Opinion Former Article

Skills for Justice: Providing the skills to tackle youth crime

People working in Youth Justice have a tough job - they help to prevent crime, create a safer society for us all and aim to steer young people away from the criminal justice system. In order to help them achieve this, we are delighted to announce the approval of a new set of National Occupational Standards, which we have developed over the past 18 months by working with youth justice agencies across the UK.

Each year around 100,000 young people aged 10-17 enter the criminal justice system for the first time, and the Government is working to reduce that number by a fifth by 2020, as part of the recently developed Youth Crime Action Plan, which sees the development of a skilled workforce as vital to achieving this. The new standards are available now and will help people working in Youth Justice to develop their skills and help the Government meet this objective.

Since the former suite of standards were developed in 2002, there has been an increased political focus on the issue of young people involved in crime and the implementation of policy such as Every Child Matters, the Children Act 2004 and recommendations from the Bichard Inquiry.

Alan Woods OBE, CEO of Skills for Justice said, "We are very pleased to announce an updated suite of standards for people working in Youth Justice. With some 200,000 young people going through the youth justice system every year, these new standards reflect the knowledge and skills needed for working with children and young people, and will help these workers to offer the support and development needed to provide an effective service to young people."

National Occupational Standards can be used to develop job descriptions and person specifications, to recruit and induct staff, to design and deliver and evaluate learning and development. They also have a role in managing individual and team performance, can facilitate partnership working, and be used as a tool for benchmarking good practices.

Employees can use Standards to identify potential career opportunities, complete nationally recognised qualifications and help them transfer competence to other work contexts. Standards provide managers with a ready made management and appraisal framework as well as way of providing specific feedback aimed at improving performance.

Managers using them can be confident that their staff comply with their legal and organisational requirements. Standards help in the development and retention of a highly skilled, motivated and flexible workforce. They can align individual effort with organisational goals and targets.

The current youth justice NVQ and SVQ and other award structures have also been reviewed. The proposed qualification structures are designed to allow flexibility, recognising the variations in roles and their associated responsibilities across youth justice at the different levels. The NVQ and SVQ will be available later in the year.

Ends

Notes to editors

1) Establishment of 'Every Child Matters'. In 2003 the Government green paper 'Every Child Matters' was published, alongside the formal response to the report into the death of Victoria Climbié, together with a companion paper to 'Every Child Matters', entitled 'Youth Justice - The Next Steps' which set out reforms for the youth justice system. This led to a new approach to managing the well-being of children and young people, with initiatives and guidelines such as:

- 'Championing Children', a shared set of skills, knowledge and behaviours for managers of integrated children's services. This tool is intended to help individuals and organisations to plan their leadership and management training

- the publication of a common core of skills and knowledge for the children's workforce

- 'Children's Workforce Strategy', towards reforming qualifications to support improved career pathways and opportunities within the children's workforce

- proposals for 'Safeguarding' and 'Lead Professional' roles amongst practitioners working with young people, including the skills and knowledge required for success in these roles

2) Passing of the Children Act 2004, which provides the legislation for developing more effective and accessible services focused around the needs of children and young people in England

3) Establishing of a new, high-level national group in Scotland, the Youth Justice Improvement Group, to continue the enhancement of youth justice in Scotland, building upon the youth justice agenda set by Scottish Ministers in 2002. This Group's membership includes key stakeholders from across Scotland

4) Publication by the Youth Justice Agency within N Ireland of its Corporate Plan for 2006-2009 which sets out its future priorities

5) Relevant outcomes from additional developments such as those arising from

· the Bichard Inquiry, launched in December 2003 following the murders of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman

· changes in relevant practices, such as those in intensive fostering

· the expansion of youth justice, for example, within restorative practice and intensive supervision and surveillance

Skills for Justice is employer-led and works in partnership to ensure that the Justice sector has the necessary skills and staffing to be productive, efficient and effective. It will provide additional benefits and value to the justice sector through a coordinated approach to skills issues, better use of resources, increased ability to attract development funding into the justice sector and increased ability to meet the needs of the individual countries in the UK.

Skills for Business is an employer-led network consisting of 25 Sector Skills Councils. Through its unrivalled labour market intelligence and insights from the employers in all sectors of the UK economy, the network identifies change needed in policy and practice relating to education and skills development. With the influence granted by licenses from the governments of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and with private and public funding, this independent network engages with the education and training supply-side, such as universities, colleges, funders and qualifications bodies, to increase productivity at all levels in the workforce.

For more information contact:

Ally Mogg
Marketing & PR Officer
Skills for Justice | Centre Court | Atlas Way | Sheffield | S4 7QQ
T: 0114 231 7387 | M: 07795 960707

www.skillsforjustice.com

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