Youth Work Research

Background of this project

These are both exciting and challenging times for youth work in Scotland. The recent publication of the National Youth Work Strategy sets out shared ambitions through to 2019.

In addition, recent research has highlighted the importance of youth work, both internationally and in Europe.

Nevertheless, this research has also revealed that organisations providing universal youth work often struggle to get funding and to be recognised as contributors to positive outcomes for young people. This is due, in part, to the economic crisis but it is compounded by the lack of conceptual clarity around youth work practice and a lack of robust outcome measures that can be used to demonstrate the impact of our work.

The past decade has been a challenging time for youth work in Scotland. Nevertheless, youth work has continued to thrive and make a difference in local communities. In this current climate, it has never been more important to be able to share and demonstrate the positive impacts that youth work has on the lives and lifestyles of young people.

What we are trying to do

There is an opportunity for youth work practitioners and policy makers to reassert the role, importance and purpose of their work.

For all of these reasons the research being undertaken aims to:
• illuminate the distinct purpose of universal youth work
• demonstrate the rich array of methods and approaches to youth work and its evaluation
• reveal the diverse outcomes of youth work practice

What has been produced

A report combining academic literature with practice from the field. The report  explores the theories and concepts driving youth work practice over the last decade, both in Scotland and beyond. It also discusses the outcomes and impacts of universal youth work and is a valuable resource for youth workers to make the case for their work.

Update on Youth Work Research

Following a successful launch seminar of the recent research report ‘Universal Youth Work – a critical review of the literature’, further work is being done to explore the research gaps that it has thrown up and begin to prioritise what youth work focus research would be of benefit to the sector particularly given the current funding climate.

A follow up workshop lead by the Scottish Collaboration for Public Health Research and Policy (SCPHRP) and involving practitioners, managers and academics it began to explore and prioritise what focussed research would be of most benefit to youth work in Scotland over the next few years. The insights and priorities identified will now be taken forward by the youth work research group under the chair of Dona Milne which is a sub group of Youthlink Scotland’s implementation group for the National Youth Work Strategy.

To view or download the summary report or full report please click on the embedded links.