EDUCATION Minister Jane Davidson last night launched a new youth work document compiled by the Duke of Edinburgh's Award, which promises to help youth workers provide the key skills that are being promoted as part of the National Assembly's concept of extending entitlement.
The new document, The Award and Youth Work, is a guide for youth workers and teachers which aims to provide the tools to not only meet many of the Government's targets as set out under the extending entitlement philosophy, but also to ensure it is accredited.
"I value and appreciate the skills of all those who work with children and young people," said the Minister, Jane Davidson.
By producing this booklet the Duke of Edinburgh's Award are recognising the valuable contribution that youth workers make to the ongoing development of our young people."
As well as laying out the principles and benefits of the award in both English and Welsh, the document is also a detailed manual for setting up and running an award scheme with ideas for activities, targets, timescales and more.
The Duke of Edinburgh's Award has been working with young people since 1956 when it was set up to encourage schoolboys to get involved with learning outside academic education. Today this programme of personal development is open to all youngsters aged 14 to 25 and each year there are more than 200,000 participants in the UK alone.
The award's value is widely recognised and Trevor S Pears, trustee of the Pears Family Charitable Foundation, said, "We hope that this pack assists in developing new partnerships with youth clubs and voluntary organisations across the country.
"We believe that the Duke of Edinburgh's Award can and should be available to every young person in Great Britain. It is an inspiring way to break down barriers and give young people the opportunity to build their talents and be rewarded for their dedication."
Award participants complete sectional certificates in physical recreation, expedition, skills and service and in doing so are provided with the opportunity to learn key skills such as teamwork and communication. These life lessons are essential in order to promote social inclusion and allow youngsters to grow into well-rounded adults.
A further benefit of the award is the certification of learning which may not otherwise be acknowledged officially. Dr Howard Williamson, vice-chair of the Wales Youth Agency and award trustee, said, "The award is a flexible tool that builds on the interests and commitment of young people and, in time, provides them with a form of recognition that has meaning and relevance within their future destinations - in both the labour market and civil society."
Although youth work comes in many guises from school to extra curricular clubs to Sunday school classes, it is all built on a common platform. "It is, simultaneously, about promoting learning, fostering inclusion, building citizenship and engendering a sense of personal and community security and safety," says Dr Williamson, who is himself a youth worker.
At a time when university degrees are becoming all too common and employers are asking for a wider range of life skills and experience outside the classroom, youth workers are under great pressure to ensure those in their charge have a fair chance to succeed.
"Youth work is about enabling and creating environments in which young people can learn," says Dr Williamson.
"The Duke of Edinburgh's Award is about ensuring that such learning is both noticed and acknowledged."
The award is:
Non-competitive: a personal challenge, not a competition
Open to all: anyone can do it
Voluntary: it's up to the young person what they do
Flexible: the young people design their own programme
Balanced: it will stretch participants in all directions
Progressive: young people improve at their own pace
Achievement-focused: nobody can fail
Marathon, not a sprint: it requires sustained effort
Personal development: it's the taking part that matters
Enjoyable: it's about getting out there and having fun