had been taken, principally through the work of the Commonwealth, that enhanced the status and the profile of youth work.
“Part of what this baseline report has done is made us aware of the amount of good work and good practice that’s going on in the Commonwealth. Particularly in areas of the Commonwealth like Asia, the Caribbean and Africa.
“Our findings also pointed towards a great deal that needed to be done, both with professional associations and with higher education institutions. In particular, it demonstrated that we need to think about a bottom-up strategy, including investment in the base. It will make our work with young people more sustainable, effective and cost-efficient.”
The baseline report breaks the youth work sector down into eight key areas of focus to assess progress across the 35 Commonwealth countries. These include the existence of policy and legislative commitments for youth work as a profession, the existence of qualification pathways for youth work education and training, and the establishment of youth work associations and professional bodies that support the sector.
This research enables the Commonwealth, member countries and other stakeholders to identify areas for strategic investment in youth work that will, among other benefits, enhance young people’s leadership, employability, and entrepreneurial skills.
Head of Social Policy Development at the Commonwealth Secretariat, Layne Robinson said, “The launch of the baseline study is a seminal moment in the Commonwealth’s youth work history. This is the first time we have done a comprehensive survey of the status of the youth work profession in our member countries. We have covered 35 countries across all five regions of the Commonwealth.
“The report highlights the main issues and challenges that the youth work profession is faced with in our countries, and gives us a snapshot of what we need to do as a Secretariat to support youth work practitioners, volunteers and stakeholders to grow the profession over the medium to long-term.”
Mr Robinson added, “The significance of this moment shouldn’t be lost in that, even though the Commonwealth has worked in youth work education and training for more than 40 years, this baseline study tells us where the profession is today. It also gives us the evidence we need to focus on key areas in youth development that will add value to our member countries commitments to their young people.”
Youth Work Week is an annual initiative by the Commonwealth Secretariat that highlights the contribution and achievements of youth work, youth workers, and youth organisations throughout the 52 Commonwealth member countries.
It was first established by the UK's National Youth Agency two decades ago, and since 2012 the Commonwealth has worked to expand its reach and scope across its 52 member countries.