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The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

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Five-year youth strategy launched

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​Government and charities join together in praise of youth workers as national strategy is launched.

The importance of youth work has been highlighted in a new national strategy.

Our ambitions for improving the life chances of young people in Scotland praises the value of the 73,000 strong army of existing volunteers and workers in the youth sector and promises to put young people at the heart of national policy.

Developed jointly by the Scottish Government, YouthLink Scotland and Education Scotland the strategy sets out the key goals for youth work over the next five years.

This strategy marks a new chapter in the relationship of Scottish society with its young people and those who deliver youth work activities - Jim Sweeney

Launched by minister for children and young people Aileen Campbell, an emphasis has been placed on the ability youth work has to transform the lives of young people.

“More than half a million young Scots participate in youth work on a regular basis, giving them the chance to develop skills, self-confidence and a sense of connection with others,” Campbell said.

“It widens their horizons and helps them make positive choices in their lives as they move into adulthood.”

As well as aiming to increase the current number of youth workers and volunteers is a promise to make Scotland the best place to grow up in for young people by getting them more involved in government policy.

Jim Sweeney, YouthLink Scotland chief executive, said it was important the impact of youth work on a range of national outcomes is acknowledged.

The emphasis on the importance of youth work follows on from a 2012 national survey which claimed for every £1 invested in youth work there is a potential saving of up to £13 in addressing issues later in life, depending on the activity.

“This strategy marks a new chapter in the relationship of Scottish society with its young people and those who deliver youth work activities,” Sweeney said.

“It also values the key roles that youth work can play in delivering real and meaningful learning through challenging and exciting programmes.”

With 92% of young people involved with youth work organisations under the age of 17 the strategy aims to safeguard organisations such as the Boys Brigade, LGBT Youth Scotland and the vast range of youth projects, organisations and local authorities which offer everything from outdoor learning to increasing employability skills.

Alan Armstrong, strategic director at Education Scotland, said: “This strategy places young people at the centre and commits to listening to them so we can develop the high quality services and opportunities that reflect their needs.

“It’s so important we get this right as the development, learning and experiences that young people gain in youth work situations can have a positive impact on the rest of a person’s life and work.”