Is Youth Work an Endangered Profession in England?
What’s gone wrong? Almost twenty years later few Youth Services survive. Youth work’s potential role in contributing to the prevention of violent extremism and countering sexual exploitation (among other things) has not been developed fully. Graduates from Youth and Community Work professional courses achieve jobs: their skills render them highly employable but they seldom gain posts entitled ‘Youth Worker’. Their knowledge is relevant but often they have to compromise their core values particularly concerning young people’s voluntary involvement.
Late modernity has not been superseded but the Youth Service has vanished from many local authorities. Youth centres are being closed as government austerity cuts disproportionately affect young people. There is an ideological impasse between the Conservative government’s antipathy towards parts of the public sector and youth workers’ desire to ‘make a difference’ which translates into ‘naïve radicalism’ as France and Wiles phrased it.
My paper will focus on the current fragmented picture through revisiting France and Wiles’s article and will consider possible futures for the profession in England.
France, A. and Wiles, P. (1997) ‘Dangerous Futures: Social Exclusion and Youth Work in Late Modernity. Social Policy and Administration. Vol. 31, No. 5.