New National Youth Work Strategy – The Journey Continues

An update on the work so far from Kevin Kane, YouthLink Scotland’s Policy and Research Manager.

Group of young people standing in an office.

YouthLink Scotland desires a country where the rights of children and young people are recognised and rooted deep in society and core to the work of our public and voluntary services. We want a nation that treasures the wellbeing of children and young people and views youth work as an integral part of that vision.

We know youth work plays a significant role on improving the life chances of Scotland’s young people. The National Youth Work Strategy (NYWS) (2014-19), developed jointly by YouthLink Scotland, Scottish Government and Education Scotland, set out our ambitions for improving outcomes for young people through youth work.

At the annual National Youth Work Awards in Glasgow in 2019, The Minister for Further Education, Higher Education and Science, Richard Lochhead MSP delighted the youth work sector with the news that the Scottish Government was committed to a new National Youth Work Strategy (2020-25), co-designed by the youth work sector and for the youth work sector.

The same year, YouthLink Scotland set about engaging thousands of young people, youth workers and stakeholders on the co-production of the renewed strategy.

We convened The National Young People’s Group, alongside Young Scot and Scottish Youth Parliament. The team co-designed a survey to seek the views of young people all over the Scotland. Then in January 2020, hundreds of delegates attended a NYWS event in Glasgow, co-designed by the group, who shared the key themes emerging from their survey and an extensive range of engagement events from all over Scotland. Find out more here.

Some of the most prominent themes included the need for significant investment in the youth work sector, a focus on mental health and wellbeing and a commitment to workforce development. The young people sought assurances from attendees that youth work will be a practice, which is accessible to all young people.

A more detailed report of engagement and themes emerging can be found here.

With the development of the new NYWS for Scotland’s youth work sector well underway, we were delighted to look back at the achievements of the 2014-19 NYWS through the publication of our progress report, released in June 2020.

In March 2020, due to the spread of Covid-19, the nation went into lockdown. The youth work offer adapted quickly. It was encouraging to see such a collaborative and positive response from across the sector with many services able to move to digital platforms to ensure young people continued to receive vital support.

This paused the writing and public consultation of the strategy, which had been due to take place in the summer of 2020. However, work on the strategy did not end there, as policy and influencing work continued through a period of secondary partnership engagement. Further, we have been able to highlight numerous examples of the versatility and connectedness brought about for young people by the youth work sector during Covid-19 across a range of policy areas.

We are expecting an update from Scottish Government on the renewed timeline for the National Youth Work Strategy soon.

If you would like to know more about this piece of work, please contact YouthLink Scotland’s Policy and Research Manager, Kevin Kane,